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Episode 151 – What’s The Best T-Shirt Printer?

May 28, 2021

This Episode

Mark Stephenson & Marc Vila

You Will Learn

  • What is the best t-shirt printer
  • How to choose the right printer

Resources & Links

Episode 151 – What’s The Best T-Shirt Printer?

Show Notes

Easy! There is not “best”. There’s only best for you.

  1. Best for your plan
  2. Best for your products
  3. Best for your budget

Lets break this down by first determining:

  1. What do you want to sell?
  2. Who do you want to sell to?
  3. Where do you plan to fulfill orders?

Things we aren’t asking yet:

  1. What is your budget?
  2. Which technology have you ‘heard’ is best? what are others doing?
  3. What do i need to invest in besides a printer? e.g. heat press, etc

Now based on the above here are the facts on printing technology

DTG (like the G4 and Epson F2100)

  1. Quality of print 10/10 – colors, feel, wash, etc
  2. Works on Light and Dark garments
  3. Dark shirts – cotton only, Light shirts -cotton & poly (ish)
  4. Full color digital prints (tons of colors)
  5. Essentially Fade to nothing gradients
  6. Prints WHITE
  7. Space Requirements – Printer, heat press, table and pretreat
  8. Production Cost – very low

White Toner Transfers

  1. Quality of print 8/10 – colors, feel, wash, etc
  2. Works on Light and Dark Garments
  3. Works on cotton, poly & blends (almost all)
  4. Full Color Digital Prints (tons of colors)
  5. Does not fade to nothing (hard stops)
  6. Prints White
  7. Prints on tons of hard goods
  8. Space Requirements – Printer, heat press, table
  9. Production cost – moderate

Sublimation

  1. Quality of Print – 9/10 – Colors, feel, Wash
  2. Works on light colors only
  3. Works on poly only
  4. Full Color Digital Prints (tons of colors)
  5. Fade to nothing gradients
  6. Does not print white
  7. Print on tons of hard goods
  8. Space Requirement – Printer, Heat press, Table
  9. Production cost – moderate / low

Print & Cut System – Roland VersaStudio BN20

  1. Quality of Print – 7/10 – Colors, feel, Wash
  2. Works on dark and light colors
  3. Works on cotton, poly and blends (almost all)
  4. Full Color Digital Prints (tons of colors)
  5. No Fade to nothing and generally requires a border / bleed
  6. Vinyl is white, so doesnt print white, but is vinyl
  7. Creates stickers which can be used on hard goods
  8. Great sign production
  9. Space Requirement – Printer, Heat press, Table
  10. Production cost – moderate

Cutters

  1. Quality of Print – 7/10 – Colors, feel, Wash
  2. Works on dark and light garments
  3. Works on cotton, poly & blends (almost all)
  4. Single colors / pallets
  5. Must layer to achieve multi-colors
  6. No fade outs, all hard stops
  7. Vinyl had white, but a limited # of colors (100s?)
  8. Can print solid color or multi-color stickers
  9. Glitter!
  10. Space Requirement – Printer, Heat press, Table
  11. Production cost – low to moderate

So at this point in time lets chat examples

Now bringing up budget:

Since you know your plan and what technology you want, the budget can come into play.

  1. If you have a solid business plan and reasonable credit… they are all affordable.
  2. If you are looking to pay cash, then budget comes more into play.
  3. Is there one tech you prefer you cannot afford?
  4. Can your business plan use one technology to build to another?

Now that you have an education, you should learn more. Go to ColDesi.com

The other options is to call a ColDesi pro and get some recommendations. When in doubt consult the experts.

This podcast is inspired by a recent article post on ColDesi.com called 5 Ways to Make Custom T-shirts at Home | ColDesi.

Related Podcasts:

Episode 149 – Back to Business: Your 2021 Success Plan – Custom Apparel Startups

Episode 101 – Marketing Plan: Picking Your Niche – Custom Apparel Startups

Episode 136 – Building a Winning Ad Strategy For Your Business – Custom Apparel Startups

Products Mentioned:

G4 DTG Printer

Epson F2100 DTG Printer

Sawgrass Sublimation Printers

DigitalHeat FX White Toner Printers

Roland VersaStudio BN-20

Graphtec Vinyl Cutter Bundles

Transcript

Mark Stephenson:

Hey everyone, welcome to Episode 151 of the Custom Apparel Startups Podcast. Take two, you don’t need to know that, but you kind of do. Because Marc Vila and I are expert podcasters. But we still make mistakes all the time. So you’re going to hear a slightly rehashed version of what you just said. What we just said that you couldn’t hear anyway.

Marc Vila:

So redo of about three minutes worth of the podcast, maybe more. I love it. So Episode 151 – What’s The Best T-shirt Printer?

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I mean, definitively, that’s the question, is what is the best t-shirt printer? Marc, you have three seconds, go.

Marc Vila:

I ran out of time already. All right. So here, this is what we are going to do though, is we’re going to help you answer that question, because it’s a question that I get asked all the time, “What’s the best printer that you guys sell?” And I usually answer that with a question. Or if people ask me, what’s my favorite printer you use, and that changes. So really, the purpose of this podcast is to get you started on the right foot, know what questions you actually should be asking. Because the question is not, “What’s the best t-shirt printer?” There’s other questions, right?

Mark Stephenson:

It really is, and I like what you have. And there’s no best t-shirt printer, because everybody’s business is different. Or it’s going to be different. Everybody’s goals are different. Everybody’s budget is different. I mean, choosing the best printer could be down to the way you like to do things, the way you like to work. I mean, I’m just going to be honest, one of the things that we’re not going to talk too much about today is screen printing. But if you love making things with your hands, and you are a get down and dirty, and like to figure stuff out in kind of a commercial industrial environment, then maybe you want to be a screen printer, because it fits the way you work and what you want to do.

Mark Stephenson:

But what most people are going to base it on is, “What do you want to make?” Isn’t that right? Isn’t the kind of shirt that you want to print, the determining factor, Marc?

Marc Vila:

Yeah, well, I would say, that’s definitely a huge portion of it, what you want to create. Because if you want to create shirts that is for sports apparel, and you want to do game day jerseys and sportswear stuff that’s rough and tough solid colors, you’re probably going to want to choose a different technology than if you are wanting to do say fishing gear, moisture wicking sports apparel, really lightweight prints. So those are two very different things that you I would choose two different technologies for and we’re going to help you walk through to that.

Marc Vila:

I was thinking, when we first started talking about this actually, the first time we went through, I didn’t say this, but now that we’ve gone back in time, somebody might say… I’ve said this before, if you’re a podcast listener, but, what’s the best vehicle to buy? I want to buy a new vehicle, what’s the best one? All right? So vehicles go from the range of… I mean, I don’t know, I guess the real range might be like a tricycle or a scooter. All the way up to like a jumbo jet, space rocket. But most people are probably talking about cars and trucks. And then immediately I said cars and trucks, so what’s better? A Ford or pickup truck, or a compact electric car, or sports car? What do you want to do with it?

Marc Vila:

I wouldn’t recommend a Lamborghini if you own a roofing company and you probably are trucking around roofing supplies. Probably not the best option. That’d be interesting, it’d be cool. I wouldn’t want to give you money for a roof, but-

Mark Stephenson:

I want to see the rack that you have to put on top of the Lamborghini.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And on the flip side, if you are maybe an Uber driver, or a DoorDash driver on a giant dually four-door diesel truck, probably it’s not the best option for that. That gets about five miles to the gallon or something like that.

Mark Stephenson:

But you’re right, they’re all good vehicles.

Marc Vila:

They’re all great, yeah.

Mark Stephenson:

And they’re all like perfect for the purpose that you buy them for.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And some of them in completely different classes might cost the same amount. A four-door pickup truck that can haul a giant boat is could be the same amount of money as a Tesla or same amount of money as a really nice Mustang, or same mount same amount of money as the highest end, a Toyota Camry. So the point is, is that there is no right answer to that, leading into there’s not a right answer to what’s the best printer, it’s the right question to ask.

Mark Stephenson:

I like that.

Marc Vila:

So what I had thought here was there was a lot of different questions. And in the beginning, you had mentioned, budget being important, and how you like to work being important. And those are important, but I think it really the first thing you need to ask are three questions, which is, what do you want to sell? These are simultaneous questions, not in order, because they change depending. What do you want to sell? Who do you want to sell it to? And then, where do you plan on doing this? How do you plan on doing it? Where do you plan on doing it?

Marc Vila:

Can you can do it by yourself in your garage? Or you can do in half of a spare bedroom? Do you have a shop that already exists? Do you have a crew? And before we ask what do you want to sell? And who do you want to sell it to? Fishing gear to fishing persons?

