Abraham Ceviz - Mar 18 2024

Top Print on Demand Platforms for Beginners

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Could the apparel landscape shift any more dynamically? As consumer demands for unique, personalized items continue to escalate, custom apparel businesses grapple with the balance of versatility and efficiency. Maintaining a vast inventory poses substantial financial risks, compounding the challenge to meet these evolving consumer preferences.

Enter Print on Demand.

This innovative business model is revolutionizing the way custom apparel businesses operate. By aligning production with consumer purchases, print on demand mitigates inventory burdens and amplifies creative potential.

What Is Print-On-Demand?

Print-on-Demand (POD) is a manufacturing process wherein apparel or other customizable products are created and printed only after an order is received. This contrasts traditional bulk manufacturing and storage, as it empowers businesses to offer a diverse array of designs without the obligation to forecast demand or maintain large inventories. The model thrives on digital technology, allowing designs to be virtually cataloged and only realized in tangible form upon a confirmed sale.

The intrinsic advantage of this model is its minimization of waste and maximization of flexibility. Custom apparel businesses can update, modify, or introduce new designs with minimal risk, adapting swiftly to market trends or customer feedback without the constraints of pre-existing stock.

How does print-on-demand work?

Print on demand seamlessly bridges creators and consumers by leveraging digital platforms for bespoke apparel production.

Eliminating excess inventory, print-on-demand aligns precisely with contemporary eco-conscious business practices.

This model pivots on an order-centric production process, initiating printing and fulfillment only when an end-customer places a purchase, ensuring demand-driven operation and product relevancy.

As orders are received, the system activates; sophisticated print technology tailors each piece to the buyer's preferences, crafting unique apparel without surplus stock's financial strain.

POD vs Traditional Printing

Print-on-Demand (POD) is predicated on agility, allowing rapid adaptation to consumer preferences while minimizing overhead costs.

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In contrast, traditional printing methods necessitate bulk production, requiring significant upfront investment and the gamble of warehousing unsold inventory. This can constrain a business's ability to pivot swiftly in response to market shifts or consumer trends. In essence, POD offers a more fluid, responsive business model, eschewing the risks associated with high-volume stock commitments.

Indeed, POD embodies the epitome of a lean manufacturing model by completely bypassing the inventory stage. By activating the printing process only upon order confirmation, this strategy nullifies the risk of unsold products and aligns perfectly with the just-in-time production philosophy, crucial in today's demanding market.

The upshot is a highly scalable business model that can manage diverse, intricate designs without the financial burdens typically associated with traditional bulk printing operations. With POD, companies avoid the pitfalls of overproduction and inventory obsolescence, enabling them to operate with unparalleled efficiency and adaptability within the dynamic apparel sector.

Pros and cons of print-on-demand

Print-on-demand offers a modern approach to manufacturing and selling custom products, emphasizing minimal risk and high adaptability. This model allows for direct responses to market demands without the need for large inventory investments. Below, we delve into the detailed pros and cons of adopting print-on-demand for your business, highlighting its impact on production flexibility, cost management, and customer satisfaction.


Print-on-Demand (POD) presents numerous advantages for custom apparel businesses seeking efficiency and market responsiveness.

  • Zero Inventory Risk ensures businesses only produce what is sold, mitigating the financial burden of unsold stock.
  • Unlimited Design Freedom: With POD, brands can experiment with abundant design possibilities without financial commitment to inventory.
  • Scalability and Flexibility: POD adapts to demand fluctuations seamlessly, allowing businesses to scale up or down without the constraints of pre-purchased inventory.
  • Eco-Friendly Approach: By producing only what is needed, POD contributes to sustainable business practices by minimizing waste.
  • Direct-to-Consumer Ease: Integrated fulfillment services enable businesses to deliver products directly to consumers, simplifying the supply chain.

This approach is exceptionally conducive to testing new products on the market without significant upfront investment.

In an era where consumer preferences shift rapidly, the agility afforded by POD is immeasurably valuable to staying relevant and competitive.


