The Beatles Said It Best…

Shake-It-Up-Baby-Shaking-Picture-IA-White-Ink

SHAKE IT UP BABY

The Beatles said it best in their song “Twist and Shout” that you should “Shake It Up Baby”. This applies not just to keep your body in shape (and have a good time) but to all White DTG inks on the market.

White inks are formulated to help hide the shirt color and give a good, solid white base on which to print. The very nature of the inks that provides this base also has some interesting side effects that every DTG user must take note of and ensure that they keep in mind. The biggest side effect is the “settling” of the inks. Settling occurs when the ink sits for any period of time and the components in the ink start to “sink” to the bottom. This results in white chunky monkeys found in the bottom of the ink bottles.

There are two types of “settling”.  One is a “hard” settling while the other is a “soft” settling. We designed the Image Armor inks to “soft” settle. This means that those chunky monkeys in the ink bottle can be re-shaken back into solution. This is often why you hear people recommend that end users shake their ink bottles and cartridges daily. This keeps all of the “heavy” components in the ink suspended in solution and the ink working properly.

The “hard” settling is another issue. Hard settling will not go back into solution no matter how hard or long you shake the ink. This is a standard problem with some inks and can cause serious performance issues, even damage to print heads and other printer components.

Image Armor is committed to bringing the best products to the industry to help our end users. One day we will find a way so that you don’t need to worry about ink settling, but for now, get into the groove, Shake It Up each morning and get that white ink moving!

100% Polyester Printing and White Ink

Web-Header-1160x360-100-Percent-Polyester-Printing-2Sport-Tech 100 Poly Gold Shirt on heat press

Image Armor Has Done it Again

100% Polyester Printing with Regular Dupont Inks

Doing the IMPOSSIBLE is what we’ve always strived to bring to our customers. Products that improve the DTG printing experience is what drives us to constantly improve the direct to garment printing process. Up until today, polyester printing with DTG has been limited to CMYK only on light or white colored polyester shirts.

However, in our constant pursuit of perfection, we’ve taken another step closer to the holy grail of DTG printing – white inks on black polyester fabrics. WE’RE NOT THERE YET, but the results of our process speaks volumes about the direction of the DTG market.

Utilizing our existing Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formula, we have been able to achieve commercially acceptable white ink prints on mid-colored polyester fabrics. The process is relatively straight forward, but we are expecting the RIP manufacturers to follow suit to give end users this ability from within the RIP itself to make it much easier to accomplish. Currently we have to do a little “workaround” to make the magic happen.

STEP 1: Pretreat the Shirt

Pretreat the shirt using Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. We utilized the Sport-Tek ST350 series 100% poly performance shirt (more on this in a minute) and applied 24 grams of pretreatment on the polyester shirt. The PT was then cured at 330F for two 20 second presses utilizing brown KRAFT type paper. I would not recommend using teflon as it will definitely shine up the shirt too much. The platen was raised to allow steam to escape and create a much more thorough and dry cure in between presses. We utilized a Stahl’s Hotronix Air Fusion heat press with 70 psi. A little experimentation might find that slightly more PT may help.

A NOTE ABOUT POLYESTER SHIRTS: We must note here at this point that some polyester shirts are better than others for printing. We did not some discoloration of the polyester fabric on the yellows and greys with the Sport-Tek ST350’s (it was not massive but some might find it unacceptable). However, we’ve seen some others that do not discolor. Sometimes this discoloration comes out in the wash, other times it does not.  You’ll need to do some research on what polyester brand and shirts work best for your shop.

STEP 2: The UNDERBASE is Key

100-Percent-Polyester-WashedPrinting the under base is key to getting these polyester shirts with white ink to print correctly. Normally some RIPs will print a solid under base of white under the entire design on a gold shirt like in our example above. However, for technical reasons you will get poor results if you do that with this process.

What you need to do is act as though you are printing the design (specifically the under base) on a black shirt. If your RIP allows you to utilize the black of the shirt color for the black in the printed design, then the RIP will not print any white ink where black is in the design  (the shirt would be the black ink of the design). This process generally creates awesome fades on the DTG prints. This is also exactly what we want for our mid and light colored polyester shirts as far as the under base.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but black ink does not technically need an under base beneath it to look good on any shirt. You can see on our grey shirt to the right, what this white under base looks like when printed. Notice where black would be in the image there is NO white under base – this is extremely important. FAILURE TO ENSURE THE BLACK DOES NOT HAVE ANY WHITE UNDERBASE UNDER IT WILL RESULT IN A LESS THAN DESIRABLE FINAL PRINT ON POLYESTER FABRICS.