Mark Stephenson:

And we’ve got a bunch of episodes just on kind of picking a niche market. Because Marc is right, if you are going to sell concert tees, or band shirts or something like that, it makes a difference because those are pretty much all black cotton tees. If you want to sell fishing shirts, if you want to sell girls decorated dresses, cheer stuff-

Marc Vila:

[crosstalk 00:06:29] you’re wearing versus the shirt I’m wearing.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I mean, there’s a huge variety of things you can sell. And it’s down to, who do you want to sell it to. So what you want to sell is the kind of items, who you want to sell it to is what your niche market is.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and that’s great. And I also think, as we’re answering these questions, I’ll say, one answer that is going to be wrong always is, what do you want to sell everything? Who do you want to sell to everyone?

Mark Stephenson:

Oh, yeah. I got one of those.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you’re not Walmart. And even Walmart doesn’t do all that. Even Walmart doesn’t sell everything to everyone. And that’s them, that’s Amazon. You’re not Amazon. So if you want to say, I wanted to sell everything to everyone, I would say what’s the best printer, all of them? You need them all? And you need every [inaudible 00:07:23] available, right? So that’s not the answer you wanted, because you wanted to start with one. So you need to answer the questions, what do you want to sell? Who do you want to sell to? With a reasonable niche answer. And it’s okay to have a few possible answers, I think.

Marc Vila:

You might be dancing around, I’m thinking fishing, but I’m also thinking outdoor gear. I mean, just start to just gather some of these things, and it will come together.

Mark Stephenson:

Because it’s not like you’re going to buy one piece of equipment that will only print on fishing shirts. Or one piece of equipment that will only print on bandanas. Those you’re probably not going to get. But also I think the, where do you plan to fulfill the orders is a good one to mark because of the idea of space and power. If you’re going to work in your back bedroom, if you’re going to start as a side hustle at home, then something that takes up a 50 by 50 foot space is probably not going to work well.

Mark Stephenson:

If you are going to set up business in a retail shop, then something that makes a lot of noise or is very messy is probably not going to be appealing to your retail customers. So what do you want to sell? Who do you want to sell it to? And where are you going to make your stuff, are important considerations to start with.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, yeah. And then I would say the things you shouldn’t ask yet because you’re not ready for this yet. It’s important to walk yourself through a process.

Mark Stephenson:

You’re so disciplined.

Marc Vila:

Yes. Thank you. So things we aren’t going to ask yet is, don’t ask. I don’t want to talk about budget yet or how much stuff costs. And there’s a reason why. We definitely don’t want to talk about what technology you heard of, or what some other people are doing, or what your friends business is doing or what some stranger online that you don’t even know if is a real person said in a Facebook comment, right?

Mark Stephenson:

Right. And that goes for about what they like or don’t like.

Marc Vila:

What they don’t like, what is the best, which one you shouldn’t buy, which one you should buy.

Mark Stephenson:

If any sentence at this point starts with, “I heard that,” then just stop that train of thought right away.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, because let me tell you a secret here. Everything that we’re naming here, there are thousands, if not millions, I don’t even know the numbers and all these things of people who use these printers, all over the globe, some of them for decades, making money continuously still with printers for five years or 10 years, and are still making money with that same printer in business and make a living doing it. So whatever you heard that’s on this list, if you heard something really good, okay, that might be that person’s story. You heard a failure. It’s somebody who failed at it. And if you heard somebody doesn’t like something, well, again, “What’s the best printer?” That one was not the best for them. It doesn’t mean it’s not the best for you.

Mark Stephenson:

Good point.

Marc Vila:

And there’s one other last question is, what else do I need to buy? Like a [crosstalk 00:10:48] or what heat press I get? Don’t ask that yet, because you haven’t picked your printer yet. So you’re going to-

Mark Stephenson:

That make a difference.

Marc Vila:

Yes. Yeah, they matter. So you’re going to go online and say, “What’s the best heat press?” And again, I’m not even going to repeat it, because it’s the same story I just told you. And they’re going to tell you the wrong answer for all the reasons I just mentioned above.

Mark Stephenson:

And we get that all the time, too. Someone buys a DTG printer and gets the wrong heat press or digital heat effects, gets the wrong heat press and…

Marc Vila:

I’ve seen people wanting to use a cricket iron for white toner printer transfers. I actually had that question the other day. So is the cricket iron a good heat press? Yeah, probably. There’s a ton of them out there. There’s a ton of shirts made with cricket heat press. It’s good. I’m sure.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s good heat. You are the press.

Marc Vila:

Okay, so you’re making hobby stuff at home, and you’re spending your own money and you’re not borrowing anything, and you’re saving pennies, and you got, I don’t even know how much it cost, 250 bucks? And you want to make just little t-shirts for you and your friends to play in, it’s good. So there’s an answer to that. Let’s move on from that. So what’s a good heat press? What type of X should they get? What type of shirts should I buy? Are questions you need to ask later, when you know what printer you’re going to use. And then you can talk about answering that question.

Mark Stephenson:

So how are we going to break down talking about these different technologies?

Marc Vila:

In my head I thought of, I’m going to think of some ideas. And maybe we can even say some out loud, right? But you’re going to think of the questions asked about, what kind of what kind of stuff do you want to make? Who are you going to sell it to? Where are you going to do it? That’s in my opinion, is the basis of this. So it could be shirts for fishing, and it could be, I’m going to sell it on the internet to people who fish, and I’m going to make it in my studio apartment. That could be one.

Marc Vila:

Another person could be, “I have a shop, I’m trying to break into a new market of selling prints on demand to people who want a really super high quality print, because I want to charge like 40, 50 bucks a shirt for these things. And I want them to be the best t-shirt they’ve owned. And I have a shop where people walk into already.” That could be another scenario. So you can feel free to use those examples if you want, Marc, or you can just ignore it later on.

Mark Stephenson:

No, I like that idea. I think that we just have to make sure that we have a scenario for each one of the technologies.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and we can add more.

Mark Stephenson:

And then we talk about the pros and cons and kind of the opportunities won and lost, the available opportunities for each kind of technology.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, I think that that’s good. You have an idea in your head, maybe or maybe not already, if you’re listening to this. You may have paused at this and came back to it a week later with your idea. I’m okay. I’m okay with you doing that. Or listen to the whole thing and then you come back and listen to it again, but now you kind of got an idea in your head. Or maybe you already have two or three ideas, and they’re floating around and now you’re going to able to make a decision. It’s going to be very simple just like the car and truck scenario.

Marc Vila:

You don’t have to be any guru or genius to hear the stats on a Pickup truck versus a Mustang versus a Toyota Prius to determine which one is probably best for you. Same as this. So let’s talk about the different technologies, the different printers. I didn’t put pro or con in my head on this, because I feel that it’s an unfair way to represent some things, because a con to one person is not a con to another.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, let’s rephrase that as options you may or may not have.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, options I may or may not have, things that may or may not matter to you. That’s important too.

Mark Stephenson:

Well, I don’t mind your fishing shirts as an example, especially if you’re talking about noodling shirts.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that is a type of fishing.

Mark Stephenson:

So sublimation has been on our minds quite a bit lately. We just finished a podcast with Vic Patel from Sawgrass, we’re really excited about that relationship. And we’ve got vapor apparel now on the website on colemanandcompany.com, which is a premium, beautifully designed, supplementable set of shirts. So we’re thinking about that a lot. But so in the fishing, like if I was going to open up, let’s say, my niche market, I’m in Tampa, Florida, and I’ve got a lot of contacts in the marine industry. So fishing, tourism based around fishing, boating, all that kind of outdoors and outdoor adjacent physical activity. So with that in mind, where would you start?

Marc Vila:

No, that’s good. That’s a that’s a good thought. I think it would be a good idea, now that you’ve… I think we can flip this slightly. Once we describe the technologies, in the end, the listener will know which one based on what you just said, and we will as well. Because I think it’s really important to teach someone how to fish in so many words.

Mark Stephenson:

I like this. Would you provide them with a fishing shirt? Or would you sell them a fishing shirt as part of your coursework?

Marc Vila:

I think teaching them how to fish means know that they picked the right printer, and then they printed their own fishing shirt, on their own, in a fictional like six weeks from now. So let’s just go into each technology then, and think about that, think about that fishing shirt concept. And then I also want you to think about the other example that we give. And we could just keep these in our minds as we’re listening to things. The other one was you own a shop, or you have some sort of traffic walk in and you want to sell really premium t-shirts, digital images, crazy, cool art, big prints, and you want it to be the best t-shirt anyone’s ever owned. That’s kind of the vision you have, is like when they buy this shirt, it’s going to be 40 bucks, it’s going to be the best-shirt they ever owned.

