Uninet iColor 550 vs Direct-to-Garment Printers
Barriers to Entry
Initial Purchase Cost
The Uninet iColor 550 is priced at $3,649.00 and thus offers customers a reasonable point of entry into the market. Considering the price of the equipment, it’s capability of printing full color with both underprints and overprints is an impressive feature.
Reliable and high quality direct-to-garment printers will be priced above $10,000. While there are more affordable dtg machines available in the market, they are not reliable enough to run a business. Customers should be weary of purchasing a direct-to-garment printer that is priced below $10,000.
When comparing the two types of printers, the Uninet offers a more affordable point of entry than a quality dtg printer.
Mastering the transfer process on the iColor 550 is undoubtedly the greatest challenge for users. Successfully transferring the image from the printer to the final product is a challenging process that requires careful attention to detail. In order to transfer the image onto the final product, it must first be printed onto “sheet A” then transferred onto the adhere “sheet B.” Once the image is on “sheet B,” it can be transferred onto the final medium with a heating element. Uninet offers several instructional videos on their youtube channel such as this video that are easily accessible.
Learning how to print on a dtg machine is highly accessible. Once you have a pre-treated garment, you simply thread the shirt onto the printer’s platen and prompt your machine to print the image. After your image is printed, you can transfer that garment to cure the design to extend the wash life of the print. Since the learning curve for a dtg machine is so low, training others to help run your operation is simple and can allow you to capitalize your time.
Cost of Prints
The rip software on direct-to-garment printers allows customers to print at different qualities and levels. On average, a print on a dtg printer can range between $0.75-$3.00. All American offers customers a free trial of Kothari Print Pro for all dtg customers.
A print on the Uninet will cost you a minimum of $2 with the paper media alone in addition to the cost of toner. Since each print requires two transfer sheets, there is a set cost to print on the Uninet. The transfer paper begins at $2 per sheet and increases in price depending on the size, quality, and textures. You can explore the different sheet dimensions and costs here.
Direct-to-garment printers can print on various types of garments including t-shirts, sweaters, hats, face masks, socks, and more. With the proper pretreatment solution, you can get high-quality prints on cotton and polyester garments.
The Uninet iColor 550 has the capability of transferring images onto a wide range of surfaces including garments. However, the 550 can print on various hard surfaces such as ceramic, metals, and acrylic. In addition to the wide range of surfaces, there are multiple specialty toner upgrades available for purchase such as a dye sublimation kit, fluorescent kit, clear, and security toners.
The iColor 550 has little to no maintenance required. Since it is a toner based system, there is no liquid to clean and thus diminishes any clogging or drying. While there is little maintenance required, the maintenance kit for the Uninet will allow you to preserve the life of your printer.
Depending on the dtg printer that you purchase, you will need to conduct daily or weekly maintenance. However, most dtg printers have been upgraded to encase self-maintenance systems that minimize the time spent on maintenance overall.
Print Capabilities & Quality
The Uninet and (most) direct to garment printers are able to print on dark garments. The white underbase on dtg printers allow prints onto pre-treated dark garments with no issue. The Uninet also can print on dark garments with its white overprint ability.
Despite being able to complete the same functions, the final print quality of a garment on a iColor 550 cannot compete with a print on a dtg printer. A direct to garment printer not only produces higher quality prints but also provides a softer hand feel on the garment.
The color spectrum that the Uninet is capable of printing is greater than the dtg since it is capable of fluorescent colors and metallic with the optional toner packages and transfer sheets. While the proper pretreatment and rip software settings on a dtg machine can produce vibrant prints, Uninet’s metallic transfer papers and various toners allow the ability to print a wider range of colors onto the final medium.