Note, your RIP must allow you to ONLY PRINT this under base. You DO NOT want to print the CMYK associated with this RIP’d design. Why? Again, we are not printing on a BLACK shirt. That’s why. So, you must be able to separately print the under base from the CMYK.

It might be noted at this time that the more white ink your printer can put down at this stage is crucial. Set it to a maximum amount of white ink. If you try to go back and print the under base again (as in a 2x under base) there will be massive bleeding of moisture around the edges of where the white ink and polyester meet. Try to bump up the white under base so it is dropping as much white ink as possible without over saturation to achieve a solid white layer of ink film.

STEP 3: Print the CMYK and HIGHLIGHT White

Now, we need to take the same exact image and print it in exactly the same place but with a CMYK + White Highlight option. In our RIP we utilized the CMYK + White highlight as though we were printing on a dark colored shirt (such as GOLD). This would normally print a solid white under base (which we do not use) and then the CMYK as normal with the highlight white.

Skip to main content Dashboard Home Updates 18 Who’s Online Who’s Been Online Jetpack Jetpack Settings Omnisearch Site Stats Akismet Posts All Posts Add New Categories Tags Media Library Add New Pages All Pages Add New Portfolio All Projects Add New Project Types Project Tags Feedback Portfolio All Portfolio Items Add Portfolio Item Portfolio Category Contact Us Profiles Add New Profile Groups Email Inquiry Settings Sweepstakes Forms All Forms Add New Submissions Import / Export Settings System Status Extend Theme Options Appearance Themes Customize Widgets Menus Edit CSS Background Editor Plugins 13 Installed Plugins Add New Editor Visitor Maps Options Users All Users Add New Your Profile Tools Available Tools Import Export Settings General Writing Reading Media Permalinks Easy Columns Google Analytics Social Sweepstakes TinyMCE Advanced TinyMCE prof. Styles Countdown WP Better Emails View Counter Sharing WP Tiles Security Dashboard Settings Advanced Backups Logs Help Floating Social Media Settings Floating Social Media Settings Premium Misc Troubleshoot Expert Support Help Sitemap Generator Options Subscribe2 Your Subscriptions Readygraph App Subscribers Settings Send Email Info Boxes Shortcode And Widget Collapse menu Skip to toolbar Image Armor DTG Pretreatment Solutions 1813 Plugin Updates, 5 Theme Updates New View Post Security Howdy, admin Log Out Help Screen Options Edit Post Add New Enter title here Permalink: http://imagearmorpt.com/100-polyester-…different-inks/ ‎Edit View Post Get Shortlink Add MediaAdd CounterContact Add Contact Form TextVisual File Edit Insert View Format Table Tools Paragraph p Word count: 887 Draft saved at 3:02:53 pm. Last edited by admin on September 11, 2014 at 2:59 PM Nimbus Featured Image Options Remember you need to attach a Featured Image for these setting to take effect. Include Image at the Top of the Page Include in Slideshow Enter a Caption: Nimbus Sidebar Options Sidebar # Publish Preview Status: Draft Edit Edit status Visibility: Public Edit Edit visibility Publish immediately Edit Edit date and time Enable SSL: Publicize: Facebook: Image Armor, Twitter: @ImageArmor Edit Settings Move to Trash Categories All Categories Most Used Education Customer Testimonials Press Release Uncategorized + Add New Category Tags Tags Separate tags with commas X 100%X CMYKX direct to garmentX DTGX highlightX PolyesterX shirtX white ink Choose from the most used tags Featured Image 100% DTG Printing on Polyester with DTG Inks Remove featured image Append A Ninja Form Nimbus SEO Panel Fill in the fields below to optimize your post or page for search engines. Title: Keywords: Description: Recomended Characters Left: 35 Sharing Show sharing buttons. Subscribe2 Notification Override Check here to disable sending of an email notification for this post/page Thank you for creating with WordPress. Version 4.0 4 visitors online now 3 guests, 0 bots, 1 members Max visitors today: 8 at 01:13 am UTC This month: 12 at 09-04-2014 10:22 pm UTC This year: 243 at 08-24-2014 02:49 pm UTC All time: 243 at 08-24-2014 02:49 pm UTC Close media panel Insert Media Create Gallery Set Featured Image Insert from URL Insert Media Upload FilesMedia Library Drop files anywhere to upload or Select Files Maximum upload file size: 32 MB. Insert into postWhat this achieves is allowing the BLACK ink to print directly onto the garment since there should be no white under base in those areas. And, we also get a highlight white to help augment the optical brightness of the white ink.

