The story so far…
The concept of direct to garment printing using an inkjet printer has been around since the mid-1990’s. It wasn’t until U.S. Screen introduced the Fast T-Jet at the SGIA show in October 2004 that the product became commercially viable. Within a year, Impression Technologie’s DTG Kiosk had entered the marketplace. Based on a small flatbed printer modified to handle a shirt board system – DTG Digital was born.
Less than a year later U.S. Screen exclusive with the most viable manufacture of white ink expired allowing the direct to garment field to open new doors. October of 2006 saw the introduction of white ink on the Kiosk – which led to the development of the first WIMS system being implemented on the Kiosk II in 2007. By the end of 2007 the HM1 was released – signaling the first purpose built direct to garment printer for the DTG group. The HM1 utilized head moving technology giving faster print speeds and a smaller footprint. The HM1 was the first direct to garment printer to address the issue of white ink settling by means other than just doing scheduled head cleanings – through the implementation of a specially developed white ink stirring system the white ink pigments, binders and carriers were kept in suspension. It was from this stirring system that the WIMS circulation system evolved and was implemented in the successor to the HM1 – the HM1-C.
Late 2008 also saw the introduction of the game changing DTG Viper with the first units shipping to customers in early 2009. The Viper was the industry’s first production direct to garment printer to implement a belt system to allow for “printing through the printer” – making it easy to run multiple machines in a production configuration. A number of screen printers (like Mind’s Eye Graphics) and short run fulfillment printers implemented Vipers in pairs to take advantage of this unique benefit. The DTG exclusive 4-2-1 platen system allowed users to take advantage of the oversized print area of the Viper (16.5” x 29”) to print 4 smaller, two standard or one super-sized image at a time. The WIMS system continued to evolve on the Viper with the addition of a paddle in the white ink reservoir to stir the white ink in conjunction with the circulation system.
2011 saw a move towards more robust direct to garment printers and a move away from converted page printers. The DTG M-Series was previewed internationally at FESPA in Hamburg in the spring and introduced in the US at the ISS show in Fort Worth, Texas in the fall. The DTG M2 changed the industry’s expectations for price versus performance. With performance speeds equal to and often greater than machines two, three even four times its cost – the DTG M2 began turning heads from its debut. With a versatile platen system that honors the innovation of the Viper 4-2-1 system – the M2 quickly print 4 smaller images, two standard or one oversized image. Once again – the gap between DTG and the rest of the pack widens.
DTG is not just about hardware innovations, however. Throughout our rise to the top of the direct to garment industry we have also experienced some exciting firsts in regards to software developments as well. Development of One pass printing, ink cost calculation, automatic white base generation with choke features all contributed to a more user friendly and intuitive print system.
What good is all of the innovation if you can’t get you business off the ground? Effective in 2012, the industry’s most recognized online designer and web store provider – DecoNetwork – introduced an exclusive relationship with DTG. Now selling online is as easy as 1-2-3 – with special discounts for purchasers of new DTG printers.