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Why Use RTP Apparel - They Aren't As Good As Pretreating Yourself - MYTHS
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Why Use RTP Apparel - They Aren't As Good As Pretreating Yourself - MYTHS

RTP Apparel, having pioneered the RTP Ready To Print market for apparel that requires no pretreating, we decided it was time to take a look again at the myth that RTP Apparel is does not provide as good of results as compared with those that do their own pretreating. Or the myth that it is more cost effective to do everything yourself instead of using RTP Apparel. Let's begin to pragmatically look at where and how RTP Apparel can be used in your DTG business.


RTP Apparel started in 2014 on a whiteboard in our basement offices in New Philadelphia, OH as an idea that the DTG industry was in serious need of such a product. So, we started working on it and officially launched in 2016 with a commercially available product. Over the past 5 years we've learned a LOT about how to continue to make the RTP Apparel line of products better, more cost effective and easier to use and partnered up with some of the industry's leading manufacturers in Europe to make it a reality (and take RTP Apparel worldwide).

A myth that we often come up against is that our RTP Apparel shirts are no match for pretreating your own garments. Let's take a look at this closer. In the image below pick out the RTP Apparel shirt.

The answer to this is actually (sort of) a trick question. Which 2 shirts are RTP Apparel shirts? The answer is the top and the bottom prints. We often hear from people who do not use our products or have heard from other people that RTP Apparel shirts have too many fibers and don't print well. The image above disproves that. Everything was printed on the Epson F2100 exactly the same as the standard comparable industry available shirt. Virtually there is no difference between pretreating yourself and using RTP Apparel. If you are a serious DTG neophyte you can see subtle difference (like the RTP Apparel shirts are a much truer black than the middle shirt) but these differences in the prints are so minuscule that your end users would never notice the difference (and probably do not care that YOU pretreated it yourself or not - they just want a great looking shirt).


Here's where the difference come into play. Let's say you are a single person DTG shop owner. What is your time worth? $10/hour (I hope not), $50/hr or $100/hr? If you are in business for yourself I hope you are on the high side. Time is THE SINGLE MOST VALUABLE ASSET YOU WILL EVER HAVE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE. We constantly trade our TIME for MONEY. Everyone does. Choose wisely when deciding how to charge and operate your business.

In pretreating a shirt yourself we did a standard spray of dark shirt pretreatment on an industry comparable shirt to the RTP Apparel 1600 Series black shirt. I grabbed a shirt, loaded it, sprayed it, heat set it, and set to the printer - timer stop. In its entirety (and I was not going slow) the actual time was 1 minute 54 seconds. In this example it was for a single shirt. HOWEVER, I will grant that "in production" we might be able to get that down to a shirt per minute. 

If we assume (and we know that this is being very generous) is that one shirt a minute is standard we now know our production rates.

So...Let's assume for EASY math, that you figure your time at $60/hour (though I argue it should be MUCH higher if you want to make money at DTG).

$60 per hour = $1 per minute

1 Shirt per minute to pretreat = $1 labor cost per shirt.

That being said we NOW need to add in the cost for pretreatment.

Let's assume that at the standard gallon rate of DARK shirt pretreatments we are at $50 per gallon. There are 3785 grams per gallon of pretreatment (roughly.. we are assuming the weight is approximate to water even though it is slightly heavier).

A standard shirt that requires 25 grams of pretreatment for a 14"x16" are would then yield...

3785 grams of pretreatment per gallon / 25 grams per shirt = 151.4 shirts per gallon

Now, we know that you might spray a larger area than 14"x16" or use more pretreatment, or screw up a shirt, etc. In any event we will assume based on these calculations...

1 gallon of pretreatment = 150 DTG pretreated shirts.

Now that we know how many shirts per gallon we get we can determine the price of pretreatment per shirt.

$50 per gallon of pretreatment / 150 shirts per gallon of pretreatment = $.33 per shirt cost of pretreatment (not including shipping)

What Does It Add Up To?

We just looked at today the cost of a standard industry equivalent black shirt (which was April 22, 2021 and the shirt was on sale) at $3.29 per black shirt S-XL.