Please note, you may need to reduce the white highlight percent lower to keep the CMYK (especially black ink) from mixing with the wet white highlight being printed. In our case, we utilized a 50% highlight and 100% white under base (higher values may work – some experimentation will be required). The CMYK was printed at a standard 65% setting. Your printer and ink set and polyester shirts might require some testing on settings, but it is worth it.

Once the shirt is printed, we have to heat set the ink.

STEP 4: Cure the Ink

Here is where it can get sticky. We strictly adhered to Duponts technical sheet of the cure time for their Artistri inks. 120 seconds in the heat press at 338F. I would not recommend higher temps due to the shirt dyes sublimating through the white ink. This seems to give an incredible great balance to wash ability and optical brightness, even on gold 100% polyester fabrics.

Our curing parameters we used a Hotronix Fusion heat press (non-pneumatic) at a pressure of 3-4 on the digital display. Do not use too much pressure and “kill” the inks by pushing them into the shirt.

NOW WHAT?

The shirt is printed, cured, and ready to roll. We’ve found excellent washability with the white ink and CMYK prints utilizing this technique without having to purchase any additional or different ink sets while at the same time utilizing our popular IMAGE ARMOR LIGHT Shirt Formula. This reduces the number of pretreatments needed to achieve great results with all of your current equipment.

Now, since you understand our process, a little experimentation on your end and happy customers will make the hard work on this end all pay off.

UPDATE: 5x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture of wash testing. The picture is a 5x wash in hot/cold and drying hot. Note the closeup inset of the picture. The ink is wrapped around the fibers of the polyester and interweaved – so it is not going anywhere. The drop in initial color vibrancy is maybe 5% like expected even on cotton but there is ABSOLUTELY NO HAND OR FEEL TO THE PRINT AT ALL AT THIS POINT.

Gatekeeper-5-wash-closeup

UPDATE: 10x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture and closeup of the same shirt as above, washed and dried 10 times. There is still no noticeable difference between this and the 5x washing. The closeup reveals a better revelation of the white ink still wrapped around the individual fibers of the polyester shirt. The image is still extremely commercially acceptable after 10x washes.

10x-Washing-Gatekeeper-Full-Shirt-and-Closeup

Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Pretreatment Formula on 100% Polyester Shirts for Brother GT3 Printers

Click to Enlarge Image

Click to Enlarge Image

100% POLYESTER PRINTING WITH IMAGE ARMOR

Maker sure to stop by our booth at the Long Beach Printwear Show July 23-25th. 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!

Longer & Hotter is NOT Always Better with DTG Inks

Hotter-and-Longer-pink-shirt-white-inkIt is a common misperception that more time and higher temperatures will help cure an ink “better”. This mis-information can and will cause you issues in direct to garment printing if you are not careful.

The new Image Armor E-SERIES™ inks have a 35 second white ink cure time. This is achieved through light to medium pressure on the heat press at 356F. However, there is something to consider that many people do not take into account, which we need to look at to ensure we are curing properly.

We can think of curing DTG inks in a similar way that we cure plastisol screen printing inks. Plastisol inks can be cured in 1 second or 100 seconds and still have a durable ink film. The key to curing the ink is to make sure that the entire ink film achieves 320F for the plastisol inks. If this temperature is achieved very quickly via a much higher temperature you theoretically could cure the ink in a much shorter time frame. Or, that same transition temperature could be achieved a lot slower but still reach the cure point. The lower temperature provides a longer time to reach cure, but also is easier on the garment. You could always cure the ink in 1 second, but the 1500F temperature might not be so good for the garment.

