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Overall cost per transfer question


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Hello all, I just found this forum and have been interested in the DTF for a little bit now. The question I have really is we do sublimation and vinyl for shirts and so on.  I like this idea of the DTF because the starting up costs seem to be much cheaper then DTG. 

If I was to invest into the DTF printing for my shirts, what would one think a cost per transfer come out to? I have read that yes the film itself is a big cost ($1.00) but with the ink and powder, what does one think that price is?

The biggest reason I'm asking is because we sell vinyl shirts for a company for $15.00 and they turn around and sell for $20-25.  To do these shirts takes me a while because of all there colors needed and weeding of the vinyl it self.

If I can still turn a profit and lower my time, I think i can jump on this band wagon. Any thoughts will be helpful

-Mike

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Hello,

Andy, I just wanted to ask.....  which transfer PET films do you sell.  I have noticed in DTF videos when some films when they are peeled from the garment you can clearly see the printout  of the design still on the sheet while on others there’s no print.

Does it make a difference which sheet is used in terms of feel and softness on the shirt?

 

RJ

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5 hours ago, NWD253 said:

Hello all, I just found this forum and have been interested in the DTF for a little bit now. The question I have really is we do sublimation and vinyl for shirts and so on.  I like this idea of the DTF because the starting up costs seem to be much cheaper then DTG. 

If I was to invest into the DTF printing for my shirts, what would one think a cost per transfer come out to? I have read that yes the film itself is a big cost ($1.00) but with the ink and powder, what does one think that price is?

The biggest reason I'm asking is because we sell vinyl shirts for a company for $15.00 and they turn around and sell for $20-25.  To do these shirts takes me a while because of all there colors needed and weeding of the vinyl it self.

If I can still turn a profit and lower my time, I think i can jump on this band wagon. Any thoughts will be helpful

-Mike

At current, It's $1.25 a sheet ( 12x16 print area roughly). I've noticed it doesn't use as much ink as DTG. it will depend on the design size. 

From what I have purchased and used, it's around $1 for a 12x12 sheet of HTV, at its cheapest without buying in bulk, not saying that is top end stuff either. The cost would be slightly more, plus upkeep and ink waste. If your doing multiple layers of Vinyl, I'd consider it easily price matched. I would also consider in the waste associated with the excess vinyl. The powders go a long way, almost to the point where it's hard to calculate it at a cost. Factor in cutting and weeding, I personally would say it would be cheaper for sure, depending on what your time is worth. The way I see it, If your making money, your making money. The plus side, which I don't see in your original post, You will be able to print anything, like images not just layered vinyl. The downside, would be the lack of anything other than CMYK ( glitter, gold, silver, etc). 

 

I know I went from screen-printing, where I made my own screen for $2-$3, and made over 1,000 prints on it using around $70 in ink before tossing the screen. 1,000 X $15= $15,000 from $72 plus fabrics to DTG. DTG isn't even comparable in costs, sometimes up to $2 a print, plus fabric and waste/maintenance.  It's more expensive, BUT it works for me. I can also still screen-print the larger orders. My point is, Comparing apples to oranges on the price point is hard to do without weighing the pro's and con's of each. Although I chose the expensive method for myself, It has made my life much easier. 

 

Don't forget the learning curve though :)

Edited by johnson4
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Thank you all for the input. Doing the vinyl stuff for me is a wash in money made, for the most part it's in my free time and when I don't need to do much around the house lol.

I do want to make a better product and if I can do that quickly, maybe I will start making money at this.

Next thing is to look into the software that you all are using and understand some of the settings when printing.

 

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11 hours ago, NWD253 said:

Thank you all for the input. Doing the vinyl stuff for me is a wash in money made, for the most part it's in my free time and when I don't need to do much around the house lol.

I do want to make a better product and if I can do that quickly, maybe I will start making money at this.

Next thing is to look into the software that you all are using and understand some of the settings when printing.

