What Equipments You Need to Start a Print-on-Demand Business
Starting a new business always comes at a cost, and the POD industry is no exception. If you want to open your print production and avoid outside help, you must prepare seriously. To produce high-end goods for sale on any e-commerce platform, you need reliable technical equipment and high-quality consumables. What print-on-demand equipment is mandatory for this business?
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The first thing to start a print-on-demand business is high-performance hardware. Image quality will depend on how reliable your printer is. To work with fabrics and hard objects like tableware, you need print-on-demand publishing equipment of various types depending on what you have to work with.
Nowadays, printing on fabrics is trendy: from T-shirts and hats to phone cases. To start this business, you have to purchase a textile printer. The direct print device is suitable for all fabrics except synthetic materials. The thermal transfer printer that puts the design to paper or films is optimal for textiles, knitwear, leather, and so on.
Remember that each model works with a specific type of ink. Solvent printers allow for permanent printing on outdoor advertising products. Sublimation ones are good for decorating curtains, bedspreads, and clothes. And latex ones are used for printing on coarse fabrics, canvas, and silk.
Another popular product in the POD market is tableware. If your assortment includes products from this category, take a look at the sublimation printing machine. This method is the most common for printing images and, compared to others (stencil, transfer, pad printing, digital transfer), guarantees a bright design and accurate color reproduction.
So, when choosing equipment for print on demand business, it is necessary to start from 3 critical points: the type of product, the material on which the drawing will be put, and the printing technique. For example, if you want to expand your assortment with stickers, you have to purchase a standard label printer or, as a more practical option, a drop-on-demand inkjet printer.
When starting a POD business, you should be ready for customer requests for laminating products, especially if you are going to cooperate with enterprises and produce corporate and image goods, for example, badges and bookmarks with logos. Lamination involves applying a protective film to printed products using special glue. It prevents mechanical damage and gives brightness and contrast.
Laminator is excellent equipment for printing houses, copy centers, and offices. For the print-on-demand industry, it is one of the tools that generate additional income, even if not used daily. Before purchasing, consider what type of equipment you need.
Types of laminators:
- Pouch: works with films formed into pouches of different formats (A5, A4, A3). Inexpensive and compact, easy to use, and more suitable for offices.
- Roll: works with a film wound in a round bundle. It can be used for printing non-standard formats and has a low cost of lamination. It is the best option for fulfilling customer orders.
Choosing a laminator should be taken as seriously as buying print-on-demand printers. Consider the following parameters: film format and thickness (it reaches 250 microns in professional devices), productivity, speed, and temperature (with the possibility of automatic and manual adjustment).
A cutting system is a kind of equipment necessary for each printing business. Modern machines provide highly accurate contour cutting and allow you to control its depth and speed. Depending on the type and functionality, they can work with various materials and products.
If you plan to cut exclusive typography elements and create custom patterns, a plotter will help you. It cuts roll and sheet materials and is perfect for image and advertising products (booklets, stickers, labels and tags, business cards, postcards). The plotter cuts paper, cardboard, vinyl, thermal film, photo paper, fabrics, etc.
There are multifunctional laser cutters on the market that work equally well with the fabric, wood, glass, steel, and even stone. Such devices can combine the functions of cutting and engraving. However, it is not a budget option, so it is better to start with a simple manual-type system for a specific purpose like cutting cardboard business cards.
Computer and Graphic Design Software
To visualize new ideas for a print-on-demand product, you need a high-performance computer compatible with graphics-intensive programs. It must have a powerful graphics card, processor, and RAM. Choose a high-resolution IPS screen to work with details comfortably.
Most likely, essential software will be installed on your PC already, but it is not enough for professional print-on-demand purposes, such as designing custom accessories. You need to find software with advanced features for developing from scratch and editing projects: from creating masks to adjusting the color rendition and overlaying the background, and much more. Let's consider several popular options.
The best design software for print on demand:
- Adobe Photoshop: the leader in the graphics world. Functionality: image correction and retouching, transforming shapes, adding layers and effects, working with sketches, drawings, 2D and 3D models, processing text, creating custom graphic elements, and preparing for printing.
- Adobe InDesign: a real treasure for typesetting (brochures, posters, stickers, business cards). Functionality: formatting text and font, overlaying a background, creating a color palette, working with layout templates, adjusting transparency and gradients, optimizing a file for printing.
- CorelDRAW Graphics Suite: An excellent vector graphics solution for branding, large format printing, and fashion design. Functionality: drawing vector graphics, working with text, adding fonts, processing images, making GIF animations, contouring, tracing, drawing ornaments and patterns.
Access to the full functionality is paid in these applications, but you can use free versions for testing. If you want to save some money, check out the GNU GIMP Generator. It supports manipulating images, colors, gradients, and backgrounds. In addition, this software does not take up much disk space and has lower system requirements.
These machines are designed to bind together individual printing elements, such as stapling booklet sheets. You can provide comb, wire, or thermal binders services. The first two options offer binding at a lower price. The third type of print-on-demand equipment has a high cost, but you will offset the costs by providing expensive services in the future.
It is worth noting that the bookbinding machine is optional for a POD company. But, just like with a laminator, it allows you to expand your range of services, increase your customer base, and make additional profit.
Now you know what equipment you might need to set up your printing business. However, this is not all. You also need to take care of consumables: paper, polymer inks, varnishes, lamination films, adhesives, fabric, embroidery threads, springs, ring mechanisms... To make your activity cost-effective, calculate all the costs of purchasing equipment and software considering the price of consumables as well.