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Is a Professional Garment Printer Profitable?

Professional garment printer MACHINES can be incredibly profitable tools for the right custom t-shirt business.

While it may seem like a big investment, the ROI or return on that investment is easy to see and calculate.  We’ll examine those numbers shortly.

But first, what IS a professional garment printer?

Custom T-Shirt Printing Machines for Pros

Direct to garment printing is the technology choice for most professional t-shirt shops.

The advantages to one of these specialized inkjet printers designed specifically for printing on fabric are pretty compelling:

No set up time or cost

Direct to garment or DTG printers are all digital. That means that you can go from a graphic file, either yours or a customer, to a finished t-shirt in minutes.

That’s as opposed to a screen printing or silk-screening method, which requires quite a bit of setup time and always has a “set-up charge” attached. You can read more about silk-screening on wiki.

Unlimited Colors

If you’ve ever brought a logo or image to get printed at a traditional garment printer’s shop, they’ve probably tried talking you DOWN on the number of colors.

That’s a sure sign that they’re either using screen printing or heat transfer vinyl to make your design. Every time you go from a 1 color to a 4 or 6 color design on either one of those methods it gets 4x or 6x more complicated.

With a professional garment printer machine like a DTG printer the number of colors is no object. Because it’s a digital ink jet printer, like a commercial version of your home color printer, you can print ANY design without worrying about the number of colors.

You don’t count the colors when you print a photo on your printer, do you?

Feathering and Fades

Sometimes called the “smoke effect”, professional inkjet t-shirt printers create amazing fades from one color to the next AND from a color to nothing.

What’s VERY simple for a digital inkjet printer is impossible or incredibly difficult with anything else.

If you look at the image below you’ll see a few great examples of this effect. It really shows up in any image with fur, smoke or a fade to nothing

How Much is a Professional Garment Printer?

Prices vary over time depending on supply, demand, and current market conditions, but you can plan on spending $20,000 to $25,000 for a complete professional garment printer package.

On the higher end, you can spend in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Kornit or Aeoon DTG Printer, but for a more common one like the DTG G4 that will be in the ballpark.

Other things you’ll need that may or may not be included in the average price are:

There’s a chance you may be able to write off a portion the initial cost on your taxes – check with a tax pro about that.

And there’s almost always financing available if you have the credit score for it. The good news with financing is that if you’re looking for BUSINESS financing the “pulling” of your credit normally doesn’t show up on future credit reports.

Financing rates probably fluctuate more than ANYTING in the equipment business, but right now you can probably finance a professional t-shirt printer set up, including heat press and supplies for about $525/month. [depending on your credit, length of the lease and terms]

Is a Garment Printer Profitable?

ColDesi did a survey of people in the custom t-shirt printing business, many of them using some type of professional garment printer, about how much they charged for a t-shirt.

The answers varied widely depending on market and location, but most of them were selling custom shirts for between $20 and $35 each.

It’s a shock to a lot of screen printers that a digital printer can get that much for a t-shirt. Because they may be selling a cheap $10 or $12 shirt. But consider the following differences:

Let’s do the simple math to profits here – if you want more detail examples you can find them in this article.

What is my Return on Investment?

If you buy a printer bundle for $25,000, you will have to sell 1,700 shirts to pay it off.

$15 profit per shirt X 1,700 shirts = $25,500 in gross profits.

That’s more than you paid for the printer.

(Of course, there are lots of other costs you’ll incur. Marketing, taxes, rent, electricity, etc. But we’re keeping it simple here.)

So if you sell 100 shirts per month you should have your initial investment recouped in about 17 months.

How about Cashflow?

For many startups, cashflow is much more important than the ROI above. ESPECIALLY when they’re financing.

Cashflow is a simple calculation:

What’s the difference between money coming in and money going out every month?

Even at a monthly payment of $525 as we estimated above, a professional garment printer cashflows VERY quickly!

The question for cashflow watchers is:

How many shirts do I need to sell to make my financing/leasing payment?

Payment: $525

Profit per Shirt: $15.00

$525/$15 = 35

That means that when you sell 35 shirts you’ve made your payment… and you start really making $15 each with shirt #36.

In this case, if you are selling 100 shirts per month at $15 profit per shirt, you’ll be putting $975 in gross profit in your bank account at the end of the month!

What if you sell 200? Or 400 shirts? You should do that math!

Making A Decision

All of the numbers we used here are estimates. But the potential profits are clear nonetheless. Professional garment printers – both the machines and the businesses – can be incredibly profitable! If you’d like to learn more or get current prices and payment information just chat with someone below or click below to make a request.

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