The same can be said for DTG inks and the curing process. With direct to garment inks being water based, we effectively need to ensure we remove all the “moisture” from the inks which will then allow the ink components to reach their transition temperature. Once the entire ink film for the DTG ink reaches this transition point, the ink will be cured. With the E-SERES™ inks we recommend to not wash the inks for 24 hours after heat curing to allow the “magic” of the curing process to continue. For most shirts being printed and given to a customer, this will not be an issue. However, it is very important to allow that 24 hour window even during testing inks in your own shop. It will enhance the wash fastness of the inks.

Hotronix-Heat-Press-356F1
What happens if we over cure then ink? Well, too much time and too much temperature can cause some fading of the ink after heat pressing the shirt to cure the ink. Basically the colors start to break down to put it simply. The resolve on this is to reduce the heat setting on the heat press as well as reducing the cure time. Again, we only need to get the moisture out of the ink and get the ink film up to temperature to officially cure the ink. A thin ink film of CMYK only on a white shirt will technically require less time than a black shirt with a heavy white ink film. Our 35 seconds at 356F is targeted to try to achieve ease of consistency for a wide variety of types of printing, however you might find on a white CMYK printed shirt you can reduce the temperature and time slightly to achieve even better results. Please note to do any testing prior to shipping out shirts to customers – always test any temperature and time changes.

We will have additional information for you as time goes by on ways to improve your final prints, and we are excited as several of our ideas might just change the way the entire industry is operating. So, just remember – hotter and longer is NOT always better – especially with Image Armor E-SERIES™ inks.

Why Every Shirt Needs to be Pretreated Video

Video on Why Every Shirt Should be Pretreated – Image Armor LIGHT

We take a short look into why we believe that every shirt should be pretreated and have printed examples to show exactly why that backs this notion. Utilizing the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula we can make every DTG printed shirt look better, crisper, and improve washability.

100% Polyester DTG Printing Without Different Inks

Web-Header-1160x360-100-Percent-Polyester-Printing-2Sport-Tech 100 Poly Gold Shirt on heat press

Image Armor Has Done it Again

100% Polyester Printing with Regular Dupont Inks

Doing the IMPOSSIBLE is what we’ve always strived to bring to our customers. Products that improve the DTG printing experience is what drives us to constantly improve the direct to garment printing process. Up until today, polyester printing with DTG has been limited to CMYK only on light or white colored polyester shirts.

However, in our constant pursuit of perfection, we’ve taken another step closer to the holy grail of DTG printing – white inks on black polyester fabrics. WE’RE NOT THERE YET, but the results of our process speaks volumes about the direction of the DTG market.

Utilizing our existing Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formula, we have been able to achieve commercially acceptable white ink prints on mid-colored polyester fabrics. The process is relatively straight forward, but we are expecting the RIP manufacturers to follow suit to give end users this ability from within the RIP itself to make it much easier to accomplish. Currently we have to do a little “workaround” to make the magic happen.

STEP 1: Pretreat the Shirt

Pretreat the shirt using Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. We utilized the Sport-Tek ST350 series 100% poly performance shirt (more on this in a minute) and applied 24 grams of pretreatment on the polyester shirt. The PT was then cured at 330F for two 20 second presses utilizing brown KRAFT type paper. I would not recommend using teflon as it will definitely shine up the shirt too much. The platen was raised to allow steam to escape and create a much more thorough and dry cure in between presses. We utilized a Stahl’s Hotronix Air Fusion heat press with 70 psi. A little experimentation might find that slightly more PT may help.

A NOTE ABOUT POLYESTER SHIRTS: We must note here at this point that some polyester shirts are better than others for printing. We did not some discoloration of the polyester fabric on the yellows and greys with the Sport-Tek ST350’s (it was not massive but some might find it unacceptable). However, we’ve seen some others that do not discolor. Sometimes this discoloration comes out in the wash, other times it does not.  You’ll need to do some research on what polyester brand and shirts work best for your shop.

STEP 2: The UNDERBASE is Key

100-Percent-Polyester-WashedPrinting the under base is key to getting these polyester shirts with white ink to print correctly. Normally some RIPs will print a solid under base of white under the entire design on a gold shirt like in our example above. However, for technical reasons you will get poor results if you do that with this process.

