Bad Monday: Kornit Storm Hexa R-Series from Amaya

Mark Avery, director

Tell us a bit about your business

We’re a clothing brand with an online store and we’ve been in business almost two years. We started off in my garage with a tiny little DTG machine, quickly built it up and now we have eight to 10 staff and we’re printing 5am to 8pm. We print our own standard-fit T-shirts, front and back. Anything more technical than that we outsource.

What is the latest DTG machine you’ve bought, and when did you buy it?

We bought a Kornit Storm Hexa R-Series. We’ve had other DTG machines previously, but we invested in this in March 2019, just because the demand was there.

What prompted the purchase?

When we started out in October 2017, we had a second-hand Polyprint DTG machine, and that worked for us until May 2018. Then we got so busy that we had to outsource the work to another UK printer, and they were using these Kornit machines. We did that until January 2019, when we realised that bringing the printing back in-house, with the investment in this Kornit machine, would improve our margins. So we ordered it in January and it came in March. 

How much did it cost?

The machine itself was £220,000. Additional items like dryers, plus the cost of transportation, brought the cost up to around £250,000.

What other machines, if any, did you look at before purchasing this one?

We were pretty clear about buying this one. We knew which machine we wanted and needed; it was just a matter of affordability. 

What do you think are its main advantages?

Quality, speed and the cost per print is dramatically lower. It pre-treats the T-shirt in the machine so it’s not a separate process. You press the buttons and off it goes. It pre-treats, prints while it’s wet and then you put the T-shirt through the dryer. It’s a massive benefit that we can now pre-treat in the machine.

Is there anything you’d like to see in an upgrade or don’t particularly like about it?

It would be good if it could dry it as well! The printing is fine and the speed is perfect but the drying process takes 10-12 minutes to go through both sides of the dryer. The quality is fine for us, but there’s always room for improvement. We had a few bedding-in issues which required setting changes but you expect that. Since May we’ve had no issues and it’s been running all day. I can’t really fault it.

Do you have any tips on how to get the most out of it?

We have a rota of really deep cleans on the machine: we do one every two days, or three every working week. Since we’ve been doing that, we’ve had fewer issues. You really have to be on top of your maintenance.

What other machines do you have? Does your DTG machine work in combination with any of them?

We just have this one. Some say it might be risky but we don’t have the space at the moment. At peak time we’re selling about 7,500 T-shirts per month and in lower times around about 4,000-5,000, so we’re managing to keep up with that on one machine at the moment. Ideally we want more, but we haven’t got the space.

What would be your advice to others thinking of buying a DTG machine?

Although it’s a big investment, for us as a brand, this machine has given us flexibility. We can now release and remove designs freely without worrying about investing in a massive amount of stock. With these machines we can release a design online and stock ten of each size rather than 200. If it doesn’t go too well, we haven’t wasted a lot of money or stock. If it does go well, we can just bring in more of them. We saw cashflow benefits within a week. We’d gone from really struggling to having a decent amount of money sitting in the bank. As we print on demand, cashflow is really quick and through Shopify and PayPal, so we had an instant boost.