While Print-On-Demand offers significant benefits, it also has its drawbacks.

  • Lower Profit Margins: The cost per item with POD services is often higher, reducing potential profits.
  • Limited Control Over Production: Outsourcing production means less oversight on quality and fulfillment processes.
  • Longer Fulfillment Times: The printing and shipping process can take longer, potentially leading to customer dissatisfaction.
  • Less Branding Opportunities: Packaging and presentation options may be limited, which can affect unboxing experiences.
  • Product Quality Variability: Consistency can be a challenge, with variations occurring across different orders or print batches.Custom apparel businesses must weigh these challenges against the benefits.These considerations are crucial for businesses seeking to maintain high-quality standards and customer satisfaction.

What print-on-demand customization techniques to choose

Selecting the appropriate print-on-demand (POD) technique depends heavily on your desired product look and feel, order volume, and cost structure. From DTG (direct-to-garment) to DTF printing, each presents its unique advantages and limitations.

Direct-to-film (DTF) printing

DTF printing

Direct-to-film (DTF) printing is a versatile method that transfers designs to fabric through a two-step process, first printing onto a film and then heat-pressing it onto the apparel. This approach affords a distinct adaptability across various fabric types, bypassing some of the restrictions imposed by direct methods like DTG.

DTF's inherent flexibility stems from its ability to adhere to a wide range of textiles. Unlike some other methods, it is not limited by fabric composition, color, or texture.

Furthermore, DTF provides high color fidelity and vibrancy, leveraging the strength of its unique white ink base layer. This foundation enhances color pop on darker fabrics and ensures graphic clarity.

One of the key advantages of DTF includes the soft hand feel it imparts on finished garments, a quality highly prized in the custom apparel market. Moreover, the durability of DTF prints ensures that they withstand repeated washings without significant deterioration.

DTF's scalability makes it an excellent choice for businesses that cater to diverse order volumes. Its operational efficiency allows for streamlined production, even for complex designs, thereby fulfilling both short-run bespoke orders and larger batch requirements.

Ultimately, DTF is a formidable player in a burgeoning POD landscape. It marries technological innovation with practical application, perfectly poised to meet both the creative and commercial needs of tomorrow's custom apparel enterprises.

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing exemplifies precision and versatility, harnessing a digital printing method to apply designs directly onto textiles. It leverages specialized inkjet technology, which impregnates the fabric with ink, rendering a high-definition and detailed graphic.

Typically, DTG is most effective on 100% cotton substrates due to the ink's adherence properties. The process seamlessly accommodates complex color schemes and gradients.

Pre-treatment of garments is a requisite step, ensuring that the inks bind properly and the design's vibrancy persists. This pre-treatment is critical, especially for achieving vivid results on darker fabrics.

The advent of advanced DTG printers has bolstered print quality and production speed, thereby expanding the possibilities for on-demand apparel decorators. Notably, these modern machines support greater color accuracy and have faster turnaround times.

From intricate artworks to photographic images, DTG captures nuances with impressive fidelity, offering limitless creative freedom. The printed apparel retains a breathable texture and undergoes minimal change even after multiple wash cycles.

Critically, DTG printing is a sustainable option within print-on-demand services. It utilizes water-based inks that are generally more eco-friendly and produces less waste in comparison to traditional bulk screen printing.

Screen printing

Screen printing stands as a venerable tradition, offering a tactile quality that many clients find desirable.

With screen printing, each color in a customer's design is applied via a separate screen, layer by layer, on the fabric. This method provides robust, vivid hues and high durability for designs, making it a popular choice for bulk orders with limited colors. Optimal results are achieved with vector-based artwork which allows for clean, crisp lines and a uniform application of ink across all garments. Moreover, this technique supports a broad range of inks and finishes, including metallic and glow-in-the-dark varieties, further enhancing design versatility.

However, the process requires significant setup, with each color necessitating its own screen. For businesses considering their capabilities, the overhead costs associated with creating screens can be substantial, especially for intricate designs with a high number of colors. Additionally, the setup time can extend production schedules, presenting a constraint when quick turnarounds are essential.

