TIP #1 for Getting the Best Results on 100% Black Polyester

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TIP #1: PRETREATING AND CURING THE PRETREATMENT FOR 100% BLACK POLYESTER PRINTING

  • You will typically need MORE pretreatment than a standard 100% cotton garment. Try starting your testing with 30-40 grams of ULTRA pretreatment.
  • This means the shirt is going to be WET!
  • Try Hover Curing…… this will require NO cover sheet and keep the dreaded heat press marks from showing.
  • But prior to placing the garment on the heating platen, pre-press the platen for 10-20 seconds to really get the rubber on the bottom hot, then place the shirt on the heating platen and hover. The heat from the bottom will help cure the ink from the underside while the hovering cures from the top. It will speed up the curing and result in a no-contact, better cured print.
  • Depending on the gap distance of your heat press to the garment surface, time will vary until it is dried and ready to print. DO NOT OVER CURE! This will make the garment permanently stiff.
  • Try 356F and start with 2-3 minutes. This will most likely not be enough, but remove the shirt and repress the rubber platen to get rid of any moisture and re-heat it.
  • NOTICE: The garment is going to be REALLY stiff….. the flexibility will return after 15-30 minutes of sitting out and returning to standard room temperature. Do not try printing while the shirt is stiff…. you need the pliability to fit your platen best.

If You’re Using A DTG IV Ink Bag System You Must Read This

DTG IV Bag SystemMany DTG printers today are utilizing what can easily be called the DTG IV Bag Ink System. That is because if you have ever been to a hospital and been hooked up to one, you know it looks exactly like an intravenous drip system used to administer drugs into a patient. In this case, that patient is the DTG printer.

These type of ink deliver systems are great to help gravity feed your print, but they can cause issues because it is often easier to “forget” the inks are there and never touch it again until the ink runs out. This will cause you more headaches than you want, but the headaches are easily avoidable.

If you do utilize this type of ink delivery system, follow these simple Tips.

TIP #1: Before hanging the bag, make sure to agitate and mix the white ink well to ensure it is entirely mixed up. You can easily see if it is homogeneously mixed.

TIP #2: DO NOT LEAVE THE BAG HANGING OVERNIGHT! When you are done printing for the day, take the white ink bags down and lay them on their side. The reason for this is that the Image Armor E-SERIES inks do separate faster than Dupont, but that’s by design. What we are seeing is that most people hang the bags and forget about them and DO NOT MIX the white ink after hanging. Since the inks can separate, the heavier particulates that make up the white ink will sink to the bottom and into the IV lines easier. These “heavier” ink solutions can then be pulled into the print heads and dampers causing head failures. NEVER, EVER LEAVE WHITE INK BAGS HANG OVERNIGHT OR OVER THE WEEKEND IF YOU ARE NOT PRINTING. Removing them will cause you to be reminded to mix the ink in the bags prior to hanging them back on your IV stand/hooks.

TIP #3: Never re-use an ink bag. Many people buy bulk ink and want to re-fill their own bags. Image Armor does not recommend this as it can lead to multiple problems. Residual white ink in the bags can cause series issues within the DTG printing system as it might not be fresh, of the right “mix”, etc. It is NOT recommended to ever re-use an IV bag. ALWAYS USE A FRESH BAG WITH FRESH INK.

IN CONCLUSION:

We want to ensure that our users have the most issue free, easy to use inks on the market. Following these simple steps above will help us all achieve that goal. Remember – if you’re printing, hang the bags, if not, take them down.

Indonesia Loves Image Armor

Every now and then we get reports from around the world about our inks and pretreatments. I was sick the past couple of days and when I saw this video, it made my day. They had switched from Dupont over to our Image Armor E-SERIES inks and said they this on the T-Shirt Forums

“A couple of weeks ago, I just switched my white ink from Dupont to IA, and was really amazed with the result. What is stated in their site for 35s of curing time totally blows my mind. Shorter curing time really makes the result feels gummy/gelly, not cracked, and more importantly, its amazing durability after several washes (I know it’s too early to say this, but I have the feeling it will have)…..But I really really love the ink, though.. and I think it’s hard for me to switch back to dupont or firebird after seeing the results.” – Rugzac

Though you most likely will not be able to understand what they are saying unless you speak that dialect from Indonesia but you’ll get the idea. Thank you to Rugzac – you made our day!

