Business takes T-shirts high tech

A Webster City entrepreneur has started offering a new type of custom-designed garments which transfer designs right from a computer program directly on to a piece of clothing.

Denny Jackson, a retired deputy sheriff, is now the proud owner of DtG Prints by Denny, which he operates from his home.

Jackson said he had originally thought of starting a screen-printing business. He proposed buying the screen printing equipment from a neighbor who was no longer using it. His wife, LuAnn, encouraged him to look at the direct-to-garment printers. The screen printer would not fit in his basement office.

“If I had purchased the screen printer, I would have had to keep it out in the garage,” he said. The direct -to-garment method requires a computer, the printer and a couple of other smaller pieces of equipment – much more manageable in size, according to Denny Jackson.

The designs have to be set up in a program, like Corel Draw, or a similar program that will be accepted by the large Brother printer. The equipment looks very much like an oversized ink jet printer that people might have their homes. The computer sends the finished design to the printer. Once the garment is loaded on the machine, the printer first puts down a layer of white ink before other colors are added on top.

“It’s like starting with a clean white piece of printing paper. The colors look much better on top of that white layer,” LuAnn Jackson said.

Denny Jackson said that before any printing is done, the garment is pretreated with a product that helps the ink set.

“Once the design is printed on in ink, it’s heated and the ink is absorbed into the fabric,” he said. He added that the direct to garment designs will last longer than a screen-printed design.

“You’re not going to have that peeling that can develop with a screen print or heat transfer designs,” said LuAnn Jackson.

While screen-printed garments require a different screen for each color, LuAnn Jackson said more elaborate designs and color combinations are not a problem with this system.

“There seems to be more shadows and depth to this process,” she said. The process also allows the business to create garments with detailed photographs printed on. Photos must be at 300 dpi or above in order to use them.

The printing process doesn’t take long, he said. The process takes anywhere from a couple minutes to up to 30 minutes, depending upon the complexity of the design, Denny Jackson said. Once a design is loaded into the computer, larger quantity orders are no problem, he added.

The cost for shirts start at about $8 and go up in price depending upon the complexity of the design and the amount of ink required to produce it, he said.

LuAnn Jackson is no stranger herself to the designing T-shirts, hats and other garments. Her machine-embroidery business, Embroidery by Design, has outfitted many sports teams, family reunions, community theater casts and others. She recently added rhinestone-embellishments to her design repertoire. The embroidery and rhinestone embellishment pair nicely with her husband’s business, she said.

“We can actually combine any of the three things – his printing, the embroidery or the rhinestone embellishments,” she said.

And with all of their business efforts under one roof – their home – it means the two are just steps from the office. They say that the arrangement works well as the each have their own space, but are readily available to jump in and help one another with an order.

“He comes up and helps me when I have a large order of hat to embroider and I help him pretreat the shirts,” she said. “It works out well.”

To contact the Jacksons for any of their garment services, call 832-2965.