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After spending years using other dtg printers I am happy to be using the brother gt381. This printer is truly amazing. Right away you can tell the difference. This printer is built like a tank. Below I will give you some knowledge about this printer.
Ink Prices are expensive as they get. I guess this is not considered a downfall. White ink for this machine cost around $600 for the 4 white ink cartridges and $800 for the CMYK. The CMYK seems to last a while but the white ink goes through this machine like water regardless if you are using it or not. We will discuss more about this under maintenance. In comparison, The Brother DTG Ink cartridges are 380cc. Dupont Ink cartridges 220cc. Cyan Dupont ink bag cost $35. Brothers Cyan cost $195. As you can see there is a huge difference.
Print quality is amazing. This printer has 8 print heads. With it having 4 white print heads it allows some of the other print heads to not fire 100% and you will still get a great white under base. Now if one of the CMYK is not getting 100% your prints may not look as good when printing in 600 dpi. Overall the inks produce nice bright reds and other colors it seemed impossible to get while using our other Epson based machines. With the Brother dtg printer, you only need to cure the ink for 35s but we do it for 45s. This cure time includes white under base prints. Compared to other printers that we have used Dupont inks take 180s to cure anything printed with white under base.
This printer is pretty fast. I am not sure how many shirts it can print in a perfect world because we pretreat our shirts and heat press them before printing. I say for 50 white shirts it has taken me 2 hours. If all the shirts were already pretreated and pressed it might be able to cut that time in half. For a typical 10x12 image it takes around 1 minute and 15 seconds without a white under base.
The brother printer now comes with GTX Graphics Lab. The software interface looks cool and is easy to use but It is missing a few options. There should be something to turn up ink density. When you are printing white shirts you almost need to do a double pass to get a high-quality print. The program comes already with the ink volume maxed out. That is not good. There needs to be more user control.
This printer is built like an industrial piece of equipment so you can expect it to last. As others have said it's like a tank. You will not be able to fit it through normal size door for those that run an at home business. You will need to either take the door off the hinges along with removing the back part of the printer. This printer is over 240 lbs. So the average person will need help lifting it. The internal components are all heavy duty. You can print with this machine 24hrs a day. Our other dtg printers would want to slow down after 20 prints. This is definitely one of the most durable printers I have seen. No issues with it at all since we have had ours.
This Printer requires an ink flush every 18 hours if you are not using the white ink. It also requires a weekly ink flush. As you can tell you are wasting a lot of white ink. That equals money down the drain. You can save on wasted ink if you run the printer 24/7. The more you use the printer the less ink you will waste. There are also maintenance kits that are required. There is a wiper cleaner that you will need along with a fan filter and a waste ink pad. This kit cost about $60 to replace at least once or twice a month. You will also need to clean the bottom of the print heads and around the capping station along with the wiper blades. So yes maintenance on this machine is expensive and not for a normal home business that is hoping to get a few jobs.
Overall this printer is great. You will need consistent orders to print. This is not for someone printing less than 50 white under based shirts a day. This machine is a real workhorse and will continue printing as many shirts as you need. No need to worry about not being able to finish a customer order because the machine is overheating. The ink is very expensive so you will need to charge more for your printing services. The free software is ok but needs some upgrades. We purchased the Cadlink Software for the brother dtg but it also has a lot of work to do. I would recommend just using the free software and save. The print quality is good and produces bright colors.