 

How To Improve Your DTG Prints On 50/50 Garments

Jerzees-29M-50-50-Printed-not-PrintedIt’s fun for us to do the trade shows circuit with the Image Armor products. We often get DTG printers who stop by our booth and have never tried any of the Image Armor pretreatments. When they see what our pretreatments are capable of letting them achieve, they start to get excited.

One such example is pretreating all of your white and light colored 50/50 garments with our LIGHT Shirt Formula. Why? As can be seen in the image to the left (click to enlarge) just simply pretreating the blended shirt will allow you to achieve much richer colors, blacker blacks, and an increased image detail that will help take your prints to the next level – one you’ll be proud to offer to your customers.

Some reason that they can just do a double print to up the black intensity and color vibrancy. The problem there is that while it might help improve the image quality a little bit, you’re doubling your ink cost AND wash fastness will be even worse. There’s only so much ink that can “hold” to the garment. The LIGHT Shirt formula works to increase wash durability on 50/50’s so that over the long haul you have a better looking shirt that lasts longer.

The great thing with our LIGHT Shirt Formula is that it works with pretty much every CMYK ink set on the market today. This means if you have an older Brother GT-541 or 782 printer you can make it look like a new printer. Your reds, which on those printers actually was more of a muted red, will be enhanced to the point you’ll want to print more shirts on your DTG printer.

All DTG printers will find that they can achieve better results using the LIGHT Shirt Formula. Give it a try. Adam from Surf Signs and Designs uses it with his Brother GT-3 garment printer for all of his CMYK printing. Watch his video testimonial from an actual user!

How Much More Money Can You Put Into Your Pocket By Switching To Image Armor Inks?

Financial success and Profit with Image Armor Inks

NEW SPREADSHEET SHOWS YOU HOW MUCH EXTRA YOU CAN PUT INTO YOUR POCKET JUST BY USING IMAGE ARMOR INKS

We thought this would be a great little spreadsheet to help everyone understand how much more money that they can put into their pocket over the course of a year simply by switching to Image Armor Inks. This simple spreadsheet is downloadable and allows you to enter the cost of inks your are paying right now on a per liter basis. We recommend you use the WHITE Ink price as this generally is the higher of the prices and you typically end up using more white ink vs the CMYK in a standard print.

In addition, you can enter the average number of cc’s of ink used in a design. Now, obviously this changes with each and every print, but if your printer gives you an average printed, use that. If not, just take a standard design and put it into the spreadsheet. You can adjust the number to see what happens with higher or lower cc’s used. Many manufacturers try to tell you your cc usage will be lower than what you think. This is achievable if you really concentrate on the artwork and try to utilize a lot of blank space, shirt color instead of ink color, and reduce the underbase, etc. However, many people print solid line art designs on black shirts that can use a LOT of white ink… play with it and see what Image Armor Spreadsheet to Learn How much more money you can make by switching to Image Armor Inks

happens. You might be surprised how much EXTRA you can be putting into your pocket – not your distributor’s or manufacturer’s pocket. Remember – your loyalty is to YOUR BOTTOM LINE – not your distributor or printer manufacturer’s bottom line. If you don’t make money – you go out of business. Every extra penny saved adds up – just see the spreadsheet to see how much.

You can also change the number of shirts per hour your DTG printer can print (on average of course) as well as the total number of hours per week you try to keep your printer running. Or, if you prefer to just put in the total number of shirts you printed last year you can still arrive at the same NET PROFIT put into your pocket.

We hope you enjoy this little spreadsheet and this is just the beginning. We have a lot of other tools we plan on helping you understand how to improve your bottom line profitability. We know that if we can make YOU successful, Image Armor will also be successful.

Download Now Button Click the DOWNLOAD NOW button to download the spreadsheet and start seeing how much money you can put into your pocket this next year. By clicking this it will most likely download the spreadsheet to your DOWNLOADS folder. You’ll need to find it and then open it in Excel to be able to play with it!

DISCLAIMER: This spreadsheet only reflects user entered data and does not guarantee any specific monetary return. User is responsible to calculate out actual savings. Image Armor is not responsible or be held responsible for any data derived or decisions made from using this spreadsheet.

White Ink and WIMs Filter Change Over Notice

WIMs Filter PN LCF-24100For any users who use are looking to switch to the Image Armor E-SERIES DTG inks and are utilizing a WIMs (White Ink Management) system to recirculate their white inks, or a printer that utilizes a standard filter like the one seen to the left (usually they are inline somewhere – sometimes before the ink lines hit the print heads), here are a few things you should take notice before making the switch.