$3.29 for industry standard higher quality black Tee
$1.00 labor (your time) to pretreat
$  .33 cost of pretreatment_______________________

$4.62 cost per shirt for a single pretreatment location (full front)

In this example to be fair, I am NOT including cost of electric for the heat press or printer OR ANY OVERHEAD, or shipping on the shirt. So, in reality, this number will be higher.

$4.62 per shirt. As of April 22, 2021 the cost per shirt if you purchase just 1 (which is the most expensive way to purchase RTP Apparel) is $5.19. Please note that at this time the common industry shirt price has not moved in price YET due to the cost of cotton going up across the industry. Plus, this particular shirt is on sale. When not on sale, standard pricing is on average $3.46 - $4.46 depending on your discount levels.

However, when you factor in the case pricing of RTP Apparel the cost per shirt for a fully pretreated garment is $3.92 as of the time of this writing (4/22/21). 

$3.92 RTP Apparel fully pretreated, Ready To Print______


We are talking about a $.70 savings PER SHIRT that could be going into your pocket while saving you time and increasing your DTG print capabilities by being able to keep the printer running efficiently instead of trying to pretreat and print at the same time (which can be difficult if you only have a single heat press to cure pretreatment and DTG printed shirts).

RTP Apparel Sweatshirt with Image printed on front


Buy, you say, "I have employees doing the pretreatment for me so it doesn't cost me as much.". (and if you say that it doesn't cost you anything at all because you pretreat the shirt then you really should consider WHY you are in business)

Let's take a look.

$12 / hour for hired help

60 shirts pretreated per hour

$12 / 60 shirts = $.20 per shirt for labor.


$3.29 for industry standard higher quality black Tee
$. .20 labor (employee) to pretreat
$  .33 cost of pretreatment_______________________

$3.82 cost per shirt

In this scenario paying an employee to pretreat the shirts only saves you $.10 per shirt - ASSUMING they produce 60 shirts an hour with no defects. We know that NO employee will work as hard as you or be as conscientious. Their production rate will be lower and may have more rejected pretreated shirts. So, the $.10 savings is actually not a net savings but a net loss in reality.


Oh.... that's right. I forgot to mention the customer wanted a full front and full back DTG print. 

$3.29 for industry shirt (on sale)
$1.00 cost for time to pretreat the front of the shirt
$1.00 cost for time to pretreat the back of the shirt
$. .33 cost for pretreatment on front of shirt
$. .33 cost for pretreatment on back of shirt_______

$ 5.95 per shirt 

RTP Apparel is completely pretreated - so there is no additional costs when you have to do additional imprints. You could also print the sleeve and it still wouldn't cost you extra in terms of time/labor/pretreatment.


$5.95 cost for industry standard shirt pretreated front and back
$3.92 cost for RTP Apparel______________________


Even if you utilize an employee at a lower hourly labor rate, the cost is STILL going to be higher utilizing an industry standard shirt at a cost of $4.25 per shirt - or $ .40 MORE per shirt than instead of using RTP Apparel.


If we look at the time, cost, efficiency savings of utilizing RTP Apparel when necessary it can be a business changing decision by helping you be more profitable. Being more profitable helps you be more competitive in the market or by giving you more TIME (which is our most valuable asset you have) to put into the things you want to focus on.

There will always be arguments for and against an RTP Apparel style type shirt. RTP Apparel understands these challenges, limitations and the DTG industry and we wanted to provide alternative methods to help businesses be more successful AND also more profitable. 

The biggest issues with "newbie" DTG printers is getting pretreatment correct to get great prints. RTP Apparel helps with this process by eliminating that point of issue. We realize that RTP Apparel won't work in every situation as the industry does not yet support EVERY shirt manufactured to be DTG Ready To Print. However, in the majority of cases where RTP Apparel works for the job at hand (which is a LARGE majority of jobs), it is an obvious choice for many people to help improve their businesses and personal lives by redeeming TIME that can be utilized to either build the business more or spend outside the business as you desire.


And this is why we created RTP Apparel. To help save you both TIME and MONEY.




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