Roland BN-20 Comparison Print and Cut Vinyl System for Custom T-Shirt Printing
The Roland BN-20 is the model number for what is called a “print and cut” t-shirt printer. It will also print signage and decals, but this comparison is for custom t-shirt printing businesses. We are comparing it to the OKI920WT and the New OKI8432WT, both white toner printers are part of the Digital HeatFX™ custom t-shirt transfer system.
First, we’ll take a look at how each system works, then give you some pros and cons.
The Roland BN-20 is also called the “c” and works in some ways like a regular vinyl cutter and in others like a direct to garment printer.
Like a vinyl cutter: You load up the “media” roll in the back of the BN-20 Roland Versa Studio, then the machine feeds the vinyl roll through
Like a direct to garment printer: While the media roll is fed through the system, it prints an image using the CMYK ink cartridges.
Like a vinyl cutter: Once the printing is done on the Roland BN-20, the roll automatically retracts and the cutter part of the machine takes over. It cuts out the image or images you just printed.
Like a vinyl cutter: When you produce something with the Roland Versa Studio it must be “weeded”. The image that was just print and cut was cut out of a kind of 2 layer material. The design was cut out of the top layer so the excess material has to be peeled from around it. If there are any holes in the image, picture the middle of the letter “O” or the lower case “e”, then those get peeled out from the inside of the design. This process is called “weeding” and is usually done with dental tools.
Like a t-shirt transfer: After you have weeded your Roland BN-20 print and cut result, you place a sticky sheet of transfer tape on top to pick up the weeded design. That’s what you heat press onto a t-shirt. So the Roland Versa Studio is also a t-shirt transfer machine
The Downside of the Roland BN-20
Like a direct to garment printer: Using liquid inks causes extra maintenance and potential maintenance issues. All direct to garment printers and the BN-20 Print Cut System suffer from the same common problems:
- Ink Jet Nozzles – during the Roland BN-20 / Roland Versa Studio maintenance and training videos you’ll hear a lot about “heads” and “nozzles.” With any ink technology, the liquid goes through the “head” and is squirted onto the material through the “nozzles”. Whenever liquid designed to stick to things goes through tubing you have the real potential to CLOG. If clogs are left sitting long enough sometimes you have to replace the whole printing mechanism.
- Maintenance – with the Roland Versa Studio, because it uses ink like a direct to garment printer you must check the nozzles at least every day. If there is a problem in the nozzle check you have to do an automated “cleaning”.
- Maintenance Cost – Every time you do one of the 3 levels of checks/cleanings you use up ink in the cartridges. That means that you need to add costs to every custom t-shirt you print to make up for wasted ink.
So the Roland BN-20 as a t-shirt printer uses a similar media system as a vinyl cutter but also uses ink printing like a direct to garment printer.
OKI920WT White Toner T-Shirt Transfer System as a Custom T-Shirt Printer
The OKI920WT, or OKI920 as it’s usually called, is at the heart of the Digital HeatFX™ T-Shirt Transfer System. The newer model for 2017 is the OKI Pro8432WT laser toner with white toner. It is a completely different way to make custom printed t-shirts vs. the Roland BN-20.
OKI920WT/OKI8432WT is a color LED white toner laser printer. Picture a commercial looking color laser printer about the size of a copy machine and that will give you an idea of the size and configuration. It should also give you a basis for the Roland Versa Studio comparison.
The Roland BN-20 acts like both a vinyl cutter and direct to garment printer. The OKI920WT/OKI8432WT acts like a color laser printer.
- Like a vinyl cutter for media? No! There’s no roll of material to load. You put Laser EZ Peel Tshirt Transfer paper in the tray just like with any printer.
- Like a vinyl cutter for weeding? No! You’ll never weed a t-shirt transfer made with the Digital HeatFX™ system which includes both Okidata proColor white toner printers. Unlike the BN20 Print & Cut the Digital HeatFX method fuses only the PRINTED part of an image to the transfer material. No dental tools needed. Make as intricate or complicated a design as you can. The excess material just peels away in one step.
- Like a direct to garment printer? No! There’s no ink at all. The OKI920 and OKI8432 use special toners; Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and White to make bright, beautiful colors. Unlike the Roland Versa Studio, which uses inks, not toners.
The UPSIDE of the OKI920WT or OKI8432WT vs Roland BN-20 for Custom T-Shirt Printing
The things that should concern you if you want to use the BN-20 as a custom t-shirt printer are maintenance because of the ink, and weeding because it’s a vinyl (rolled media) system. Those things add time to every job and cost just to own your equipment and use it – or even not use it. It also means risk if you don’t maintain it properly.
The Digital HeatFX™ system and the OKI white toner printers have virtually ZERO maintenance. It’s also a much lower cost to operate.
- There is no ink, so you care for it like any other laser printer. Not a direct to garment printer.
- There is no ink so there are no head cleanings
- There is no ink so there are no pads or filters to change
- There is no ink so you don’t need to spend time doing a “nozzle check”
- There’s no weeding so you can print as beautiful a design as you want and not think about how much time it will take to apply.
- There’s no “cutter” so you don’t have to replace blades. OR waste media when you realize your blade didn’t cut enough.
The Feel is Important
If you get into the custom t-shirt business you’ll hear the term “hand” to describe the feel of your design on a t-shirt. That refers to how heavy (plastic-like) it feels. The more coverage of your design the heavier the hand – the more it feels like a decal applied to the shirt instead of a design. Since you have to weed the Roland Versa Studio vinyl results most people make designs that have few or no holes in it. So a typical 10x10” design will be made as a square with 100% coverage on purpose. With the OKI920wt or OKI8432wt systems, you can use less transfer material, and let the t-shirt color come through.
Let’s say that you are printing on a black t-shirt with your OKI proColor® white toner printer. You could remove all the black from your graphic and let the shirt shine through in those places instead. However, because you don’t have to weed out those areas like you do with a vinyl transfer it’s much easier. The t-shirt would have less t-shirt transfer on it but have the same great look. Because there is less t-shirt transfer the whole shirt feels better!
BN-20 T-Shirt Printer Comparison
In the end, you want a t-shirt printer that makes a beautiful product. A t-shirt printer that requires little time and effort to maintain so you can print more shirts. A t-shirt printer that costs the least possible to maintain so you can keep more money for yourself. A t-shirt printer that has the lowest risk for costly repair so you can keep printing AND make more money.
Either the OKI920WT or the OKI8432WT as part of the exclusive Digital HeatFX system is superior in all those ways as a custom t-shirt printer.
For more information on Digital HeatFX and the OKI920/OKI8432 printer, you can chat in the lower right corner, call us or visit and complete a Contact Us form.