Should I Buy A T-Jet Direct To Garment Printr

A quick note from T-Jet developer, Scott Fresener.

Since the end of 2004, we have sold over 2,200 T-Jet printers. It has changed how we decorate garments and the T-Jet is the clear market favorite. We were the first to introduce pigment based screen print quality white ink in September of 2005. What seemed like an impossibility became a reality and it got everyone to take notice that direct-printing on garments was here.

But, we also found that we had a new type of customer. Since 1979 we have been teaching people how to screen print shirts. The screen printing process requires a steep learning curve, the use of chemicals, mechanical ability, a wide variety of equipment and a commitment to learn the process. Our T-Jet customer comes in different varieties.

The customers that tend to need the least amount of support are screen printers. They love the machine because they understand the business and realize there is never perfect artwork. They are not afraid to do maintenance on a machine because they do it now on their screen printing equipment. They realize that you will ruin a few shirts to get the print right. They understand having to learn new techniques and to take ownership of their purchase.

The customer that tends to need a lot of hand holding and support is someone who may be brand new to the textile decorating industry. The thought of ruining even a single shirt is hard to swallow. They think it is easy and do not want to take ownership of a piece of equipment that will require TLC to keep it running smoothly. They think customers have perfect artwork and they don’t think they need any art skills. It is plug and play – instant money.

Our middle customer is an embroider (some support). Embroiders love this machine. Many of them have gone into, or have looked at going into screen printing. The mess scares them or turns them off. This machine is perfect for them. They already have to do maintenance and cleaning of their embroidery machine so they understand that. They have little art skills and need some hand holding when working with bad artwork.

Where do you fit in? The T-Jet is a gold mine. We have customers doing 300, 500 and 1,000 piece runs. We have customers who print one shirt at a time (over and over and over all day long) for internet orders. We have some customers who only print a few shirts a day. Others print two shifts non-stop. What type of customer will you be for us?

Yes, the T-Jet is a gold mine, but it is also a piece of machinery working hard to do good quality prints in an industry that generates a LOT of lint. Lint can get on the bottom of the print head. It can get on key machine parts. And, we inkjet A LOT more ink than a normal printer. In order to get good penetration and bright prints we have to “open the flood gates” of the printing head. This can cause a little overspray to get on key components. No, your printer will not be dripping of ink.

This means you will need to do a little daily maintenance. If you print a few shirts a day, then no big deal. You might have to remove the printing ink cartridges and replace them with cleaning fluid cartridges if you plan to leave the unit set a few days without use. Yes, you can have minor head clogs if you don’t use it too often.

If you print night and day, you will have to occasionally stop and clean a few key parts. Simple. Easy. No big deal. But it needs to be done to keep the printer happy.

You WILL get low quality artwork. There is no magic when the customer wants his web graphic that is 72dpi and 3” big to print 13” on a shirt. You will need to spend a little time “tweaking” it. Yes, you will need to learn about computer graphics. No, you won’t need to become an expert.

I am writing this note because I think at times we and our dealer network has sold T-Jets as being “plug and play” and we have not emphasized the small maintenance that is needed to keep the machine happy. And, we have been guilty of not telling newcomers that there will be bad art to deal with.

OK, for the good news…… if you buy a T-Jet and understand it will need some TLC and that you might have to spend some time fixing customers bad artwork and if you realize you WILL ruin some shirts (it is ONLY a shirt….), you will make a LOT of money with your T-Jet and you will be very glad you made the purchase!

Best Regards,
Scott Fresener, T-Jet developer

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