Due to the chemistry of the Image Armor inks, which allow the E-SERIES white ink to cure in 35 seconds and have great wash durability, our interaction of inks with standard fabric filters is not recommended. Many of the WIMs today are found on older DTG brand or re-branded type DTG printers. These in-line filters are easily replaced and exchanged.

The replacement filter that you want to utilize, most often found on the DTG brand, will be the PALL LCF-24100 Rigimesh (18 μm) Filter with the correspondingly correct connection mechanism. These filters replace the fabric mesh filtration material with a stainless steel filter material. Check with your local Image Armor Ink dealer to ensure that you get the correct part as most dealers should have these on hand for the conversion kits they offer.

Failure to convert or change out the filter to the stainless steel version can result in a reaction of the ink with mesh material causing “clots” to form, potentially  clogging the filter entirely or allowing the clots to breaking free and flow into other printer components like the print head and/or dampers. The inks in and of themselves will not clot or coagulate on their own, only when they come into contact with the fabric style filter material and, over time, accumulated deposits can form and result in other DTG component failures.

Check with your Image Armor dealer for more information.

What Happened Over the Weekend?

What-Happened-to-my-white-ink-over-the-weekendI thought this would be prudent to post for people to understand the physics of the inks, especially after a long weekend or several days of no white ink printing.

The photo to the left shows what I saw this morning after 2 1/2 days of no printing. I shook the ink in the bottles and the carts, but it was a little more difficult to “shake” the ink in the lines and the actual printhead, so the ink in those components was not able to get “back into solution”.

The issue is that as the inks will start to “soft settle” over the weekend. This means that the heavier titanium dioxide, what makes the ink white, is heavier than the solution it is suspended in. So, as it sits, it will want to settle out. This is easily put back into solution simple by shaking and getting it mixed back into the solution and is a normal function of the white ink.

You can see at the top of the picture what the ink looks like when it is printed when it is somewhat out of solution. It appears blotchy and the opacity is not good. As the print moves down the shirt and the inks in the lines are moving and the print head expels the ink in it that has not been able to be shaken is purged, the ink starts to gain opacity again. Then at the bottom of the photo you can definitely see the results of the ink printed as it is back into solution. It is a nice, solid white ink with great opacity – what you would expect when everything is printing correctly.

The tip for the day is to make sure you shake the white ink up daily before using it and really shake it up after several days of no printing. You might consider just printing a solid block of white a couple inches high to “purge” the non-homogenous ink and get your printer back into white printing shape.

100% Polyester Printing with Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula on Brother GT3

Brother-Printer-Jurassic-100-Polyester-SPlit-Shirt-Light_IA-Formula-800px100% Polyester & Pretreating REALLY Does Make A Difference

Maker sure to stop by our booth at the Long Beach Printwear Show July 23-25th, 2015. Image Armor will be in Booth #932 on the end aisle and you can check out this incredible print in person. We printed this on a 100% white polyester shirt and only pretreated the right side of the shirt with Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. The left side was untreated and we then printed the image onto the shirt to show the contrasting difference of printing on our LIGHT Shirt Formula vs untreated 100% polyester.

We think the results speak for itself. And yes, if you have any direct to garment printer be it a Brother, Epson, or re-purposed Epson, you can use our LIGHT SHIRT Formula to get results like this….. it looks almost like sublimation – but off your DTG printer.

We look forward to seeing you at the Long Beach Show!

DTG White ink on Black Polyester

A DTG Industry First – White Ink on Black 100% Polyester

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Updated 3:10 p, 9/3/15   2:08p 9/8/15

Image Armor, LLC is proud to announce that in an industry first for Epson re-purposed printers we have achieved white ink printing with superior wash fastness on black 100% polyester fabrics. Previously there were serious dye migration and wash issues associated with trying to print white ink on black polyester fabrics. With Image Armor’s new E-SERIES DTG Inks for Epson re-purposed printers and our ULTRA pretreatment we’ve created, and are still perfecting, the process to now make this a production oriented process for ANY Direct to Garment printing shop.

In the past you’d have had to either screen print or use a Cad-Cut type material to do dark polyester fabrics. The incredible ink properties of the E-SERIES DTG Inks allow for incredible stretchability as well as adhesion even to synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

We will outline this process for everyone so that they can achieve these results on their own utilizing their own DTG equipment. The two main things that are needed are the E-SERIES DTG inks and the ULTRA Formula pretreatment.