As a customization technique, screen printing becomes cost-effective at scale, allowing unit costs to diminish with larger quantities. While it may not yield the same level of detail as DTG for intricate designs, it excels in longevity and is renowned for its vibrant color saturation. Those seeking to leverage this method should consider design simplicity, order volume, and the unique texture that screen printing imbues on fabric, which resonates particularly well with certain market segments.

Popular POD Products and Platforms

In the realm of print on demand, apparel items such as customized t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats reign supreme, forming the backbone of many entrepreneurs' retail operations. These products garner wide appeal due to their endless design possibilities and universal demand.

The allure of “print on demand” echoes in its agility to adapt to shifting consumer trends with negligible inventory risk, driving its increasing adoption among the custom apparel community.

1. Printful


Printful stands as a premier provider in the print on demand (POD) landscape, heralding ease of use and extensive product offerings. Its fully integrated fulfillment services span a vast array of customizable products, effectively serving the custom apparel industry with precision and care. Core to Printful’s value proposition is its drop shipping model, enabling businesses to sell without managing inventory or handling shipping logistics themselves.

Founded in 2013, Printful swiftly carved a niche, differentiating itself with a commitment to quality and customer satisfaction. Their user-friendly platform offers a seamless blend of design tools, production services, and order fulfillment capabilities—creating an end-to-end solution that empowers entrepreneurs to bring their creative visions to life. Strategically positioned fulfillment centers across the globe significantly abate shipping times and facilitate a more expedient delivery experience for the end consumer.

With Printful, customization transcends mere printing; it embodies a meticulous correlation between client aspirations and product execution. Entrepreneurs can leverage Printful's mockup generator to visualize their designs on products before committing, ensuring the final merchandise meets their exacting standards. Furthermore, Printful’s model eschews minimum order quantities, allowing for a high degree of flexibility in order management and customer targeting.

The company's technology stack is robust, offering APIs and integrations with leading e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. This enables a frictionless transition from storefront to supply chain, enhancing the capability of custom apparel businesses to scale efficiently. An emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices further augments Printful's appeal, as they continuously strive to diminish the environmental impact of their operations.

In the dynamic world of custom apparel, Printful remains a bastion of innovation and reliability, adapting to market needs with agility and foresight. Their dedication to harnessing cutting-edge technology ensures that businesses keep pace with evolving retail landscapes, all while prioritizing the paramount importance of product quality and customer satisfaction.

2. Teedrop.net


Teedrop.net emerges as a specialized contender in the print-on-demand (POD) arena, particularly catered to Etsy sellers seeking a streamlined solution for custom apparel. Distinguished by its exclusive integration with Etsy, Teedrop.net offers a unique proposition for those operating within this marketplace, making it a compelling choice for entrepreneurs focused on this platform.

Established to simplify the custom printing process, Teedrop.net automates the entire workflow from order receipt to shipment, directly syncing with an Etsy store. This automation ensures that as soon as an order is placed on Etsy, Teedrop.net instantly retrieves the details, applies the design using Direct to Film (DTF) transfer technology onto products like t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and aprons, and then ships the finished item to the customer under the seller's brand. This seamless integration eliminates the need for manual intervention, allowing sellers to focus more on design and less on logistics.

Key features of Teedrop.net include:

  • Etsy Exclusive Integration: Tailored specifically for Etsy sellers, providing a seamless connection that automates the order fulfillment process.
  • No Inventory Hassles: Like other POD services, there's no need to pre-purchase or store inventory, significantly reducing upfront costs and risks.
  • Automated Fulfillment: Orders are automatically printed, packed, and shipped directly to customers, streamlining operations.
  • Direct to Film (DTF) Printing: Utilizes advanced DTF technology for high-quality, durable prints on a variety of apparel items.
  • Shipping: Ensures that products can be delivered to customers USA and Canada efficiently.
  • Teedrop.net's commitment to quality, combined with its straightforward approach to POD, positions it as a valuable tool for those looking to grow their custom apparel business on Etsy. Through its use of DTF technology and a focus on automatic, seamless fulfillment, Teedrop.net enables sellers to deliver a wide range of high-quality customized products to their customers efficiently and effectively.

