100% Black Polyester DTG Printing with Epson F2100 and OEM Ink is Possible

Printing BLACK 100% Polyester with the Epson F2100 and OEM Ink

100% Black Polyester DTG Printing with Epson F2100 and OEM Ink is PossiblePRINTING 100% POLYESTER WITH THE EPSON F2100

We just got our new Epson F2100 DTG printer in for testing and wanted to show you what you can do with the Image Armor DTG pretreatment products.  We are excited to report our first tests and we started with 100% Black polyester fabrics.

We took a Sport-Tek ST340 Black polyester shirt and pretreated it with Image Armor ULTRA. We heat pressed the pretreatment completely dry and then printed the polyester shirt as we would any other 100% cotton garment. We did increase the white underbase from 0% to a 20% increase in white (which may not have been needed) and then let the printer do its thing (We used the highest quality setting for the WHITE and the Color layers). After printing we cured the inks using extremely LIGHT pressure on a regular heat press and cured the ink at a full 338F for 90 seconds (using a kraft cover sheet). I did actually allow the print to sit under the heat press for a few minutes prior to pressing.

The direct to garment print we got was INCREDIBLE looking. White and red ink on a black 100% polyester shirt. I love the stark contrast of those colors, but what was even more striking was the print in the picture here has already been washed 4 times already. FOUR. 

There is virtually NO degradation on the print at all. The shirt looks incredible and will continue to wash incredible due to the Image Armor technology that can be used for 100% cotton and some polyester fabrics. So, if anyone tells you you need a special pretreatment, special ink, or special printer, don’t believe them (though we do discuss below the fact that the Image Armor pretreatments ARE NOT a magic silver bullet for polyester printing)! It is possible and this test print proves it.

We will be exploring the best settings for doing this type of polyester printing with a conveyor dryer to help you achieve similar results minus the heat press marks (coming soon) as well as best practices for using heat presses to avoid press mark issues.

Now, we will preface this article with a disclaimer. You will NOT be able to do ALL polyester fabrics. There are NO MAGIC SILVER BULLETS when it comes to DTG and polyester printing. Dye migration is still an extremely pesky issue we will have to deal with when DTG printing (for a short while longer). So, doing RED colored polyester shirts will still be elusive. Even some LIGHTER colored shirts may react adversely with the pretreatment when applied and heated. This is usually related to an interaction of the dyes and the pretreatment. So, a lot of testing may be in order to find certain brands and colors that WILL work for you and the Image Armor ULTRA project. However, BLACK polyester will be one of the EASIEST 100% polyester shirts to print (depending on the brand and style # used).

But, with this test we end up showing that if you own an Epson F2100 printer with OEM inks, you CAN print polyester TODAY.


Image Armor Pretreatments Certified CPSIA Compliant - Lead Free- Prop 65 Certified - Phthalate Free

Image Armor Pretreatments Certified CPSIA and Prop65 Compliant, Phthalate Free, and Lead Free

Image Armor Pretreatments Certified CPSIA Compliant - Lead Free- Prop 65 Certified - Phthalate Free

Image Armor is proud to announce in our effort to be as environmentally conscious as possible that all of our pretreatments have recently passed a battery of tests and have been found to be compliant with the following:

  • CPSIA Compliant - Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act
  • California Prop65 Complinat
  • 100% Lead Free
  • 100% Phthalate Free

Now, you can use our pretreatments with more peace of mind knowing we are in line with some of the strictest compliance regulations in the United States. We are completely Lead and Phthalate free resulting in our compliance with Proposition 65. 

DTG with the best, and one of the only few truly compliant and tested pretreatments available specifically for direct to garment printing. For further questions please feel free to contact us.

If you need the Letter of Compliance for your records you can download it here.

What's in your pretreat? We know. We've Tested It.

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


  • 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.

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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.



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.


[No pictures in galley]