The Process

Picking a good polyester shirt is the first step in successfully printing black polyester. We utilized the Sport-Tek ST340 for this specific test, but are currently testing a variety of other polyester shirt makes, styles and manufacturers. This is a cationic dyed polyester shirt which means the process used to dye the shirt to the color desired happens at a lower temperature. For us that means less dye migration when heating to cure the ink. However, we are still testing other polyester shirts and dye processes because the Image Armor E-SERIES inks cure in 35 seconds or less which definitely helps the process of mitigating the potential for dye migration.

Full-Rodeo-Shirt-Black-Polyester-small
PRETREATING

Pretreating is relatively straight forward like any shirt. We applied 32 grams of Image Armor ULTRA pretreatment. However, higher amounts could be applied up to 40 grams or so. The shirt was then heat set but here’s where we deviate from the standard  pretreatment heat setting process. We set the heat press to 356F and set the pressure so that when we lower the heat press platen onto the garment that there is just “contact” with the shirt – no pressure period. Due to no pressure, the pretreatment will take longer to steam off and “dry”. Instead of the standard 35-40 seconds you might end up doing two 30-35 second presses. Make sure to utilize a cover sheet during pressing but avoid teflon as it could potentially shine up the polyester fabric.

If you end up using too much pressure you will definitely see a noticeable area  or what is known as a “heat press mark”. Typically this mark is a definite, visible mark that looks like the fabric is melted slightly and will not wash out. This is why we utilize virtually no pressure on the fabric during the curing of the pretreatment.

Please note, that when you pull the shirt out of the heat press it may be extremely stiff. This is normal. If you allow the shirt to cool down, it will return to its normal “loose” fabric feel it had prior to pretreating.

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PRINTING
The printing process is relatively straight forward like the pretreating process, however some printers and RIPs may be better suited for printing white ink on polyester fabrics than others. Loading the shirt onto the platen is a very crucial part of this process. You want to be able to thread the shirt onto the platen for optimal performance of the print. If your printer platen only allows you to lay the entire shirt onto the platen you will run into some issues with ink passing through the first layer of the shirt and depositing onto the inside of the back of the shirt. This happens because the weave of most polyester fabrics are not a super-tight weave leaving a lot of open air areas between the threads. DTG printer ink can not bridge this gap and thus the ink will just jet through onto whatever is behind it. In this case the inside of the back of the shirt.

One solution is to utilize a slip sheet in between the layers of the shirt however this can cause issues due to the amount of ink being deposited. The ink will soak the paper and cause it to swell and possibly bubble up, raising the surface of the shirt enough that you might run into a head strike. Due to the high concentration of pretreatment a head strike can quickly clog up nozzles in a print head and possibly leading to a replacement of the printhead.

Close-up-black-polyester-with-white-ink

A close-up of the printed shirt reveals the open mesh weave of the athletic polyester shirt. This makes the ink look pin holed or less white than normal due to the black of the shirt showing through these holes.

The main point is you want to lay down as much white ink as possible on the first pass for the underbase. You will need to apply typically more ink than on a 100% cotton shirt. How much white ink you can lay down in a single pass will be dependent upon the printer and the RIP. Some printers, like the Epson PRO series printers (i.e. 3880) will not allow as much ink to be deposited as say an Epson 3000 printer. You will have to do independent testing with the type of printer you have and the RIP.

Working on conjunction with the amount of ink the printer can physically lay down is the RIP. The RIP will also limit how much ink you can deposit. Polyester will require 1.5-3 times the white ink to achieve a great looking finished product when compared to a 100% cotton shirt. Of course, testing with your own equipment and settings will be required. Laying down too much white ink can result in the white ink not being “kicked over” enough and then when the CMYK is applied it will look great on the printer platen, but when you heat press the ink it will blend into the white causing a dulling and image clarity degradation. So, finding the optimal amount of white ink for your printer will take some testing.

You DO NOT want to deposit a lot of white ink on the second, or highlight pass. This is because all the pretreatment has been used up in kicking over the initial deposit of white ink. The addition of printing more white ink will result in a serious wicking of moisture and components from the ink into the surrounding polyester fibers. The ink will either “spider out” or create a halo around the image which may or may not wash out after printing.  Many times, when depositing a lot of white ink on the underbase, you will still get this halo effect. This will usually wash out in the first wash and is most noticeable on lighter colored garments.

We have found that certain colors of polyester, especially red and maroon will most likely still dye migrate during the curing process and even after the cure has been completed. This is something we are still working on, however it is still going to be an ongoing issue in dealing with our water based inks.