 

Everyone is using DTG RIP software

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Is there anything special about the film? I keep seeing them referred to as PET film. If that's the case, could you not use the widely available PET Inkjet Transparencies? Or is this another case of people using names incorrectly like plastisol transfers, etc?

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4 hours ago, C_Coffie said:

Is there anything special about the film? I keep seeing them referred to as PET film. If that's the case, could you not use the widely available PET Inkjet Transparencies? Or is this another case of people using names incorrectly like plastisol transfers, etc?

Hi, let me start with, I've been in the game for about 6 years now in total. I have used basically every method available, and tried everything since. From the photo's, this film absolutely looks just like film that I have used before, and still had some of. But it's not. 

my findings from the years of " trial and error' and " trying to be cost efficient" I have learned a few things about exactly what you have asked. I have also learned, how much money I can waste and I can see how much hair I have pulled out trying to save money.

In the end, each process out there has slight modifications done to it to work properly, while some may work, it's not worth the hassle to do 80 percent as good, for 80 percent of the cost. A perfect example is this film. The coating on this film, reacts to heat, and provides a release method for the ink, However, it also absorbs the carrier from the ink. Will this carrier be the exact same formula as the previous generation of similar products? Probably not. The ink is NOT the same as DTG ink, although it may look like it I can attest that it is not. The way it dries, the weight, and even it's water Resistance after it has cured( not even cured, just dried). Things I have tested in the last 2-3 days...

*The ink doesn't respond the same way to air, so it's less likely to air dry

*The ink carrier absorbs into porous material after a bit of time ( like thick paper) unlike DTG inks. What is left behind reminds me of ( looks exactly like) plastisol ink left on something that has since had it's carrier removed( like leaving it on a screen for a week, kind of like an oily substance around the ink, leaving the ink hardened since the carrier was wicked away since it doesn't air dry)

*The cure time is less than my DTG ink.  this stuff dries very quickly once a heat source is applied, Exactly like the difference in waterbased VS plastisol Screen printing.

*Once printing on the film, you can see a clear difference. DTG inks carry a A LARGE amount of carrier, which bubbles off the film because it cannot absorb it. The DTF ink seems to create a thin layer without as much carrier, as if it's more dense, and again, like plastisol, It's not runny.

I think the most shocking thing to me was the way the print felt. I have screen printed plastisol transfers, ( no it doesn't work, it doesn't have the coating to absorb the carrier from the ink) and printed directly for years. I cure them on a heat press, mainly due to the quality difference I get. It's smooth, not rubbery, almost like a thick waterbased ink print. Heat pressed Plastisol is about the softest thing I have ever printed, until now. This stuff feels like an UPGRADED version of a plastisol print. Probably where it gets it's name. 

Once I applied the DTF transfer, peeled that film from the shirt, pressed it again ( I always double press everything) and felt that print- It was amazing. I know I sound stupid, but when you have a passion for this stuff and have been doing it for years, that " Hand" really means something to you. Anyway, It is the softest print I have ever touched, not like a non-existent feel, but a very smooth, yet flexible/comfortable feel. It stretched VERY well, washed very well, and overall is one of the best methods( I'm not going to say IT IS the best method until I've used it for awhile)  I have ever used in the transfer side of options. 

For the PET film, PET is going to be one of the best, most reliable things for any heat pressed type of thing. Look at HTV, Looks like PET to me, but I know it won't work. It's just the material of choice for the temperature range and providing a good release. 

 

If your thinking about using transfer powders for typical plastisol transfers, Don't. It's a nightmare. Like I previously stated, it's the same, but modified for it's use. The powder provided by Andy was course, like tiny grains of salt. Transfer powder for Screenprinting, is like flour. That sheet you just printed on? It absorbs that carrier. That powder? It sticks to moisture. What you get, is a HUGE mess if you use a fine powder( Just in case, Basically the sheet absorbs the carrier, the longer it sits without being powdered and cured, the larger this area that it will stick to becomes). It's possible a COURSE powder may work with it( Screen-printing powder), But I'd rather support the guy who made it happen over here, for the exact same price, without pulling out my hair. 