Marc Vila:

They’re going to walk into the store and maybe pick the shirt that they want, the design, will have custom design work done that they’ll pay for. And then they’re going to get the shirt, it’s going to be awesome. People are going to ask for it, it’s going to be their favorite shirt. That’s a second scenario. Let’s talk about technologies. Do you want to start with DTG?

Mark Stephenson:

Yes, it’s right on top. And it’s one that I love. I direct to garment printing. And now, at ColDesi, we’ve had the DTG digital line of direct to garment printers for a long time, we’ve got the G4, which is an amazing, technologically fantastic machine, and the Epson F2100, which is a great way to get into the director garment printer. So those printers range from about 14, $15,000 up to 20. I think it’s important to put that out there upfront, even though we’re going to talk about money later.

Marc Vila:

Yes, it’s really important. Yeah, I think that’s good. And part of the decision making processes is, I’ll lay it out early since we might talk about money. The reason why you don’t want to talk about money in the very, very beginning, is because if you’ve got a good business plan, and you have a reasonable credit or a way to borrow money, whether it’s through a bank or a credit card or leasing company or friend of the family. If you have a good business plan, the cost of what you’re buying does not matter.

Mark Stephenson:

Thank you.

Marc Vila:

Because if you’re buying a restaurant, it might cost you $150,000 to open up your restaurant. If you have a good business plan, it’s a profitable restaurant, but it costs you 150 grand. Well, if you were able to borrow the money, and you had a good business plan, you’ve made it. So anything goes in all these different directions, if you’ve got a good business plan, that it doesn’t matter how much the printer cost, because you have a good plan and a means to borrow the money. If the plan is not good, then why would you do any of this?

Mark Stephenson:

And there’s this kind of inverse relationship between the cost of the printer and the cost of the materials it takes to make a shirt. So there’s a lot of factors that go into the profitability for each one of these. But we’ll start with DTG. DTG is Direct To Garment printing. And basically, this is the one where you’re actually printing right onto the shirt. You’re not making a transfer, you’re actually loading a shirt onto a platen, pushing it into the printer, and you hit print, just like you’re loading a piece of paper into an inkjet printer at home.

Mark Stephenson:

So you’re printing directly on the shirt. And what that does is it gives you 10 out of 10 quality. I mean, these are if you have seen somebody wearing a shirt, and you thought it was beautiful. If you’ve seen any of the samples that we put pictures up and things like that, they’re amazing quality shirts, great pictures. And if you’re buying a custom shirt from a place like Zazzle, whose shirts are custom made, or something like that, where you’re just ordering one online, there’s a 98% chance that it was done with Direct To Garment. It’s got a very low cost of printing. It works on both light and dark garments. Though it prints on white, it prints on black and everything in between.

Mark Stephenson:

It prints on cotton only for dark shirts. So in other words, it’ll print on white poly, but it won’t print on dark poly. One of the things that makes it really high quality is what’s called the smoke effect. So if you have fire or smoke or something like that on a shirt, if you can envision the kind of smoke getting wispy as it gets farther from the design, it can only do that because it’s putting ink directly onto the fabric. There doesn’t have to be continuous layer of something for a transfer.

Marc Vila:

So essentially, you’re saying you can print when you have an inkjet printer, it can print one micro droplet like a picoliter, one pixel, it can print one pixel dot. That’s the detail you can get down to.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, and you don’t have to have anything next to it. So you get a nice open design. It always prints white ink. I mean, you can select not to, but it prints white ink, which is really important. We’ll talk about why. But that’s what allows it to print on a dark garment. And again, the space requirements, you’re going to need the printer itself, which is not small, it’s decent size. You can still put, you’ll need at least one heat press and a pretreatment machine. So you can imagine that those are supplies, ink cartridge is the paper that goes on to a heat press. And that’s it, some cleaning supplies.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and the amount of space. The printer is going to be bigger than your washer or probably smaller than your washer and dryer.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, that’s good.

Marc Vila:

Okay, so if a heat press is going to be smaller than the amount of space your stove would take, or your sink would take-ish, something like that. And then of course-

Mark Stephenson:

We’ve done sample setups where it’s pretty easy to put this kind of setup into a 10 by 10 room.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And then pretreat a stove-ish style size space.

Mark Stephenson:

The whole setup I would say is, it’s very quiet. It’s small enough to put into the back of a retail store.

Marc Vila:

So in a retail store, it’s fine because it’s quiet. And the space is reasonable. You do want, if you’re in a studio apartment, I hope you don’t have a lot of things.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, you’re not going to want to do that.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you’re going to sleep next to it, right?

Mark Stephenson:

You don’t want to move this thing up four flights of stairs either.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. Okay, there you go. Yeah, good, good. I would imagine I wouldn’t want to do that. I mean, you could, if your retail space was on the second floor of a mall, I mean, you could do this. But yeah, moving into a fourth floor studio apartment is probably not going to be my favorite thing to do there. And the last thing is the production cost on this, what’s it costs like to print a shirt?

Mark Stephenson:

I mean, you’re going to be using good quality ringspun cotton shirts which can range between four and $6. You could get down to $2, but you really don’t want to. And then your prints on a white shirt are going to be as low as 17 cents, 35 cents a piece, for ink and materials. And on a dark shirt, you could spend $1.52 bucks. And you can do, they’re 16 by 20. So you can produce a print that’s about 16 by 20.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that’s particularly large, that’s a large print. And if you want to know how big that is, you could take four sheets of paper and put them in a rectangle square. That’s not exactly 16 by 20, but it’s pretty close. It would be 17 by 22.

Mark Stephenson:

Or you could just call call desk and get a sample.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that’s a good idea, too. But that’s your example of how big this thing is. The production cost is really low. So outside of the t-shirt, because the t-shirt is a part of all of these transaction, but the ink cost is super cheap on this, right?

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, ink is going to be less than $1, 50% of the times and less than $2, 40% of the times and sometimes you’ll spend more.

Marc Vila:

Okay, good. I’ll summarize it really quick from what I got for you. So the quality of print, amazing. Light and dark garments. But if you’re going to do dark, only cotton. You could do full color digital prints that are that smoke effect, you can fade to nothing. You can do any detail anywhere you want anywhere on the shirt, right? It will print white, which is imperative on printing on dark colors. And just imagine if this was a black shirt I’m wearing here with a ColDesi logo, the ColDesi logo could not be in black like it is in this gray shirt, it needs to be in white. So it prints white.

Marc Vila:

The space requirements are a large printer, a heat press, a table, everything needs a table, but it’s on the list and a pretreat machine. And production cost is pretty low. So you can create 10 out of 10 quality feel look wash images at a really low cost.

Mark Stephenson:

Yep. The only other thing I would add is I would give it the award for if you want to put a photo on a black shirt.

Marc Vila:

Okay, so photo on the black shirt looks the best. Yeah, photo on a black shirt, you’re not going to be that, I would agree. Definitely has won the award for that. There’s no other way to do it that’s going to look as amazing.

Mark Stephenson:

Cool.

Marc Vila:

So now we’ll move on to white toner transfers, or digital heat effects. These are all words and names that are synonymous with this type of printing. And to define it, you take a toner printer, a specialized toner printer. And a toner printer is like the color copier machine, you may have used it in an office, right? When you change the cartridge, you shake it when it’s running low, and there’s powder in there, that’s toner. So it doesn’t use liquid. And that prints on a transfer sheet. This transfer sheet eventually makes its way on to a t-shirt for the sake of this conversation. And so you print that.

Marc Vila:

I was trying to rate the quality of this. And I said eight out of 10 because it can’t do quite as much on the color spectrum or vibrancy as the DTG.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, and it varies too because of the printers themselves.

Marc Vila:

Yes. And it varies because of the printers themselves. So the different printers will print differently, both the printers you mentioned like the G4 and the Epson, they will print, I’m not going to say a number of colors, but a million. And you’re printing right on the shirts, so you have a lot of control over that and you’re printing with white ink which is super vibrant in white, so you’re going to get that 10 and a 10. I give the white toner is an eight and a 10 because it just can’t do everything in the color spectrum, or the feel, or the wash, it’s quite as good as the DTG does.

Mark Stephenson:

But it does other things better.

Marc Vila:

Yes. And that’s what we’ll get into. So it works on light and darks, which is the same as a DTG. This one will print on cotton and polyester and blends, and I kind of put almost everything, there’s always an exception.

Mark Stephenson:

Almost everything, yeah.

Marc Vila:

Almost everything. And almost everything so much to the point where you’re not going to find an exception unless it’s a very, very specific shirt. So that’s a huge bonus, because now you can do dark colored polyester, you could do dark colored cotton blends, you could do try blends, you have a whole gamut of apparel, you can print, very cool. It will do full color digital prints as well. So you can print a picture of a face, or a picture of a dog, or a building, or something like that.

