Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sawgrass's ChromaBlast-R Cotton Transfer System / Ink a Threat to DTG?

Several weeks ago Sawgrass announced the release of a new cotton transfer ink for Ricoh Printers called ChromaBlast-R. This announcement is a really interesting twist to the world of DTG and to the world of transfers. Of course Sawgrass had previously announced a solution for specific EPSON printers, but the inclusion of pigement ink for RICOH print engines gives them a strategic advantage. The reason for this is there are so many different brands of EPSON based DTG printers coming from Asia it is a challenge to understand which printers really work. Certainly from a channel perspective Sawgrass has a much better opportunity with the RICOH print engine, and we expect a more precise marketing message. 

The announcement offers some real advantages against DTG offerings and it will be interesting to follow Sawgrass as they migrate this product into their traditional sales channel.  Our overall impression is they should do well with the product and here's why (all based on reading, no actual usage):

Here are some product details on the ChromaBlast R printer, ink and paper. 
  • RICOH Printer with one set of ChromaBlast R Ink $1,639 (from Sign Warehouse)
  • 100 sheets of ChromaBlast Transfer Media $75
  • 60 mil ChromaBlast Pigment Ink $90
An overview of how the ChromaBlast R product compares to other DTG products is as follows:


  • Print engine costs substantially less than other DTG printers
  • Only offering of desktop RICOH inkjet printers which makes for a better integrated solution
  • Full solution including printer, ink and paper
  • Ink costs seem to be less, although this metric is a bit misleading
  • Speed is superior 
  • Hand is good after garment is washed
  • Longevity of transfer is good

  • No white ink solution at this time
  • Imaging is not direct; print to paper and then transfer
  • Must factor both transfer paper and ink into cost per shirt calculations
  • Must wash garment because paper transfer leaves a polymer coating

Sawgrass ChromaBlast R vs EPSON SureColor F2000
How does the new offering from Sawgrass compete with the "Big E's" new SureColor F2000? We think Sawgrass offers a better value.  Here's a quick rundown of the F2000 and a simple cost comparison:

  • EPSON SureColor F2000 Printer-$19,995
  • 600 ml Ink Cartridges $229.50
  • EPSON Pre-treatment Solution (20 Liter Bottle) $679.95
  • Printhead Cleaning Kit (Every 1000 Images) $94.95 
As you will note above, the cost of entry for the RICOH system from Sawgrass is much lower by a factor of ten times. Whereas the everyday running costs of the RICOH may be a bit higher than the EPSON system, when all is taken into consideration the daily costs seem to be similar. With both systems there is no mention of printhead replacement costs. 

Our overall impression of the new product from Sawgrass, as compared to DTG is positive. We will address how the product compares to transfer printers, such as the GO UNO and OKI 920WT in a later post. 


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