What you need to do is act as though you are printing the design (specifically the under base) on a black shirt. If your RIP allows you to utilize the black of the shirt color for the black in the printed design, then the RIP will not print any white ink where black is in the design  (the shirt would be the black ink of the design). This process generally creates awesome fades on the DTG prints. This is also exactly what we want for our mid and light colored polyester shirts as far as the under base.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but black ink does not technically need an under base beneath it to look good on any shirt. You can see on our grey shirt to the right, what this white under base looks like when printed. Notice where black would be in the image there is NO white under base – this is extremely important. FAILURE TO ENSURE THE BLACK DOES NOT HAVE ANY WHITE UNDERBASE UNDER IT WILL RESULT IN A LESS THAN DESIRABLE FINAL PRINT ON POLYESTER FABRICS.

Note, your RIP must allow you to ONLY PRINT this under base. You DO NOT want to print the CMYK associated with this RIP’d design. Why? Again, we are not printing on a BLACK shirt. That’s why. So, you must be able to separately print the under base from the CMYK.

It might be noted at this time that the more white ink your printer can put down at this stage is crucial. Set it to a maximum amount of white ink. If you try to go back and print the under base again (as in a 2x under base) there will be massive bleeding of moisture around the edges of where the white ink and polyester meet. Try to bump up the white under base so it is dropping as much white ink as possible without over saturation to achieve a solid white layer of ink film.

STEP 3: Print the CMYK and HIGHLIGHT White

Now, we need to take the same exact image and print it in exactly the same place but with a CMYK + White Highlight option. In our RIP we utilized the CMYK + White highlight as though we were printing on a dark colored shirt (such as GOLD). This would normally print a solid white under base (which we do not use) and then the CMYK as normal with the highlight white.

Skip to main content  Dashboard Home Updates  18 Who’s Online Who’s Been Online  Jetpack Jetpack Settings Omnisearch Site Stats Akismet  Posts All Posts Add New Categories Tags  Media Library Add New  Pages All Pages Add New  Portfolio All Projects Add New Project Types Project Tags Feedback  Portfolio All Portfolio Items Add Portfolio Item Portfolio Category  Contact Us Profiles Add New Profile Groups Email Inquiry Settings  Sweepstakes  Forms All Forms Add New Submissions Import / Export Settings System Status Extend  Theme Options  Appearance Themes Customize Widgets Menus Edit CSS Background Editor  Plugins  13 Installed Plugins Add New Editor Visitor Maps Options  Users All Users Add New Your Profile  Tools Available Tools Import Export  Settings General Writing Reading Media Permalinks Easy Columns Google Analytics Social Sweepstakes TinyMCE Advanced TinyMCE prof. Styles Countdown WP Better Emails View Counter Sharing WP Tiles  Security Dashboard Settings Advanced Backups Logs Help  Floating Social Media Settings Floating Social Media Settings Premium Misc Troubleshoot Expert Support Help  Sitemap Generator Options  Subscribe2 Your Subscriptions Readygraph App Subscribers Settings Send Email  Info Boxes Shortcode And Widget Collapse menu Skip to toolbar Image Armor DTG Pretreatment Solutions 1813 Plugin Updates, 5 Theme Updates New View Post Security  Howdy, admin Log Out Help Screen Options Edit Post Add New Enter title here Permalink: http://imagearmorpt.com/100-polyester-…different-inks/ ‎Edit View Post Get Shortlink  Add MediaAdd CounterContact  Add Contact Form TextVisual File Edit Insert View Format Table Tools    Paragraph   p Word count: 887 Draft saved at 3:02:53 pm. Last edited by admin on September 11, 2014 at 2:59 PM  Nimbus Featured Image Options Remember you need to attach a Featured Image for these setting to take effect.  	Include Image at the Top of the Page 	Include in Slideshow Enter a Caption:    Nimbus Sidebar Options Sidebar #	  Publish  Preview Status: Draft Edit Edit status  Visibility: Public Edit Edit visibility  Publish immediately Edit Edit date and time Enable SSL:  Publicize: Facebook: Image Armor, Twitter: @ImageArmor Edit Settings Move to Trash  Categories All Categories Most Used  Education  Customer Testimonials  Press Release  Uncategorized + Add New Category   Tags Tags   Separate tags with commas X 100%X CMYKX direct to garmentX DTGX highlightX PolyesterX shirtX white ink Choose from the most used tags  Featured Image 100% DTG Printing on Polyester with DTG Inks  Remove featured image  Append A Ninja Form   Nimbus SEO Panel Fill in the fields below to optimize your post or page for search engines.  Title:	 Keywords:	 Description:	 Recomended Characters Left: 35  Sharing   Show sharing buttons.  Subscribe2 Notification Override Check here to disable sending of an email notification for this post/page    Thank you for creating with WordPress. Version 4.0 4 visitors online now 3 guests, 0 bots, 1 members Max visitors today: 8 at 01:13 am UTC This month: 12 at 09-04-2014 10:22 pm UTC This year: 243 at 08-24-2014 02:49 pm UTC All time: 243 at 08-24-2014 02:49 pm UTC  Close media panel Insert Media Create Gallery Set Featured Image Insert from URL Insert Media Upload FilesMedia Library Drop files anywhere to upload or  Select Files Maximum upload file size: 32 MB.  Insert into postWhat this achieves is allowing the BLACK ink to print directly onto the garment since there should be no white under base in those areas. And, we also get a highlight white to help augment the optical brightness of the white ink.