Marc Vila:

The difference is, is it does not fade to nothing. So you need to have kind of a hard stop somewhere.

Mark Stephenson:

That means like if you have a picture of my face, it’ll either end at my face, or it’ll include the whole room. But you won’t be able to pick up the lovely wispy gray hairs that stick out.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you would want to put an effect behind you, whether it’s you or you’re on some sort of background or picture of the background. And there’s different techniques and tricks you could do with like dots, stripes, all different types of stuff like that, to kind of make a [inaudible 00:31:31] fade out.

Mark Stephenson:

But I will say one thing about the colors of the prints, is you’re not going to know how the DTG can be so much better, like on a photo, for example, unless you put them right next to each other. So there are things that we’re going to talk about here that are differences between the printers that your customers will be completely unaware of. They’re not going to get a full color photo in a digital heat effects print. And saying, “Wow, this isn’t as nice as the DTG print that I’ve got of the same photo.”

Marc Vila:

Chances are that’s not going to happen.

Mark Stephenson:

They’re not going to do that.

Marc Vila:

And kind of going back to our example, the person who had a shop where they were like, “I want to make the best possible shirt.” That’s their goal. They might hear this and say, “So you’re saying the DTG picture was better?” Yes. Okay, that might be part of your decision making process. And that’s okay. Another person might say, “Well, I might print some faces, I’m not going to focus on that. I really like the idea that I can print on almost any shirt though.” So now, here’s our decision making process on which one’s better. Two different people could very well, at this point in time have a definition of which one is better for them.

Marc Vila:

Do white toner transfers do print white? They can also print on hard goods, too, because there’s papers for that. So that’s kind of a side bonus. You can print on a little bit of hard good stuff with DTG like wood or canvas, but you’re not going to make a mug. There are certain things you’re not going to really do with that printer. You can print on a larger range of hard goods. So you can print on glass, wood, tile, mugs, ceramics, stuff like that metal on white toner transfers. The space requirements on that, it’s just a printer, a heat press, and a table. The printer, there are varying degrees of printers and their size. But the largest you’re going to find is going to be just about the space of that washer.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, that’s a good point. Or if you remember what going into an office was like, for example, the digital heat effects 9541 is the closest to that big commercial coffee machine.

Marc Vila:

The one we were talking about before. Yeah, color copier that-

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, that’s exactly what it looks like. And then the smallest which this recording is probably the unit at I560 100 Digital heat effects of branding. And that’s going to be about the dimensions of a good laser printer, but a little taller.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, just the size of a printer you may have owned, or a little bigger. A little bit bigger than that, but a desktop. You can have this on a table with a laptop, and a notepad, and other things on one desk.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s a win for space.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, it’s a win for space. So now that we’ve talked about things here and that we are blossoming thoughts for different people, the space is part of this decision, what it will print on is part of this decision. The rating of the end quality as part of the decision. And so anyway, let’s move on to the next one.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, well, I’ll tell you, two things I do want to say is that you’ll still need to heat press.

Marc Vila:

The heat press, yeah.

Mark Stephenson:

And you’ll need very specific heat presses. You know what I mean? They require a certain amount of space and a certain amount of cost that’s included in that. And also, this one falls into a little bit more and moderate supply costs. So you’ll spend less upfront, but the white toner printer transfers, the easy peel is usually more expensive for the same size print on DTG.

Marc Vila:

Yes, and here’s actually why in the simplest way. DTG, you’re printing ink onto shirt. Digital heat effects, you’re printing ink onto paper, paper onto shirt. You’re not inking is a toner, but whatever; colors. Colors on paper, paper on to shirt, you’ve got an extra supply; paper. The DTG is just colors to shirt. So naturally, you would imagine that’s less money, there’s one less thing to buy.

Mark Stephenson:

And I’m going to say two things. One, the one you’re going to heat, [crosstalk 00:36:04]. The one that you’re going to like is that one of the great advantages to the white toner transfer printers isn’t just the flexibility, it’s the idea that you can sell the transfers wholesale.

Marc Vila:

Okay, I like that.

Mark Stephenson:

So if part of your niche is to be a wholesaler to other people that print t-shirts, then this is 100% great way to do it. You physically can’t do that with DTG, you have to deliver a shirt. With the white toner printer or digital heat effects, you can take that transfer that you can put on multiple shirts or objects and you can sell that to somebody else [inaudible 00:36:45]. So that’s a big deal.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, which are different things. And there’s people who have DTG printers that sell wholesale shirts, but they’re selling the completed garment versus selling a transfer.

Mark Stephenson:

And the thing that I will say that is completely inappropriate for this podcast is, is this is the right product if you cannot make a decision about what you want to sell. If you don’t know, if like, “Look, Marc, I love you guys, but I have no freaking idea. I just know that I want to make stuff and sell it to people.” Okay, well, whatever you buy the digital heat effects, you got a 97% chance that you’re going to be able to do something.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that’s a good point. And you’re right. I mean, generally speaking, we advise have some sort of a plan before you get going because we want you to succeed. But I will say because I’m a realist, a dream’s a dream. And if you want to own your own business and sell t-shirts, and it’s a dream you have, and you are still waiting to iron out the future of those details and you’re ready to invest the money and just see how it goes and you’re going to make it work, then I’m not going to say I’m never going to squash on a dream. I don’t want to ever do that. Unless you want to tell me like you want to, I don’t know, do some sort of ridiculous career that is impossible to actually do. You want to be a prince of a country. Okay, move on. Sorry.

Mark Stephenson:

There goes that one.

Marc Vila:

There goes, move on. You want to sell t-shirts to people and make money. All right. Sure. But I would agree you’re right, and the versatility is amazing on it, so that that is true.

Mark Stephenson:

And it’s also our most popular printer right now. Our most popular by a lot, by five times.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, it’s very popular. So next technology. Would you prefer to talk about-

Mark Stephenson:

Next technology is sublimation.

Marc Vila:

Okay, good. Talk about it. Tell us.

Mark Stephenson:

No, I mean, this is really something that you’ll see some stuff on the Coleman and Company site that’s branded best blanks, which are blanks for sublimation printers. And these things are just, like we’re so excited because it’s a pretty new product for ColDesi. It’s just it’s low cost of entry and makes amazing quality stuff. So it really is going to be a contender. By this time next year, it will be the most popular.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, it’s going to be really popular. So quality of the print.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, it’s great.

Marc Vila:

And so I rate it. It’s hard to rate this because of some limitations that we’ll get into. But, I mean, I’ve rated it like nine out of 10. Color, the feel, the wash. It’s hard to give it a number because I don’t want to say it’s better necessarily than the digital heat effects print or worse than the DTG. But it will work on light colors only. And it works on poly only.

Mark Stephenson:

Now, I think while you’re talking about color, the nine out of 10 makes sense because with DTG you have the option of well, they all have blacking. With white toner printers, some of them don’t have black and some of them do. Sublimation, you never get blacking. No, that’s-

Marc Vila:

White, you don’t get white.

Mark Stephenson:

You never get whiting. That’s why the colors will look a little bit differently, even on a light colored shirt, you can add white ink. And you can make an image pop more on both the digital heat effects and the DTG than you necessarily can get on with sublimation.

Marc Vila:

Yes, and it really is because when you’re buying a white t-shirt or a black t-shirt, it’s never actually true white or true black.

Mark Stephenson:

Yes, [crosstalk 00:40:40] crazy.

Marc Vila:

There’s color to it. So if you bought 10 white shirts and 10 black shirts, they would all be different degrees of those colors. And you might even look at one white next to another and say, “That looks almost gray.” But you didn’t see it by itself, it was white. But in comparison.

Mark Stephenson:

We deal with black shirts all the time.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, so you’re right about that is the ability to print white, does a couple things, you get a pure white that you can put your colors on top of which is amazing. And then you’re also mixing that white with other colors, which will create what we would refer to as a larger gamut of colors. The white and the black and all these things can mix. They all can mix on a t-shirt, essentially, and create more degrees of colors; more pinks, more greens, more yellows.

Marc Vila:

The print looks beautiful on the sublimated print. I love the way it looks. It feels knock out because you’re not putting anything on the shirt. It’s going into the shirt physically.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, it doesn’t feel, it has no feel.

Marc Vila:

There is no feel, you’re changing the chemical properties of the shirt.

Mark Stephenson:

You’re literally dying the shirt.

