That’s an easy answer – it depends! There are many decisions you’ll make in setting up and running your business that will affect the cost. It’s not just running your new t shirt printing machine from ColDesi, or which one you choose, it’s also about the end product.
Here’s what you will need to know:
• How much do your blank shirts cost?
• How big or small are your designs?
• Will you be printing on dark or colored t-shirts or just on white?
• How many shirts/hour can your shop produce?
Let’s review each topic using our own experience to help you fill in the blanks, with the understanding that prices may vary in your area.
Depending on quality, quantity and the brand you choose, there’s a VERY large difference in pricing.
For example, if you buy hundreds of blank, large, men’s white t-shirts, you may get them as cheap as $1.25 each. If you buy 50 women’s medium white t-shirts with cap sleeves from a major brand, you may be at $4 or $6 each.
We’re going to use a specific, high quality shirt that prints beautifully. ColDesi sample shirts are printed on the District Perfect Weight Tee (DT104) from Colman and Company. It’s 100% ring spun cotton, 3.4 oz and is just perfect for DTG printing. You CAN choose shirts as low as $2.00 each, but this is the one we use every day.
Blank Premium T-Shirt Cost: $4.78
And here is a lower cost option: Blank Mid-Quality Tee: $3.07 (Model PC450)
Black t-shirts, and other dark colors, are generally a little more expensive to buy and to print on but are also extremely popular in the retail marketplace. Just look around as you go about your day and come to your own conclusion about what the most popular colors are.
The size of your designs has 2 big effects on your costs; the time they take to print and the amount of ink you use.
If your market niche demands the largest, most colorful image possible, your labor/production times will be affected because it takes longer to print. An 10″ x 10″ graphic might take 1 or 2 minutes to print, while a 16″ x 20″ may take twice as long.
[That same print on a white garment, because it doesn’t need white ink, will take about ½ those times.]
Your cost of goods will be impacted by the amount of ink. Your selling price will go up when you charge for larger prints too.
On the other hand, if you get a large job for a company that just wants a logo on the chest of their company’s shirts, your t shirt printing machine will output shirts faster than you can take them off the DTG printer!
The most common size shirt front design for a custom t shirt is going to approximately 10” x 10”, so that’s what we’ll use for our calculations.
The cost of the shirt is one part of the equation, but in direct to garment printing whether you print on a light colored or dark colored shirt makes a big difference.
The way a direct to garment t shirt printer prints on dark shirts is by creating a white ink “underbase”. That means that is puts a base of white ink on top of the dark shirt, so the colors of your design look great.
Without the white, if you put yellow ink on a green shirt, for example, you would end up with an orange looking design.
Printing on dark shirts takes longer because you’re printing an extra color, and it costs more for the extra ink.
Light t shirts are sometimes less popular, but even MORE profitable than black. They usually sell for the same price, but they cost less to print – and they print faster.
Both the sale price and your costs are heavily influenced by the quantity of shirts that are ordered. Our research shows that most startups and many, many entrepreneurs that sell in their own areas typical order is 12 shirts.
Note: Our calculations are gross profit and do not include your labor, overhead, taxes, etc. Only sale price minus shirt cost minus ink costs.
Pricing: We surveyed an industry group of Custom T Shirt business professionals to get a sale price for an order of 12 of our specific ColDesi Heart design on that specific model black shirt:
Recommended sale price was $20/shirt, though there were some as low as $13.50 and as high as $25.
Costs: That premium quality shirt we mention on this page + ink will add up to about $6.00 for the finished shirt.
So, at a sale price of $20.00 you’re looking at about $14.00 per shirt in Gross Profit.
Let’s take the sample numbers above and find our MONTHLY break even point for standard financing AND how many shirts you would have to sell to pay for the machine itself if you did not finance.
ColDesi DTG Heart on a Premium quality T-Shirt. Please note that we are rounding numbers slightly and not including overhead and labor costs. (labor cost estimate is $.50-.75 per shirt depending on where you are)
Sale Price each:
$20.00 – Shirt Cost $4.78 – Ink Cost $.84 – Pretreatment Cost $.35 =
Profit per shirt each: $14.00
The G4 Basic bundle sells for around $20,000 and finances for $433/month including tax
So here’s how you would figure out your monthly breakeven:
Finance Payment =
$433/month* (with approved credit, conditions apply)
Profit per shirt = $14.00
Payment $433/ Profit $14 =
If you are not financing the Basic Bundle you would need to sell:
Sale Price $20,000/ Profit $14 =
ColDesi customers responded to a survey that asked the following question:
How many shirts per month did you sell during your “startup” period?
If you need to sell 1,429 shirts to pay off your machine that is 4.76 months using all the numbers we’ve laid out so far.
So in five or 6 months you would make back the money you invested! That’s amazing ROI.
Of course, all of this math is very basic and doesn’t include rent, power, mistakes you’ll make and general business expenses.
Or you may decide on the G4 Plus or Pro bundles instead of the Standard.
But it also assumes a few things that make the numbers look worse. Like using a premium shirt and only charging $20.00 per finished product.
A large percentage of our survey respondents indicated they charge $25.00 per shirt or more.
Your designs may include less ink, or they could have twice the coverage.
But at 31 shirts per month or a 6 month payoff – your business will have plenty of room for profits.