Please note, you may need to reduce the white highlight percent lower to keep the CMYK (especially black ink) from mixing with the wet white highlight being printed. In our case, we utilized a 50% highlight and 100% white under base (higher values may work – some experimentation will be required). The CMYK was printed at a standard 65% setting. Your printer and ink set and polyester shirts might require some testing on settings, but it is worth it.

Once the shirt is printed, we have to heat set the ink.

STEP 4: Cure the Ink

Here is where it can get sticky. We strictly adhered to Duponts technical sheet of the cure time for their Artistri inks. 120 seconds in the heat press at 338F. I would not recommend higher temps due to the shirt dyes sublimating through the white ink. This seems to give an incredible great balance to wash ability and optical brightness, even on gold 100% polyester fabrics.

Our curing parameters we used a Hotronix Fusion heat press (non-pneumatic) at a pressure of 3-4 on the digital display. Do not use too much pressure and “kill” the inks by pushing them into the shirt.

NOW WHAT?

The shirt is printed, cured, and ready to roll. We’ve found excellent washability with the white ink and CMYK prints utilizing this technique without having to purchase any additional or different ink sets while at the same time utilizing our popular IMAGE ARMOR LIGHT Shirt Formula. This reduces the number of pretreatments needed to achieve great results with all of your current equipment.

Now, since you understand our process, a little experimentation on your end and happy customers will make the hard work on this end all pay off.

UPDATE: 5x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture of wash testing. The picture is a 5x wash in hot/cold and drying hot. Note the closeup inset of the picture. The ink is wrapped around the fibers of the polyester and interweaved – so it is not going anywhere. The drop in initial color vibrancy is maybe 5% like expected even on cotton but there is ABSOLUTELY NO HAND OR FEEL TO THE PRINT AT ALL AT THIS POINT.

Gatekeeper-5-wash-closeup

UPDATE: 10x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture and closeup of the same shirt as above, washed and dried 10 times. There is still no noticeable difference between this and the 5x washing. The closeup reveals a better revelation of the white ink still wrapped around the individual fibers of the polyester shirt. The image is still extremely commercially acceptable after 10x washes.

10x-Washing-Gatekeeper-Full-Shirt-and-Closeup

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Garments with Image Armor LIGHT
One of the hottest markets for printing is the sports performance fabrics markets commonly known as 100% polyester garments. For the DTG printer, these are extremely difficult fabrics to print because the nature of the fibers is to “wick” moisture away. Considering that the inks we use are water based inks, this obviously creates a problem and causes the image to not be as bright as it could be resulting in the ink “wicking” and the image to become blurry. Another problem is that the images on untreated 100% polyester fabrics don’t hold up well in the wash.

Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula changes all of that for the direct to garment printer. Image Armor LIGHT allows formerly unprintable or hard to print 100% polyester fabrics to be more receptive to your DTG ink. This results in incredibly vibrant and wash fast garments.

TIPS FOR PRINTINING 100% POLYESTER

1. Pick the correct shirts to try to print on. Not all 100% polyester garments are created equal. There will be some testing required, however, keep in mind that currently 100% black and dark polyester printing is still not quite “market acceptable”. Our Image Armor LIGHT is designed for use on 100% polyester white and some light colored garments.  We recently had a customer utilize a safety green and a bright pink polyester sport shirt that pretreated and printed great for them. Sometimes the pretreated areas on colored polyester shirts may leave a “haze” or window where the pretreatment was applied. You should not see this on white polyester. Testing is required prior to any production run.