Marc Vila:

You’re dyeing the shirt at pinpoint color. So that’s kind of why I think 9/10. It could be 10/10, it could be 8/10 depending on how we’re rating all these things. So I gave it nine, my personal thoughts, but it is all really good. And honestly, all three of what we’re talking about here are all great. Top notch. So maybe nine maybe eight, depending on, if I needed to be on a black shirt, it’s a zero out of 10.

Mark Stephenson:

Right, because you can’t do it.

Marc Vila:

Okay, if it’s on a white shirt, it might be one of my favorites. But I don’t want polyester, it’s zero out of 10.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s going to feel better than the digital heat effects and the white toner prints. It doesn’t feel like it’s there. It’s going to feel about the same as DTG. But you’re trading that for the color.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and you’re trading it for what it can go on. So now we’re beginning to understand sublimation is limited on colors, and that type of material, but the finished product’s phenomenal. So it does full digital color prints, tons of colors. It will do that fade to nothing smoke type of effect. It does not print white, though. So if you want to do a yellow shirt, and somebody has a logo with white in it. No, you cannot do that. If somebody has a logo that’s a little cartoon kid smiling with big white teeth, because it’s a dentist, and it’s all cartoon kids smiling with bright white teeth. Don’t put it on a yellow shirt, because-

Mark Stephenson:

They’re going to think it’s an example.

Marc Vila:

They’re going to think the kid doesn’t brush.

Mark Stephenson:

Here’s the thing is if you don’t have the white ink to put what’s called an under base behind the design, the color of the shirt that you put the transfer on is going to influence the color of the graphic in the end.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and you don’t have white, so you can’t print white teeth or white eyes. So that shirt has to be on white. So you don’t print white. It will print on a ton of hard goods.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, man, if you’ve gotten a mug like I got a mug from my daughter for Father’s Day. With photos of my grandkids on it.

Marc Vila:

Nice.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s 100% it’s sublimation. Like if you’ve gotten a decorated mug, it has been sublimated, there’s almost no… Other than digital heat effects, which it can do very well, not many people do it, so it’s going to be a sublimation mug. It’s a great [crosstalk 00:44:35].

Marc Vila:

Yeah, most of it, and I’m actually using a digital heat effects printed mug right here.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I noticed. It’s great.

Marc Vila:

It’s a red mug. There is white. We printed white, and end other colors.

Mark Stephenson:

So you can tell it’s not been sublimated.

Marc Vila:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, because it’s a full color mug. Now, if that mug is sublimation friendly, I could have put maybe a black logo on it. But we wouldn’t get that white, and we can’t remove it. So the space requirements for sublimation printer’s about the same as that digital heat effects. Desktop space. You need a printer. You need a heat press, you need a table.

Mark Stephenson:

The sublimation printers are small. It’s an 11 by 17 printer or an eight and a half by 11. No, it’s going to be-

Marc Vila:

It’s the size of any printer you’ve had, almost.

Mark Stephenson:

Any printer, yeah.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And the production cost, moderate/low. You do have ink, paper shirt, the steps, but the paper cost is a bit less. Because you don’t have-

Mark Stephenson:

Can you give me an example, like a rough idea.

Marc Vila:

I can. I’m going to pull it up for you real quick, just because I have too many numbers in my head right now, but I’ll say why it’s less. Why it’s a bit less is because the toner prints on the paper, there’s actually two sheets of paper you use for every print. One is your printer paper. One is what we call your polymer paper, or your… it’s the adhesive.

Mark Stephenson:

Glue.

Marc Vila:

Glue.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s confusing, because you’re holding up two fingers for each. So it’s like there’s four pieces of paper.

Marc Vila:

So you can get an 11 by 17, 100 sheets of sublimation paper for like 30 bucks. So what’s that, like? 30 cents?

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah.

Marc Vila:

Right. And then your in cost is a bit. But low to moderate. The cost is not quite the cost of your digital heat effects transfer. It’s not quite as good as the DTG. It’s kind of stuck somewhere in the middle. It’s got advantages and disadvantages. There’s no glue, so you’re pinpoint dyeing your shirt, which makes it feel really nice. But you don’t have white, and you’re limited to light colored garments.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s the most economical cost of entry so far.

Marc Vila:

The most economical cost of entry you can get in this business. You can buy paper, mugs, a mug wrap, use your oven at home, and a printer. And you could be in this thing for like, seven, 800 bucks.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, let’s say that most people that are going to do it as a business end up in the $3,000 to $3500 range.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, 3000-

Mark Stephenson:

You can start for under a grand, no problem.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, well, and if you already have a DTG printer and you realize that you want to add this, or you already do transfers that you buy in the internet and you want to add sublimation to your business, you might just need the printer and some paper. So you’re like six, 700 bucks. So it depends what you’re doing, and where you’re starting from. But for a few 1000 bucks, you can be locked and loaded and fully ready from scratch.

Marc Vila:

So now we have two more to go over. So I think we’re good on time. Do you want to talk about the print and cut systems? Or do you want me to run those ones?

Mark Stephenson:

You want to do print and cut next? Yeah, there it is. Yeah, and by print and cut, we’re using a specific example. And that is the Roland VersaSTUDIO BN-20, because that is probably it’s the sweet spot for this technology. I’d say we didn’t mention that in the DTG world, you can spend a half a million dollars on a Direct To Garment printer. And it’s the same, it’s not quite the same range, but you can go crazy spending money on large format sublimation printers. And the same goes for the printing cut. There are big commercial operations that have much more expensive and larger machines available, but they all basically do the same thing.

Mark Stephenson:

You can think of a printing cut system like the Roland BN-20. It looks like a cutter with ink cartridges. So you have the best and worst of both worlds. You’re using vinyl and you’re using ink. So ink like in sublimation or DTG and vinyl, like in just a regular cutter. And you pull up a file on your computer and you print and cut at the same time. So you get full color prints that get cut out of a piece of vinyl.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great way of putting it. You’re creating your own digital full color transfer with vinyl as your paper, per se. Now the quality of the print, we talked a bit about this is like, it’s again, hard to put a number, but we’re trying to put numbers. So put maybe a seven out of 10. A slightly less than some of the others because it is vinyl, which means it’s inherently got some thickness to it, and a bit of a feel, which some folks will feel this and say it feels like a really nice quality screen print. And it could be considered a positive. Others will feel it and say, “It’s too thick. I wish it was thinner. It’s like a sticker”

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I mean, it gets similar kinds of comments to digital heat effects depending on-

Marc Vila:

Yeah, similar to that. Now, we’ll get into some more of some things why the rating was a little bit different than that. But it’s going to be the thickest print. It doesn’t mean that it’s uncomfortable, but going back to examples, fishing shirt with a giant fish on it out in the sun, getting wet and sweaty. Having a piece of polyurethane glued to the front of your shirt in a big giant fish is not going to be as breathable as the sublimation or even the DTG on a light colored shirt. It’s going to be a lot softer, breathable, it’s going to dry. The print and cut is you’re putting these vinyl polyurethane probably, more PVC on a shirt. So there’s inherently a thicker feel the way less breathe ability. It will work on dark and light colors though, which is great.

Mark Stephenson:

Yes. Absolutely.

Marc Vila:

And it will work on cotton poly and blends, which is just great. It will do the full color digital prints. Awesome. Love that. It doesn’t fade to nothing, and it actually generally speaking, maybe even very general here, generally speaking, kind of need a border and a bleed space. Most of the time if you see this-

Mark Stephenson:

There will be an outline.

Marc Vila:

If there’s a ColDesi logo, and if you can see my shirt in the video, great. If you have the ColDesi logo, then you typically are going to have like maybe just a white background too, and a border. That’s the typical look you’re going to see for a print and cut, because of the speed, the weeding of the vinyl. And then also even though your cutter and your printer are really, really accurate, because you’re using a knife to cut something, it’s never going to be one billion percent accurate, because you’re using a knife to cut something.

Marc Vila:

Anytime anything is ever die cut, cut out of anything like that, they always print a little extra. And this way because you could be off by hair and the hair looks funny. Or you just cut outside it a bit, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a hair off because you got a border.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, and the process is definitely different too. With the Direct To Garment printing, you’re loading the shirt into a DTG printer and it’s printing directly on it. And with both of the sublimation and the white toner print, digital heat effects and Sawgrass, you’re creating a transfer. So there’s another step in the process. With the print and cut system, with the BN-20. There’s no glue sheet that you use, but the extra step is you have to weed it. So you have a choice, you can either make a one big sticker, like if you’ll picture a school logo that’s just one entire graphic, then you’re just peeling that off the vinyl and heat pressing onto the shirt.

Mark Stephenson:

If you are doing a something more detailed, where on the ColDesi logo, if I need to pick out O or the E, you’re going to be using vinyl pick tools. So it really is like a digital, it’s a vinyl print, you’re printing on vinyl, everything that you have to do to get a vinyl transfer ready for application, you have to do with this.