The platform's simplicity and focus on Etsy integration make it an excellent option for sellers within this ecosystem. By leveraging Teedrop.net, Etsy entrepreneurs can easily expand their product offerings without the complexities of managing production and shipping, ensuring they can capitalize on market trends with minimal delay.

The platform's simplicity and focus on Etsy integration make it an excellent option for sellers within this ecosystem. By leveraging Teedrop.net, Etsy entrepreneurs can easily expand their product offerings without the complexities of managing production and shipping, ensuring they can capitalize on market trends with minimal delay.

3. Printify


Printify simplifies the print-on-demand process through an expansive network of print providers. It bridges the gap between your creative designs and high-quality physical products, functioning as a catalyst for your brand's expansion.

Enhanced customization is a cornerstone of the Printify platform. They offer a myriad of products, allowing for diverse merchandise portfolios.

Leveraging an agile model, Printify connects businesses with various printing facilities around the world, ensuring proximity to your customer base and reducing shipping times. This international framework reinforces business scalability and customer satisfaction.

Through their robust platform, Printify empowers custom apparel businesses to meticulously orchestrate the production and distribution process. With their guidance, your brand can navigate the complexities of print-on-demand with confidence, whether scaling up or exploring niche markets. Adopting Printify means embracing "smart" production coupled with strategic global logistics.

Print-on-demand FAQ

Is print-on-demand suitable for all types of apparel businesses?

Print-on-demand offers versatility for start-ups to established enterprises, optimized for low-risk scalability and customizability.

How does print-on-demand differ from traditional inventory models?

Unlike conventional stock models, print-on-demand eliminates bulk production and warehousing, printing items as orders arrive, which drastically reduces upfront investment and storage needs.

Can print-on-demand integrate with my existing e-commerce platform?

Many print-on-demand services offer seamless integration with popular online storefronts, enhancing your business's digital ecosystem.

How much does print-on-demand cost?

Print-on-demand (POD) pricing can vary based on several factors including the quality of the shirt, the number of prints (e.g., front and back), and design complexity. Despite these variables, an average cost for a basic t-shirt, excluding shipping fees, typically hovers around $10.

Can you really make money with print-on-demand?

Yes, making money with print-on-demand is achievable through smart design, targeted marketing, and understanding market trends. Successful businesses in this space focus on creating appealing products that meet consumer demands and are adept at promoting their brand effectively. While the absence of inventory costs allows for greater investment in marketing and brand development, profitability hinges on quality products, compelling designs, and excellent customer service. Essentially, with the right approach, print-on-demand can be a profitable business model.

Does Etsy do print on demand?

Etsy itself does not directly offer print on demand services. However, it provides a platform for sellers to integrate these services into their Etsy shops.

What is the best print on demand site?

  • Printful
  • Teedrop.net
  • Printify
  • Teespring (now Spring)
  • Redbubble
  • Society6
  • Spreadshirt

What's the difference between Printful and Printify?

Printful operates as both a manufacturer and a marketplace, providing comprehensive in-house fulfillment options. Printify, on the other hand, acts primarily as an intermediary between merchants and a network of printing partners.

While Printful controls the printing process, Printify outsources production to third-party providers. This fundamental difference affects quality consistency and control.

Printify's model offers a wider selection of products due to its various partner facilities, leading to potentially better prices and a broadened geographic reach. However, this may come with varying levels of quality and production times which can impact customer satisfaction.

In contrast, Printful maintains a homogeneous quality standard by fulfilling all orders within their controlled ecosystem, often resulting in a more cohesive customer experience. Although potentially higher priced, Printful's service is geared towards businesses seeking a reliable and consistent quality for their custom apparel needs, with robust support systems in place for order management and resolution.