 

Basically, What I'm saying is, What is wrong with the current price of things? Is it worth pulling your hair out, spending late nights trying to justify purchasing something that "MIGHT" work? To me, The cost is what it is, and it's on par with DTG costs. As a previous post mentioned, I chose the more expensive route to sell my products. I actually make the same amount of money Vs screen printing though, so it equals out in the long run.

 

I for one wanted it to be the same, Because I have an entire 800 SQ FT building filled with failed crap from the past ( that included several types of this PET film). 

This is one thing That WILL NOT make it out there.

Edited by johnson4
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2 hours ago, photojim said:

Johnson 4 do you want to trade. I was one of the first one hour labs in the country. When I opened my doors in 1980 I owed over 350,000 with an intrest rate of 17% 

That’s really cool! 
 

I bet that was an awesome experience. At the end of the day I wouldn’t trade any of it though, it has given me experience irregardless of the cost. It’s just a notation on “ been there done that” type of thing trying to be cheap, find cheaper suppliers, make my own stuff etc. while it works for most things, some things just are wasted money and time in this type of field, ultimately making it cost more than it should have. personally I don’t have the “ guts” to put myself in debt for the business ( potentially making for a huge profit) . If I can’t pay for it with profits, I don’t pay for it. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...
On 10/19/2020 at 10:19 PM, johnson4 said:

Hi, let me start with, I've been in the game for about 6 years now in total. I have used basically every method available, and tried everything since. From the photo's, this film absolutely looks just like film that I have used before, and still had some of. But it's not. 

my findings from the years of " trial and error' and " trying to be cost efficient" I have learned a few things about exactly what you have asked. I have also learned, how much money I can waste and I can see how much hair I have pulled out trying to save money.

In the end, each process out there has slight modifications done to it to work properly, while some may work, it's not worth the hassle to do 80 percent as good, for 80 percent of the cost. A perfect example is this film. The coating on this film, reacts to heat, and provides a release method for the ink, However, it also absorbs the carrier from the ink. Will this carrier be the exact same formula as the previous generation of similar products? Probably not. The ink is NOT the same as DTG ink, although it may look like it I can attest that it is not. The way it dries, the weight, and even it's water Resistance after it has cured( not even cured, just dried). Things I have tested in the last 2-3 days...

*The ink doesn't respond the same way to air, so it's less likely to air dry

*The ink carrier absorbs into porous material after a bit of time ( like thick paper) unlike DTG inks. What is left behind reminds me of ( looks exactly like) plastisol ink left on something that has since had it's carrier removed( like leaving it on a screen for a week, kind of like an oily substance around the ink, leaving the ink hardened since the carrier was wicked away since it doesn't air dry)

*The cure time is less than my DTG ink.  this stuff dries very quickly once a heat source is applied, Exactly like the difference in waterbased VS plastisol Screen printing.

*Once printing on the film, you can see a clear difference. DTG inks carry a A LARGE amount of carrier, which bubbles off the film because it cannot absorb it. The DTF ink seems to create a thin layer without as much carrier, as if it's more dense, and again, like plastisol, It's not runny.

I think the most shocking thing to me was the way the print felt. I have screen printed plastisol transfers, ( no it doesn't work, it doesn't have the coating to absorb the carrier from the ink) and printed directly for years. I cure them on a heat press, mainly due to the quality difference I get. It's smooth, not rubbery, almost like a thick waterbased ink print. Heat pressed Plastisol is about the softest thing I have ever printed, until now. This stuff feels like an UPGRADED version of a plastisol print. Probably where it gets it's name. 

Once I applied the DTF transfer, peeled that film from the shirt, pressed it again ( I always double press everything) and felt that print- It was amazing. I know I sound stupid, but when you have a passion for this stuff and have been doing it for years, that " Hand" really means something to you. Anyway, It is the softest print I have ever touched, not like a non-existent feel, but a very smooth, yet flexible/comfortable feel. It stretched VERY well, washed very well, and overall is one of the best methods( I'm not going to say IT IS the best method until I've used it for awhile)  I have ever used in the transfer side of options. 