Marc Vila:

And we’re going to talk more about that next, vinyl typically. And also since you’re creating a transfer that’s printed first, you need to mask it at the end before you put it on a t-shirt. So after you print and you’re all done and it looks like you’re ready to go, you put another sticker on top and peel it off. And now you’re ready to get on the shirt. So it’s a few steps; you print then you cut, then you weed then you mask, then you shirt. Those are some steps there. The quality can look awesome. It’s super averse at all on the light and darks and cotton, poly and blends. You have a little bit of downside with the border and the bleed, and things like that. But it still looks awesome. And it feels soft, but it’s not as soft as the sublimation or the-

Mark Stephenson:

You don’t have to use the print feature, you can use it just for regular t-shirt.

Marc Vila:

Okay, good.

Mark Stephenson:

Sorry, I will-

Marc Vila:

Let me pause you for a quick minute, Mark. I think check your microphone and audio for a moment, and I’ll always some time while you’re doing that. The production cost and that’s kind of moderate again, multiple materials. You have the ink and you have vinyl and you have mask. So you’ve got a few different things that you’re working with. And we can compare this to the others. DTG, you just have the ink. Sublimation you just have the ink in one paper and the digital heat effects, you have the ink and two papers, the Roland versaStudio print and cut you’ve got ink and vinyl and the mask.

Marc Vila:

Okay, so you’ve got different materials cost kind of moderate. All right, Mark, we’re checking back in with you.

Mark Stephenson:

Still working here first.

Marc Vila:

Okay, you sound good, though.

Mark Stephenson:

Do I?

Marc Vila:

You sound good.

Mark Stephenson:

Okay, cool. Sound good right now. So the thing that I wanted to point out was this is probably the only one of the systems that we’re starting, that we’re talking about today, that I would almost say the primary thing that it does well isn’t t-shirts. Like, this is the best t-shirt printer comparison. People do use it to make t-shirts, make custom t-shirts, custom jackets, things like that.

Mark Stephenson:

But honestly, like it’s a 24-inch eco-solvent style cutter that will do banners, stickers, window clings, signage for the site of vehicles. I would put this in… Typically, I do put it in the 80/20 rule. If 20% of your business is going to be t-shirts. Like if you also want to do shirts, then this is a great option for you. But if you’re doing your niche markets and your plans and everything, and when you look at it, you suddenly realize, “I’m going to do more pinstriping and locker stickers, and things for backpacks and signage. And I’m going to do every window in town with business logos and words,” then this is definitely the printer that you want.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and I love that. I love that, because like you said, the t-shirt print quality is like a tick lower than the others if we’re having to compare. But if you’re doing work for a brewery, you can do the beer bottle label, the window sticker on the door, you can do the shirts and the hats. You can also do stickers that they give out to their customers. You can do bumper stickers for people, you can do the decal that goes in the glass of the back of the owner’s car. All that stuff. So you could do a ton of stuff with this.

Marc Vila:

You could do window clean signs that cling on and cling off to change out different specials-

Mark Stephenson:

It’s versatile.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, very, very versatile. Very cool compact. The vinyl you print on is white. So it doesn’t print white, but it is white. So theoretically, you could create this mug that I’m showing here. However, it’d be a sticker on the mug. Generally speaking, you don’t put a sticker on the mug. You want something a little more permanent.

Mark Stephenson:

And you don’t put stickers in the dishwasher.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, mainly that. So it’s great for sign production. It’s pretty darn good for t-shirts, too. Not to pick for you, but take that into consideration.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I think that if someone is looking at a t-shirt that was printed on the Roland, if they’re looking for it by itself, they’ll probably love it.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, if this logo had a little white border around it and it was printed on a white vinyl with the [inaudible 00:59:26], you would look at my shirt. And you would say, “Man, that looks nice.” No, that looks nice. Your customer will be happy.

Mark Stephenson:

Again, they’re not going to do the same logo with the BN-20, with the Sawgrass, with the Epson DTG printer, and with the three digital heat effects printer. They’re not going to put them side by side bigger.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, they’re all going to look great. Space requirements, you do have the print cutter, which is bigger than some of the other printers we’ve talked about, but not quite a DTG. But almost, right?

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I’d say it’s probably, it’s at least two and a half of or three of a desktop printer wide.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, so it’s a bit bigger, but not huge. Still compact enough. You need to heat press still, if you’re going to do shirts. If you just can do the stickers, you actually don’t need it. But then we’re not talking about t-shirts. And you need a table, you always need a table. Okay, so we talked and I already talked about the production cost while you were working on mic. So we’re good to move on to the last on the list, which is cutters.

Mark Stephenson:

Yep.

Marc Vila:

So Roland mix cutters. Graphtec is another brand that we carry. Those are two amazing products, super high quality. And so the way that this works is you have a roll of material, similar to how the VersaSTUDIO works. But you don’t print on it, you just cut. So you cut one color at a time and you make shirts with that. If it’s a white and black on a blue shirt, you cut your white, put it on the shirt, cut your black, put it on the shirt, and then you have a completed shirt. That’s pretty much how that works.

Mark Stephenson:

It’s one color at a time. It’s not just one color designs, but it’s one color at a time.

Marc Vila:

So this is the the first thing and only thing on the list that’s not digital. There’s no liquid, there’s no powder, there’s no color mixing. It’s one color at a time, you buy the colors, you cut the colors. After you cut them you remove away any of the stuff you don’t want to put onto the t-shirt aka heating. So if you cut out the word ColDesi, you remove the inside of the O, the inside of the E, you peel away everything around it and now you just see the word ColDesi in one color and you put that on shirt. If you want a second color-

Mark Stephenson:

It’s the commercial version of a cricket.

Marc Vila:

Commercial version of a cricket or silhouette. 10 times faster, 10 times bigger, 10 times better. It’s legit commercial version of something like that. So if you know what that is, you know what it is.

Mark Stephenson:

If you’re going to do lettering on the back of a jersey like somebody’s name going in the back of a jersey, this is what you want to use.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, we have a sports vinyl that’s specifically for that. So we talked about an example earlier, The Game Day jersey. The material specifically for Game Day jerseys is what you put into your cutter.So we gave this on a seven out of 10, really maybe it needs to be a six, I don’t know. Again, these are arbitrary numbers that don’t mean anything.

Mark Stephenson:

But I got to tell you, I think the feel is a 10.

Marc Vila:

The feel is a 10-

Mark Stephenson:

[crosstalk 01:02:41] final, if it’s a good quality vinyl, if it’s not metallic or if there’s nothing special about it, it’s just a good color, then the train vinyl feels amazing.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, we sell a brand on colemanandcompany.com called Triton, which it’s a really thin, really soft when you heat it onto the shirt. It almost feels like nothing’s there. It’s really hard to pick out unless you’ve layered like, three, four layers on top of each other. And it’s really thin. Really-

Mark Stephenson:

It’s at least of that.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, so the feel is like a nine, but you can’t print colors. You’re not printing colors. It’s not digital. So that kind of knocks it down a little bit. So anyway, point is, it’s really great, but you’re not printing colors. So it’s a little deceiving to say which is the best printer, but people will call a cutter printer all the time. So it works on light and dark-

Mark Stephenson:

Works on a wide variety of materials, right?

Marc Vila:

Works on just about any material, almost everything; cotton, poly, blend. All your colors are based on color palettes. So everything else before this, you have a theoretical millions or hundreds of thousands of colors. Every combination of CMY K and W you can imagine. With cutter, if you’re just cutting materials, you maybe have dozens of colors, hundreds if you’re using like every brand on the planet, maybe, but not an infinite amount. You must layer to achieve multiple colors, you can’t mix colors, blend, create new shades.

Mark Stephenson:

That’s a good way to put it. You can put as many colors next to each other as you would like. But if you put them on top of each other, the one on top wins.

Marc Vila:

Yes, the one on top wins. Exactly. That’s how most of them are designed to be. You can’t fade out, it’s all very, very hard stops. Because it’s a physical piece of material you’re gluing and cutting on with a knife. So it’s a hard stuff. You’re not going to fade out into smoke or clouds. A cloud is going to be a cartoon cloud. It’s not going to be a wisp of smoke. A side note on this, you can do stickers. Your solid color stickers, a logo with one or two or three or whatever colors, you can do that. Glitter.

Mark Stephenson:

The different there is the Roland, is a print and cut. So you could do a full color picture as a sticker.

Marc Vila:

Yes, you could do our logo of ColDesi, which is, technically this one has one, two, three, four, five, six colors in it. You do that one shot. If you’re going to cut that you have to cut six colors, weed six colors, create six transfers, heat press six times.

