T-shirt Printer on Your Desktop


Ever dreamed of making a custom T-shirt with a cool slogan or fresh meme on it at the snap of a finger? You can do so pretty soon with Ricoh Ri 100 coming to the US in the Spring.

Printing on fabric is technically challenging — as with 3D printing it requires special consumables, faces some constraints when it comes to the designs you can print and can reach high temperatures. So direct-to-garment (DTG) printing hasn’t been consumer-friendly when it comes to prices. Until now.

The Ri 100 is basically a dye-sublimation printer transformed to work with CMYK inkjet printheads. This printer consists of two parts: the printer itself and a heating unit (the RH 100) on the bottom to cure the print. The bundle comes at as low as $4,500.

The printing is rather straightforward: you load up the fabric in the cartridge, stick it in and print, then remove the cartridge and put it in the heating unit for about three minutes. The estinated cost is about 50-60 cents per print (that does not account for the T-shirt), plus it’s quite colorfast and should last the life of the garment.

Of course, there are some limitation as to what material you can use — the printer can only print on strong, natural fibers (mostly cotton and its blends) of solid colors and on light-colored fabrics.

The RICOH Ri 100 is one of the smallest known DTG printer: it can fit into a space as small as 399 x 698 mm. The device comes with
Ricoh Design Software for you to import and edit images before printing, with no specialized knowledge or skills required.

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