CURING THE INK
Again, the key to making white ink printing on black polyester is found in the characteristics of the inks and how they cure. The Image Armor E-SERIES inks cure at 356F for 35 seconds. This works in our favor with polyester fabrics due to the shorter cure time. However, with the amount of white ink deposited and a much lighter (just touching) pressure on the heat press, we still need to ensure that the entire ink film has the moisture removed AND gets above 310F. Use a cover sheet when heat curing the ink and after 35 seconds lift to let any moisture escape. You might also want to try two 20 second presses. Getting rid of the moisture is key and allowing the ink to achieve full curing status temperature. If you put your hand over the print just after releasing the heat press and you can still “feel” moisture coming off the print, it most likely is not done curing or dry. You will need to ensure a full cure, otherwise the print will start flaking off after just a couple of washes.

Some have asked about hovering or utilizing a conveyor dryer. Though we have not tested the conveyor dryer at this time, hovering a heat press does not seem to work really well. The inks will try wrapping around the fibers leaving “cracks” in the colors resulting in a less than desirable print.

Again, we do not want to utilize pressure on the heat press to avoid the heat press mark. These don’t really wash out because we’ve altered the fabric with excessive heat and pressure. You DO need to ensure that you have enough pressure though to help accelerate the curing of the ink…it is like a dance and you have to find the right combination of steps to make it all work properly. Test, test, test.

Also, make note that the shirt will come off the heat press and as it starts to cool, will become very stiff. Do not worry. In our testing the shirts returned back to normal flexibility with little to no hand on the shirt after 10-15 minutes.

WASHING OF THE GARMENT
We would highly recommend washing the garment prior to wearing obviously as with any DTG printed shirt. However, the wash characteristics are extremely favorable due to the way we formulated the E-SERIES inks. Other than regular washing techniques suggested for the specific fabric, we really do not have any other requirements for good washing. As long as the ink is cured it will wash extremely well. We tested our shirts in the extreme of washing – hot water during the wash and high heat during the drying of the shirt. For optimal results warm to cold water washing and hang drying of the garment will result in the longest life of the shirt and print.

MAKING IT ALL HAPPEN
Due to the nature of the E-SERIES inks we have been able to achieve really good results while printing on black 100% polyester fabrics. In fact, some look as good or better than screen printed designs and could easily pass for standard screen printing. There is still a lot of work to do to perfect this process, but we are making great strides to achieve an industry wide, easy to accomplish task. We’ve only been able to do this with the Image Armor inks and not any other brands within the Epson re-purposed printers. So, you no longer need to be confined to just cotton shirts. Let the power of the E-SERIES inks open new doors and profit opportunities for your business.

What NOT TO Do When Changing to Image Armor E-SERIES Inks

Tap-Water-300x210When you are changing from one ink set to another you want this process to go as smoothly as possible. You don’t need any issues or complications but often in the race to save a few dollars you might end up costing yourself hundreds of dollars in repairs. The process of cleaning your printer out is not difficult, but make sure you are using the correct tools to get the job done.

There are some people that will want to create their own cleaning solution from a recipe they found on the internet. They gather the components, turn on the tap at the sink and create their cocktail and flush the printer. Then, when they go to run the new E-SERIES inks through the printer they find out that there’s all sorts of problems. The dampers are clogged up or even worse – the print head is totally clogged up (or more frustratingly partially clogged but still firing and not suited for printing).

Tap water contains a bevy of chemicals that can react adversely with Direct to Garment inks. When the tap water comes into contact with the inks they can begin to gel, coagulate or get “funny” and start to clog up the inner workings of your DTG printer. This obviously is not a good thing for your printer or your mental health.Cleaning-Solution-1-Liter-250px

It is only recommended to use an authorized CLEANING Solution designed to really clean the system and break down the inks to ensure you get a proper flushing of your DTG system. In the case of switching to Image Armor E-SERIES inks you will want to make sure to use the Image Armor CLEANING Solution (red label) to make sure the process of changing inks is as smooth as possible. Our CLEANING Solution is designed to break down DTG inks and clean the printer system properly.

If you are starting fresh with a brand new printer then this is a whole different story as you won’t need to worry about flushing your old ink form the system. But on the occasion you find that you must flush your printer, do not try to save a few dollars by making your own cleaning solution or you may find out your wallet will become much lighter and your blood pressure rising. Use the proper CLEANING solution. Ask your Image Armor Dealer for more details or help on flushing your printer.