Mark Stephenson:

And you have to drink a lot, because nobody wants to do that.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And you’re going to be in front of the heat press for a long time, so you will be sweating. So you need to hydrate.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, exactly.

Marc Vila:

But I was going to say next before we… Glitter. We have glitter here. So this is now the only one. Digital heat effects can do a bit with glitter, but true vibrant brand, bright glitter. And then other features; super stretchy, super thick. Path materials, holographic materials. You get into some cool things because we can create things on rolls. We’ve made out of polyurethane and PVC and such. You could do crazy cool effects with glitter and metallic, and all of that.

Mark Stephenson:

If you’re not already a crafter or a crafty kind of person, getting into working with a cutter will definitely bring that out in you. Because everything you try gets cooler and cooler as you try it.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. I love doing it. I think it’s really fun. Some of the stuff that I’ve made for my family, some of their favorite ones are the vinyl ones. Just because we had a really unique color or you combine glitter and white and black and pops off the shirt. It looks very cool. So the space, the space is about the same as the other printers. A little bit less than that BN-20 VersaSTUDIO, maybe-ish.

Mark Stephenson:

It depends on the size of the cutter.

Marc Vila:

If we’re going smallest, that’s a commercial grade, it’s going to be smaller than the BN-20 because you don’t have the ink portion of it. So you just need that much less space. You can definitely do a table top, you’ll need a heat press and you’ll need a table. But computer heat press table, laptop and you could do this. I’ve done this on my patio table here. I’ve had the cutter out here many times with my cutter. And just I’ve done it right here.

Mark Stephenson:

Super reliable, too. I know like it’s a mechanical piece of equipment, you’ve got to change the blades and things like that. But it’s a very reliable thing to use.

Marc Vila:

There’s no ink, there’s no printhead, there’s no toner, there’s no fuser. There’s no, no, no, no, no. There’s a lot of things you don’t have. Because you don’t have all of these things, there’s less things to break. Not that all the other machines are going to be down all the time and stuff like that, but they are going to require degrees of maintenance, which we didn’t really get into. But, I mean, if you have a good business plan and you’re going to make money with it, then maintaining that-

Mark Stephenson:

That stuff is not the matter.

Marc Vila:

Yes, that shouldn’t matter. I don’t want to do more work on it.

Mark Stephenson:

How about the production cost when you’re using vinyl? I’ve never really-

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you know what? It’s low to moderate. I say it’s hard to really pinpoint a cost on vinyl. But so I would say, if you’re saying a piece of vinyl, let me get my calculator. Because I want to do something because I thought I remembered it. I thought it was about 15 cents a square inch. I’m sorry, a linear inch. But let me just verify that real quick. So this will be momentary, but I think this is a good exercise. So [crosstalk 01:09:07] like regular white vinyl, and you’re going to buy like a decent sized roll of it. A nice size roll, so $140 for a roll of that. That’s 25 yards. 25 times 3. 75 feet times 12, 900 inches. 139 divided by 900 inches. I was right, 15.4.

Mark Stephenson:

15 cents. By the way that was [crosstalk 01:09:35]. The people that were driving in their car, we’re just enjoying trying to follow along.

Marc Vila:

Good. Good. So 15 cents for a linear inch. This is 20 inches wide, and you’re going one inch up. So if you’re doing a logo that’s an inch tall, and it’s four inches, you can fit maybe four of those across. So for that 15 cents, you made for logos. Pretty inexpensive.

Marc Vila:

Now as designs get larger, and you’re doing bigger logos, and there’s more negative space, you are throwing away more of the vinyl. So the cost varies. You spend about 15 cents a linear inches, the number that we like to talk about. So the cost is low to moderate, because it’s also one color for 15 cents. If it’s four colors, now it’s 15, 30, 45, 60 cents, right? So it’s low to moderate. You are investing a good amount in supplies, which is something that I consider to be a downside. Because that roll that’s 140, you have white, 90 black. Red, blue.

Marc Vila:

Now eventually, you’ve got $1,000 worth of materials, and you’re good to go-

Mark Stephenson:

You’re just working.

Marc Vila:

And you’re just working. But you are [inaudible 01:10:53] on color. So if a customer comes to you and says they want metallic gold, and you do not own any, and they only want five shirts, you have to make it-

Mark Stephenson:

You have to say no or buy the gold.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you just say I’m going to buy the gold to say yes. And I’ll make money with that later that first job is going to just pay for my whole gold though. So there’s some thoughts with that. Where on your digital printers, no matter what color they ask for, you pretty much can do.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah. And I mean, as point of comparison, that 15 or 30 cents that you spend for white vinyl might get you an eight by 10 full color photo on on white cotton with a DTG printer.

Marc Vila:

Yes, yes. Good point.

Mark Stephenson:

And the cutter is what, between 1500 and $2,000.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, roughly.

Mark Stephenson:

So it’s another example of that investing upfront versus supplies, and choosing your capabilities and what you need to accomplish based on your business.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, yeah. That’s a good point. And by this time, you’ve learned about the technologies. You should be able to start to understand which ones make the most sense for who you want to sell to.

Mark Stephenson:

And I’ve got an observation and a curveball. Because we always talk about it inside the walls of ColDesi. If you’re in the custom apparel business, you should have a cutter. I don’t care what else you have. It’s like when you move into South Tampa into the neighborhood that I live in. They give you a Yorkie, like, “Here’s your Yorkie. Welcome to South Tampa.” You shouldn’t be allowed to buy anything without a cutter if you’re going to get a printer machine. And that brings brings me to the idea that not only should you develop your plan of your niche, and who you want to sell to, and what kind of things you want to sell, and then choose the best t-shirt printer for you. But you shouldn’t restrict yourself to just one of these devices. Because the answer may be or should be more than one thing.

Marc Vila:

Yeah. And over time, it will be. So you can start with your one and have a plan for that. Many people start with two. I don’t know the percentages of numbers, do you know any people start with two?

Mark Stephenson:

At least 30% of the people-

Marc Vila:

30 percent. Okay, so about a third of the people start with two, because they realize it just makes sense because you wrote your plan. And you thought about all this stuff that we spelled out. And you cut two probably in mind. You may have had three, but one may be hits 75% of what you wanted, and two hits 100. And that’s why 30% of people oftentimes get with the second one too. So you have to consider what that means now.

Marc Vila:

Now we get to talk about budget, I think real quick, because we’re in a long episode here, but it’s a lot of good information. So budget. You’ve got what I said before, you have a good business plan. And you know what you have written down is profitable. You’ve got a reasonable way of obtaining money, meaning you have credit. So you can borrow money from a bank, you can lease a piece of equipment, you can get it financed, you can put it on a credit card. So then everything’s affordable at that point in time, because you’ve got a business plan and how you’re going to make money with this. It doesn’t matter if it costs 1000 or 10,000. You have a plan in place that you have put some diligence into making sure it works.

Mark Stephenson:

And it’s hard to think about that because big numbers, that’s when we get comments on Facebook, when we advertise digital heat effects machines, and let’s say it’s a $10,000 system, we get a percentage of people that tell us we’re crazy. They would never pay $10,000 for this piece of equipment. And it’s because they haven’t thought it through. They don’t know that they can or they just don’t have enough experience to realize that that’s not a lot of money to start a business.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, I mean, one might say that $65,000 is a crazy amount of money to spend on an automobile. But if-

Mark Stephenson:

I’m one that would say that.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, sure. I’m on that train with you. I don’t own that and I it’s just not my thing. But if you own that roofing company I mentioned earlier, and you have trailers of stuff you’re moving around, big trailers of stuff you’re moving around, and you’re going to a wholesaler that’s three hours away, and you’re putting five tons worth of stuff on a trailer and bringing it over. That business investment of a $70,000 truck makes perfect sense to them.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, absolutely.

Marc Vila:

It would be silly to try to do that.

Mark Stephenson:

[crosstalk 01:16:01] how much money you’re going to make.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, it would be silly to do that in Camry. Impossible, I would say.

Mark Stephenson:

I will say though, that the number that you should keep in mind when you’re thinking about your budget, and how much money you can spend, is that probably, the least our customers that buy a commercial piece of equipment make on a custom t-shirt is probably around $10. And the average is probably closer to 15 or 18. And there are people that are making 30 or $40 a shirt.

Marc Vila:

And this is from going on to our customer lists-

Mark Stephenson:

Customer apparel startups, Facebook group.

Marc Vila:

Customer apparel startups Facebook group. We ask people this, we survey. And this is what folks tell them.

Mark Stephenson:

This is what they say.

Marc Vila:

This is what they say, this isn’t stuff we make up.