2. You may need to adjust your colors. Image Armor has a tendency to make the image look brighter and colors darker (like Black) due to the effect the pretreatment has on the inks. the LIGHT formula enhances the color spectrum and brightness. After you’ve printed a few shirts with Image Armor LIGHT you will get a feel for any adjustments you might need to make prior to hitting the PRINT button.100-percent-polyester-bleed-through

3. More than likely you will need to use a slip sheet. A what? A slip sheet is a piece of paper or something that is placed on the inside of the shirt prior to printing. This keeps the ink from passing through the front of the shirt and ending up on the inside of the back of the shirt.

The reason this happens is that your DTG printer can not print on air. If you hold your polyester garment up to the light you will see that the weave of the shirt most likely leaves a fair number of air gaps between threads. Your ink has to have something to grab onto and that “something” is the fibers of the shirt. If there’s no thread, the ink drops through the top of the shirt onto the next layer below it. In the case of the photo above it was the inside back of the garment. This is the same reason we have problems printing solid white ink on dark polyesters. The white ink is not able to bridge the air gap between the individual fibers in the weave of the garment causing a visual effect of the ink “fading”.

4. Make sure when heat pressing your polyester shirt it is flat. If polyester fabric is heat pressed with a fold in it, it will be there forever. Always make sure that both layers of your garment are flat on the area that will be pressed. This is especially important for heat presses that do not allow you to “thread” the shirt onto platen. Failure to make sure it is flat will result in permanent visual marks where the fold was located.

Many people have given up printing 100% polyester fabrics with their DTG printers just because the images looked faded, they did not wash well, and the ink bleed making the print fuzzy. With Image Armor you can find a new source of work for your DTG printer and expand your business for 2014. Find out why more and more DTG printers are printing 100% polyester and 50/50 white and light colored shirts with Image Armor LIGHT.

Image Armor Use and Application Guide

Image Armor Pretreatments Use Guide

Image-Armor-Logo-Horizontal-Version-transparent-background
PRETREATING GUIDE TO IMAGE ARMOR PRETREATMENT SOLUTIONS AND GARMENT TYPES

Image Armor Light White Background with MirrorImage Armor Light Shirt Formula Image-Armor-1-Gallon-Front-Side-View-Mirrored-800pxImage Armor Dark Shirt Formula
100% Cotton
White: RECOMMENDED – Increases vibrancy and washability
Lights: TESTING REQUIRED – Incredible Brightness and washability depending on the color – Use for CMYK ONLY or W+CMYK. Great for Light Greys, Athletic Grey, Light Blues, Pinks, Similar colors. 
Darks: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use 
White: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
Lights: TESTING REQUIRED – Incredible Brightness and washability depending on the color – Use for W+CMYK (with white under base)
Darks: RECOMMENDED – Incredible Brightness and washability
50/50 Cotton/Polyester
White: RECOMMENDED – Incredible Brightness and washability 
Lights: TESTING REQUIRED – Incredible Brightness and washability depending on the color – Use for CMYK ONLY or W+CMYK
Darks: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
White: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
Lights: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
Darks: TESTING REQUIRED – Good white coverage. You may need to bump up the applied pretreatment amount and white under base to achieve best results. 
100% Polyester
White: RECOMMENDED – Increases vibrancy and washability
Lights: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
Darks: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use
White: NOT RECOMMENDED for Dupont Inksets. RECOMMENDED for Brother Inksets.
Lights: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use on polyesters. Visual residue of PT on shirt.
Darks: NOT RECOMMENDED – Not recommended for use on dark polyesters. Dye Migration is an issue causing poor whites.

All Image Armor Shirt Formulas:

Recommended – Starting Point depending on the weight of the shirt would be 16-22 grams for a 14″x14″ area. Heat Set 330F for 30 seconds, additional 10 second intervals until dry.

APPLICATION AND USE INSTRUCTIONS

Before Use:

  • You DO NOT need to mix down Image Armor. It is ready to use (RTU) right out of the container.
  • Always SHAKE the container before using or pouring into your pretreatment machine container.
  • When returning unused pretreatment from a machine, strain it to ensure no fibers or dirt, dust, contaminants are in the solution. A clean solution keeps you happy.

