Guidelines on how to organize a working space for the optimal DTG printing workflow.
It is really critical for the business itself and the people involved to operate in the perfect working conditions. What does that mean for a DTG printer? Safety, convenience, temperature & humidity are the basic factors that determine the proper functionality of the machinery along with the smooth business operation.
Firstly, it is important that tight and cramped working environments are avoided; such workstations more than often lead to mistakes and confusion. Ensuring a comfortable and convenient workstation will help operators move around with ease and overall, help optimize their workflow.
Note: Most DTG printing stations start from 20m2 and go up to to 70m2 according to machinery used.
As for humidity & temperature conditions, the proper measurements have to be secured so that the DTG printer performs at its best. Meaning that a DTG machine requires a room temperature area with humidity levels of around 45 - 60%. If need be, the use of humidifiers are suggested in order to increase humidity; a dry room can increase chances of a clogged print head and may lead to excessive (automatic) head cleanings.
Tip: A room with windows not only will provide fresh air and natural light but will also work as a natural humidifier!
Main elements & machinery that constitute a DTG printing workstation
- The DTG printer(s). Most of the commercial printers in the DTG industry have a size of around 125 x 90 x 50 cm and require a relative stand/table as a base to place upon.
- The PC/Laptop + the Rip software. A software program is essential for the printer to deliver the proper quality on the prints, thus, there has to be room for a PC placement. However, most of the businesses in the field use a robust laptop that often place upon the printer.
- The Heat Press. Crucial at every printing stage, a press comes in logical dimensions but also requires a table as an underbase.
Tip: Secure the printer from the heat that the press or the dryers release to the atmosphere. Ideally, place the printer opposite the Heat Press or at least at a safe distance away from any curing solution used.
- The Pretreatment Spray Gun. Like most regular sprayers, the size of it is minor compared to other DTG related machinery and is used with small production volumes. Nevertheless, using a spray gun to pretreat garments will release chemicals into the working space, so make sure the area is often aired properly.
How to apply pretreatment manually
- The Pretreatment Machine. Usually bulk kind of machinery and not unreasonably, since pretreatment liquids “stay” within the machine providing an eco-friendly pre-treating solution. Meaning that such machines are usually larger than commercial printers and require a larger desk to place upon.
Tip: Take advantage of the tables & stands that are used to place machinery upon. Use them as storage room for garment and any other accessories needed. If not enough, separate storage furniture as well as a display panels are recommended.
- The Drying Cabinet. An electrical machine used for fixation and curing garments when a Heat Press is not enough. Such dryer is customizable meaning that it comes with as many drawers as needed and is mostly required when printers are 2 or more.
- The Conveyor Dryer. In a state of high production volumes where 4 or more printers operate simultaneously, a tunnel dryer is suggested for fixation. In that way, the curing process will be enhanced in times and costs, however, a large space is required to install such a dryer in any working space.
- Both types of dryer more support rather than replace the use of a heat press. When production volume is high, a press may not be used for fixation but will surely be used in-between pre-treating and printing stages.
Curing Equipment in DTG: Heat Press vs Oven Dryer
- Make sure dryers are well-insulated so as not to heat the workstation any more than they do.
Most common cases and proper combinations of DTG Machinery
Single Printer ModelOne (1) printer is used according to the below combinations. A heat press is always important while the pre-treatment solution mostly depends on production volume.
- Heat Press - Spray Gun - Printer - PC
- Heat Press - Pre-Treatment Machine - Printer - PC
Note: When the printer is really fast & production volume is high, a Drying Cabinet is suggested.
2 (up to 4) Printers Model
As business scales up, so does machinery. In this scenario, a Pre-Treatment machine is a must, while you can switch between multiple heat presses and a dryer.
- 2 - 3 Heat Presses (or dual platen Heat Press) - Pre-Treatment Machine - Printers - PC (gradually scale up scenario)
- Heat Press - Pre-Treatment Machine - Printers - PC - Drying Cabinet
Multi Printer Model
Business towards corporate state. High volume of production brings quantity in machinery placed on a larger space. Either the business has scaled up or the investment is from scratch, multiple machines are needed. Also, more than one PC are needed to run Rip software and support more than 4 printers.
- Heat Press (or more than 1) - Pre-Treatment Machine - 5 to 8 Printers - 2 PCs - Conveyor (Tunnel) Dryer
Taking the above into consideration, operating in the perfect conditions is of great significance both for the people and for the involved machinery. Secure the workstation with safety and the right environmental conditions and this will provide a smooth workflow. Last but not least and moving some steps back in the decision making stage, it is really important you select a working space with a large area having scaling up business-wise in mind.