Mark Stephenson:

So if you take a look at the, let’s take the G4 Direct To Garment printer, which is the priciest thing that we talked about today. So let’s say you even get one of the bundles, not just the printer itself, but you get the whole shebang for just $130,000, whatever a shebang is, I-

Marc Vila:

A shebang bundle. I’m not familiar with that.

Mark Stephenson:

A shebang bundle. Just under $30,000, it’s a little under $600 a month to finance. So at $10 a shirt, you have to sell 60 shirts in a month to pay for your printer. At $15 a shirt, it’s less. At $30 a shirt, it’s less.

Marc Vila:

At $600 a shirt, is it one?

Mark Stephenson:

It’s just a one. It’s the one shirt. So you get the point, think about it in number of shirts that you need to sell. If you’re going to sell 20 shirts a month that means that you know what, $15 shirt, you’ve got 300 bucks to finance your equipment with.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, that’s great. And some of this stuff goes down to less than 100 bucks a month.

Mark Stephenson:

Less than 100 bucks is 10 shirts. That’s why-

Marc Vila:

It’s honestly just stop buying as much Starbucks, that’s how much it is. Don’t go out to dinner once more, once less, whatever, I’m trying to say. That’s how little this is. It’s actually just paying attention to some of your money and moving it around. That’s how inexpensive a lot of this stuff is. And a lot of side hustle folks do them.

Marc Vila:

Now, let’s take one step down. Let’s just say you are starting from a financial situation that’s not ideal.

Mark Stephenson:

You’re broke.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, you’re broke for whatever reason that might be. You had another failed business, you had a terrible divorce, you had a bankruptcy or a foreclosure due to some sort of unforeseen financial condition you were put in. And now you’re saying, “I work with the cash I have. I can’t really borrow. I don’t have the means to borrow.” So then the budget comes into play more. And you look to your business. And you said, “Well, G4 is what I thought I wanted.” So you so you have to say, “Is there a technology that I can afford, that will lead me to the G4 level? Can I alter my business plan a little bit to get me there?” And that’s what a lot of folks do as well, is where they say, “I really had this idea of making this but I still have the dream that we talked about. So in my dream, I’m going to alter my plan to get to that point.”

Marc Vila:

And that’s where the budget matters more. So low budget stuff. The sublimation and the cutter are just dynamite.

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, you can do some amazing things.

Marc Vila:

Amazing stuff. I love them. We’ve already rated the quality of the stuff that comes out, and it’s great. What you can do is different. And what you can do it on is different. So you’ll have to have a plan that works around that. But if the dream is to get there, then you make the plan that fits that. Both of these things for a couple 1000 bucks, you could be pretty set nicely, for a couple of 1000 bucks.

Mark Stephenson:

Or I mean, again, with budget, maybe as you listen to this podcast, you were inspired by opportunities, you didn’t realize that we’re out there. Let’s say that you are interested in this because you know a bunch of people that are screen printers, and they’re all making tons of money screen printing, so you’re looking to get into that business. And you heard that you can sell wholesale transfers with digital heat effects.

Mark Stephenson:

So now you’ve got an addition to your business plan of you were looking at sublimation, or you were looking at DTG. Now you’ve got this additional idea where I can do wholesale. Maybe that adds budget to the picture.

Marc Vila:

Yes. And if a whole bunch of screen printers, it’s probably a good idea to get into some sort of wholesale transfer business to them, because there’s opportunity for you. That’s why I think budget comes to the end, is because it’s important to understand all of this stuff. And one can say, “Listen, I know I’m broke from the beginning. Can’t you just tell me what I can do for 1000 bucks?” Sure, but I think I like the idea of starting with the plan and the dream, and what you really want to do, and the idea that you have, because that is a higher level goal. And just because you don’t have the money to do it, or the means or somebody to borrow from to do that now, doesn’t mean that you don’t achieve this goal through another means.

Marc Vila:

By saying, “Okay, well, I’ll start with the sublimation. And I can do a lot of that stuff, just on the dark, light colored garments, though. And then when I get to the point in time, I’m going to step up, and I’ll get the white toner printer or the DTG, or whatever it is to be able to do the dark colors too.”

Mark Stephenson:

Yeah, I mean, we’ve spent a long time talking about each one of these technologies and being as objective as we can. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. But I mean, really the best way to work this through and figure out which technology is right for you, it’s just a hop on the phone with somebody that knows. If you call ColDesi, or you talk to your account rep with Coleman and Company, they’ll help you figure this stuff out. They’ll map it out with you say, “Okay I want to do this, and I think I’ve got this much money to spend, and I’m going to sell online only. And this is my niche and things like that.”

Mark Stephenson:

And they’ll go, “Okay, it sounds like the best thing for you is going to be this, here’s why I think so. Or it might be these two things; maybe you’re better off with a sublimation printer and a cutter than you are with the digital heat effects I560. Or maybe you’re better off with a DTG printer, and just pump $25 worth of profit in every shirt for the first eight months. And then add the sublimation printer afterwards so you can do more promotional products.” There’s a lot of different ways to go. And remember too, that this is not one decision that you’re making. Let me say that, it’s not the last decision that you’re going to make.

Mark Stephenson:

We have very few customers that buy an embroidery machine from us and they just do embroidery. Or they buy a cutter from us, and they just do that. They might do that for a while, but we sell tons of machine. The second machine is our favorite sale, because it means that you’re doing a lot and you’re seeing opportunities. And you’re growing your business in those different directions.

Marc Vila:

Yeah, and starting with the plan is one of the most important things to grow to that second machine, to do more options for more people, to be able to sell to your customers more things. I mean, so it’s a wonderful thing. But now that we’ve gone through this, I really think if you’re thinking about investing in something else for your business, this is a great opportunity to understand how to evaluate them. And I think you’ll also appreciate somebody saying, you don’t want a cutter. “You don’t want a cutter, don’t do that for your business.” Because in your head, you’re saying, “Well yeah, but I wanted to make jerseys for high school football team because I know somebody.”

Marc Vila:

What other technology are you going to take a mesh shirt and put something that can be tackled on besides the cutter technology? I mean, it’s made for that. So for them to tell you it’s a bad idea, they don’t know what you know, which is your plan and your business. So that’s why it’s really important to have the plan first, know where you want to go. And then make sure if you want to ask opinions of people out there… But opinions are like something, everybody’s got one. Isn’t that a saying?

Mark Stephenson:

Something, yeah. If you want to ask opinions, my least favorite question on any of the Facebook groups. What’s your favorite way to do this? What’s your this…

Marc Vila:

No, the fact that all of these technologies have thousands of people across the world doing them, making money, means that they’re all good.

Mark Stephenson:

They all work.

Marc Vila:

They all work, they’re all good. None of them-

Mark Stephenson:

You can make money with any of them.

Marc Vila:

Yes, yes, plenty of people suck. But all the technologies are good and cool in their own ways. Finding the right one for you and your business is the most important thing. And the person who is not happy with the equipment they chose, maybe prematurely chose a piece of technology that wasn’t right for their business plan. And I think that’s the best thing to learn.

Mark Stephenson:

That’s the nicest way to put it.

Marc Vila:

That’s a nice way to put it. But it’s true. We’ve talked to people who didn’t like their DTG experience, but they bought it to do black polyester shirts. And maybe that’s not like an actual real example. It might be, but I mean, that would be an example where I would say, “Well, that doesn’t do that.” No wonder you’re so unhappy with your Prius because you bought it to travel 100 miles with a two tons worth of stuff. No wonder you hate your Prius. You hate your dually truck, because you’re an Uber driver. And you get two miles to the gallon. You don’t make any money.

Mark Stephenson:

I’m fascinated. I’m going on Uber as soon as we stop this to see if I can find somebody with a dually driving around.

Marc Vila:

One time a friend of mine got into a two passenger pickup truck with just a fan blowing out their face in the middle of the summer.

Mark Stephenson:

Nice.

Marc Vila:

In Florida summer, by the way-

Mark Stephenson:

That’s great.

Marc Vila:

… which is the hottest place around.

Mark Stephenson:

I think that’s a good story to end on.

Marc Vila:

That was good. So this was a long one. Hopefully, it was a lot of good information. We packed a lot into one episode. So maybe we’re going to talk more about these in the future, maybe even on the individual podcast to dive deeper.

Mark Stephenson:

Yep, sounds good. All right, everybody. As usual, thanks for listening to the Custom Apparel Startups Podcast. Share it with a friend and listen to the next one.

Mark Stephenson:

This has been Mark Stephenson from ColDesi.

Marc Vila:

And Marc Vila from ColDesi featuring colemanandcompany.com as your source for supplies, apparel, blanks, et cetera. Check it out.

Mark Stephenson:

Nice. Have a great business.

 

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