 

Application:

  • When applying pretreatment to the garment, make sure to apply it as evenly as possible (mechanical pretreatment machines are the best).
  • Depending on the shirt being pretreated there are some variables to consider on how much to apply.
    • A good starting point is 15-18 grams per 14″x14″ area.
      • NOTE: 18-26 grams may provide you with better washability and white optical brightness. This is opposite of what other manufacturers recommend. Test to find your best laydown for the garment you are pretreating.
    • The heaver the garment, the higher the amount of pretreatment needed.
    • The darker the color, the more pretreatment is required.
    • The lighter the weight of the shirt, you can usually reduce the amount of fluid applied to the garment.
    • The lighter the color of the shirt, less pretreatment is usually required.
  • Always use a high quality garment that is ring-spun with a tight knit weave. The smoother and tighter the weave, the better your final DTG print.

 

Curing:

  • Set your heat press to 330F
  • Cure time: 30 seconds. If after 30 seconds there is still moisture on the shirt, re-press in 10 second intervals to ensure garment is completely dry.
  • Pressure setting: You don’t need a lot of pressure. Use light to medium pressure to start. Heavier pressure can be used if required.
  • It is suggested to utilize a teflon sheet, coated Kraft paper or parchment paper when pressing the pretreatment dry. DO NOT allow cover sheet to remain on garment after pressing or crystallization can occur as pretreatment vapors cool.

 

Storage of Garments:

  • Pre-pretreated shirts can be done ahead of time. Try to use them as soon as possible. It is not recommended to go more than two weeks after pretreating before using.
  • Always re-press the garment for 5-10 seconds with light pressure if they’ve been stored for more than a day. The shirts will collect moisture, and moisture is the enemy of good pretreated shirts. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR SHIRTS ARE MOISTURE FREE BEFORE PRINTING.
  • DO NOT OVERHANDLE the shirts. Touching, bending, folding, throwing shirts around will damage and break the pretreatment down on the shirt. For the best results, try not to “man handle” the garments prior to printing.

This is what happens when pretreatment is not applied correctly

What happens when pretreatment is not applied correctlyImage Armor thought that many new users might be able to learn what happens when ink is printed over an area of a garment with no pretreatment. When pretreatment is not applied or not applied correctly to a shirt the results usually render the shirt unsellable.

In the photo above the difference is easily seen between non-pretreated and pretreated areas. What happened in the above example is a case where the image was printed over an area where the pretreatment had ended. The result of printing white ink and CMYK on top of a non-pretreated shirt (left side) results in poor coverage, the white ink not “flashing”, and a totally unusable portion of the print. Where the pretreatment had good application (right side) the print is crisp with bright whites and colors.

The lesson to learn here is to apply the correct amount of pretreatment, evenly as possible, to your shirts before you print. Otherwise, you just wasted a shirt, ink, time, and money that should have been in your pocket.

 

 

10x Washing Update on Soon To Be Released Light Shirt Formula

10X-Washing-Polyester-Sample-Test-#39100% POLYESTER FABRIC TEST PRINT 10X RESULTS
Here’s the 10X washing and drying of our soon to be released Light Shirt Formula. This formula is designed to be applied to white and light colored shirts that are 100% cotton, 50/50 blends and 100% polyester garments.The photo to the left is printed on a 100% polyester fabric (click image to enlarge). The top half of the image is the unwashed control sample with the left side having NO pretreatment applied and the right side pretreated. The bottom half of the picture is the same shirt washed and dried through 10 cycles. As can be seen in the photograph, there is a slight loss of color between the unwashed and washed versions on the pretreatment and un-pretreated sides.Again, a significant difference can be seen on the washed version between the pretreated/no pretreatment versions. As can be seen, there is a significant difference between pretreating and not pretreating a garment.

100% COTTON FABRIC TEST PRINT 10X RESULTS
Below is the 100% cotton shirt sample showing the same scenario of the polyester shirt above. The new Image Armor CMYK formula really enhances the end results of the DTG print. Our goal is to continue to improve and further the direct to garment printing industry’s ability to provide our customers with the easiest to use, best performing products we are capable of manufacturing.

10X-Washing-Cotton-Sample-Test-#39

 

We are expecting Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula to be released early December 2013.