For the PET film, PET is going to be one of the best, most reliable things for any heat pressed type of thing. Look at HTV, Looks like PET to me, but I know it won't work. It's just the material of choice for the temperature range and providing a good release. 

 

If your thinking about using transfer powders for typical plastisol transfers, Don't. It's a nightmare. Like I previously stated, it's the same, but modified for it's use. The powder provided by Andy was course, like tiny grains of salt. Transfer powder for Screenprinting, is like flour. That sheet you just printed on? It absorbs that carrier. That powder? It sticks to moisture. What you get, is a HUGE mess if you use a fine powder( Just in case, Basically the sheet absorbs the carrier, the longer it sits without being powdered and cured, the larger this area that it will stick to becomes). It's possible a COURSE powder may work with it( Screen-printing powder), But I'd rather support the guy who made it happen over here, for the exact same price, without pulling out my hair. 

 

Basically, What I'm saying is, What is wrong with the current price of things? Is it worth pulling your hair out, spending late nights trying to justify purchasing something that "MIGHT" work? To me, The cost is what it is, and it's on par with DTG costs. As a previous post mentioned, I chose the more expensive route to sell my products. I actually make the same amount of money Vs screen printing though, so it equals out in the long run.

 

I for one wanted it to be the same, Because I have an entire 800 SQ FT building filled with failed crap from the past ( that included several types of this PET film). 

This is one thing That WILL NOT make it out there.

Good read I do too struggles with price and quality but I usually go with quality it's not worth pulling your hair and second guessing just to save 50cent or a dollar. Plus the merch speak for itself when you use high quality material.

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3 hours ago, ALO apparel said:

Good read I do too struggles with price and quality but I usually go with quality it's not worth pulling your hair and second guessing just to save 50cent or a dollar. Plus the merch speak for itself when you use high quality material.

Absolutely and thank you. And since this post, I have found some pretty interesting information. Buying from Andy, for example, It costs less than $0.60 for a 13x12 inch transfer, your looking at $.46 in film from Andy's roll. The ink costs, I use 60ML per 35 transfers, or 1.72ML per print. Not 100% coverage, but in general a good idea. For white, the most expensive, your looking at .067 cents in ink per print. So far, We are at .46+.07, or $0.53 cents a transfer. Add the powder, Which I seem to be using about a pound per roll of film, or 320ish transfers, again 0.06 cents. Now, I'm being very conservative on this, since I don't use a full pound, or exactly 60ML of ink, I'm rounding up a bit.  My designs/prints are not " solid" giant boxes, so if you print those, it'll cost you a bit more. But, The figure would be correct within 0.20 cents no matter how much ink the design uses for that size.

So overall, purchasing this stuff from Andy, I'm looking at $0.59 cents a 13x12 transfer. A comparable DTG print, My programs said over $1.50 using Dupont ink, sometimes hitting over the $2 mark per print and firebird pre-treatment( bulk price, I.E by the liter for ink, and by the 5 gallon for pre-treatment). 

 

Now, for me, DTG will waste much more ink, but it's a different scenario since I'm using a printer that removes the ink system for DTF, since it uses so little ink so I don't have to deal with ink settling in the lines. 

Overall, I don't see a reason for anyone to be trying to make it cheaper than $0.60 cents a print that large, if your doing CMYK/White full color images, add another 4 cents per print in ink. Every other supplier I have found, charges quite a bit more than DTFSuperstore.com, making that number much higher. The only thing I could see someone saving a few bucks, would be the film. Even then, it's not worth the hassles of running into bum/different film since they all seem to have variants that require ink setting changes.

For example The rolls I ordered from China, 1 worked perfect, the other 4 all had a serious issue and wasn't usable which stopped me in the water putting my orders behind. All to save $30 per roll, or $0.09 cents per print. I ended up losing quite a bit of money, with refunds, and of course the loss of the cost of the bad film. Mind you, this film was " identical" and you could not tell a difference until you started printing, so factor in the wasted ink/powder/time. 

Andy's film worked great, and I asked if these issues occur within his product. He said it hasn't happened, but if it does, he would be more than happy to exchange the defective product. I believe him, and have been a good customer here for over 3 years I believe is how long it has been ( I'm not the best at keeping track of time). 

 

Overall, for roughly 60 cents above the cost of your garment, you can have a full size print, ready to apply to any garment, without setup, screens, or any real amount of work. The quality is great, if you do it right. The white only prints turn out ALOT better than DTG. for black only designs, DTG has it beat still, since it will have no hand feel at all with DTG. 

I'm a cheap person in general, not " get what you pay for" type of person, more of a " get the best deal" type of person. I vouch for the process 100%, and for Andy's products, if that means anything to anyone.

,

 

 

Edited by johnson4
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  • 1 month later...
On 10/23/2020 at 9:59 PM, johnson4 said:

That’s really cool! 
 

I bet that was an awesome experience. At the end of the day I wouldn’t trade any of it though, it has given me experience irregardless of the cost. It’s just a notation on “ been there done that” type of thing trying to be cheap, find cheaper suppliers, make my own stuff etc. while it works for most things, some things just are wasted money and time in this type of field, ultimately making it cost more than it should have. personally I don’t have the “ guts” to put myself in debt for the business ( potentially making for a huge profit) . If I can’t pay for it with profits, I don’t pay for it. 

Hello!  What machine do you use for the screen print transfer?  I have been buying transfers already made but just purchased a DTF printer and waiting on it to come in.  Not sure of the difference between the two transfers.

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3 hours ago, Roxy said:

Hello!  What machine do you use for the screen print transfer?  I have been buying transfers already made but just purchased a DTF printer and waiting on it to come in.  Not sure of the difference between the two transfers.

Any the available DTF printers will yield you with the same cost( aside from machine cost), given you purchase your supplies from DTFsuperstore.com, That's where I purchased mine from, And that number is actually a little high for me since I roll print now instead of sheet printing. 

So Far I have tried these models of DTF printers:

Epson P800

Epson XP-15000

Epson P400

 

I did make and use plastisol transfers at one point, but honestly it was just a PITA and wasn't up to my standards, especially compared to DTF. my only real complaint about DTF is the film waste, It's PET film, which is recyclable, but I don't have that locally. 

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1 hour ago, Inf9design said:

johnson4, so if you were to recommend a first printer for DTF, which one would you choose?

The Epson p400. 
 

it’s the easiest to set up and use, easiest to maintain. While it does have small cartridges, (30-35 prints per set for full color and white prints), it’s easy to swap them with another prefilled set, do a head clean and be good. No ink settling, dampers or ink systems to mess around with. 
 

making it chipless is straight forward and works great, supports roll printing. The main thing is how easy it is to clean, and avoiding white ink settling/ clogging. New users struggle with that the most. If you want it to sit for days, or a week, or 5, doesn’t matter. Load cleaning carts, do two-three head cleans, wipe off the wiper/cap, done. Indefinite sitting time. 
 

If your printing hundreds a day, then the p600/p800, since their downfall is ink settling in the ink system. they both support 80ML cartridges. BUT if your printing that much daily, then it won’t be an issue with settling/clogging, without the annoyance of swapping carts every two hours of roll printing. If your sheet printing, then your probably low volume and should stick with a printer that can handle sitting around or not printing much, as the p400 can do. 
 

try to use the p600/p800, with low volume like the p400 is good for, you’ll run into those issues. Flushing the lines on these are no easy task and it’s a ton of wasting ink and cleaner every time you do it, not to mention the hours of time and eventual settling that causes white ink clogs ( unless you print daily, and I mean like 10 pages not just one page). 

Edited by johnson4
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  • 9 months later...

Absolutely and thank you. And since this post, I have found some pretty interesting information. Buying from Andy, for example, It costs less than $0.60 for a 13x12 inch transfer, your looking at $.46 in film from Andy's roll. 
How do I get in contact with Andy. I am not ready to jump into the river and spend $18,000.00 for a DTF setup, but I do want to start offering this service to my clients.
I need to find someone who has good service. I currently am using someone in California. Her products are good. Her price is good, but her service is slow. It takes almost two weeks to get a transfer. My current clients are used to getting 4 to 5 day service at the very most. I can be reached at jarthurdavis#jarthurdavisconsulting.com Thanks

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4 hours ago, J Arthur Davis said:

Absolutely and thank you. And since this post, I have found some pretty interesting information. Buying from Andy, for example, It costs less than $0.60 for a 13x12 inch transfer, your looking at $.46 in film from Andy's roll. 
How do I get in contact with Andy. I am not ready to jump into the river and spend $18,000.00 for a DTF setup, but I do want to start offering this service to my clients.
I need to find someone who has good service. I currently am using someone in California. Her products are good. Her price is good, but her service is slow. It takes almost two weeks to get a transfer. My current clients are used to getting 4 to 5 day service at the very most. I can be reached at jarthurdavis#jarthurdavisconsulting.com Thanks

Andy doesn’t sell transfers, but you could just ask around for samples from providers near you. 
 

while at cost to you might spend $.60 per transfer for supplies, you need to account for the printer cost, maintenance waste ink and film, as well as a few other things, including the price for the printer, time and electricity and shipping, and of course the $3,000 printhead replacement people haven to do every 6 months or so. 
 

me personally, I feel like $3-$3.50 is a good price for low volume 12x12 transfers. This is my price range. 

For 13”X300FT I feel like I’d expect to pay $600 for the roll printed end to end plus shipping, or $2 a sq ft plus actual shipping costs. This is where I would be at anyway selling in bulk, unless several rolls were ordered at a time, but that cost wouldn’t drop significantly, maybe $0.25-$0.50 a sq ft. 
 

This comes out to about 25 hours of printing per 300 ft roll, on the fastest Epson conversion. Or about 20 hours on a dual head 13” Chinese printer, or 10 hours on a 24” dual head printer( on 24” film, making it 11.5” max width X2 side by side plus cutting) , maybe 5 hours on the 4 head printers. 
 

total cost to the printer would vary, but be around $130 for the film, $50-$60 in ink, and $30-$40 in powder, plus the time, which is $220-$240 total supplies cost per 13” roll printed. Add in 35 percent for taxes and fees, and all the other above costs I mentioned. That’s $370 per roll, take out 35 percent for state and federal taxes, or $130 which you are left with $240 or so if buyer pays for shipping plus the time based on your printer. 
 

$230 profit per 5-25 hours of printing, plus paying off your initial investment of anywhere from $2,000-$35,000 for the printer and shaker and interest if any, it’s about as low as you are going to get, even printing it yourself. 



Getting to $2 per sq ft in bulk, plus having good ICC profiles( which is another $3,000 machine) and good turnaround times, reliability ( extra parts lying around) etc- it gets rough and a challenge to offer these low prices and also be a reliable, quality printer. 
 

so anything less than $3.50 a sq ft low volume, or less than $2-$2.50 a sq ft high volume, it’s going to end up actually costing more. 
 

anything over $5 a sq ft is just a plain out rip off, regardless of the machines they run, in my opinion. 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Id be more interested at a start to buy the print and try it before investing in high cost equipment. Paying round $3 to $4 per print would make it viable for a start up to try things out.

John

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3 hours ago, John boo said:

Id be more interested at a start to buy the print and try it before investing in high cost equipment. Paying round $3 to $4 per print would make it viable for a start up to try things out.

John

Yea. I mean it’s highly profitable, it’s well worth it. I don’t care what people say, if you know what you are doing a basic supported Epson printer can bring you in several thousand a month. A couple of them could break 10k a month in transfers. It’s all about what your willing to learn and how fast. 

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