The Pretreatment Dance - an article about using the right amount of DTG pretreatment - Brian Walker

The Pretreatment Dance

The Pretreatment Dance – What is the Right Amount of DTG Pretreatment?

The Pretreatment Dance - an article about using the right amount of DTG pretreatment - Brian Walker

A very often asked question in Direct To Garment printing is “How much pretreatment do I need to apply to the shirt?”. For the new DTG printer (and those who’ve printed for a while) this is a very good question. Those asking the question are often frustrated by my response – “It Depends”. 

To help understand how much pretreatment that needs to be applied, we wrote an article for Printwear Magazine in December of 2018. It should be a required read for anyone starting out in DTG printing. 

See the entire article here.

RTP Apparel has 3 Year Shelf Life

Image Armor Gives RTP Apparel Shirts a Longer Shelf Life

Image Armor Gives RTP Apparel a Longer Shelf Life - 3+ Years

Image Armor is proud to announce that our partnership with RTP Apparel, the world's first mass produced DTG Ready To Print apparel, has provided these garments with a longevity that no one else can match to date.

We have been asked on a regular basis how long the shelf life is for an RTP Apparel brand of DTG Ready To Print shirt. In the past we've joked that we have not yet found a shelf life. In saying this, it has been true. We have not yet found a shelf life for the RTP branded shirts.

This morning we decided to pull a shirt from our original batch from the 1st quarter of 2016 and print it to see the results. We followed all of our standard procedures of pre-pressing the shirt to remove any and all moisture prior to printing. 

We printed on an Epson F2000 with OEM inks, set the White and Color LEVELS to 2 as we normally do for our prints with that ink set. This is the result that we got.

As can be seen, the shirt printed perfectly well after sitting on our shelf for 3 YEARS (actually more than three years, but who's counting?). The whites were white and the print looks fantastic.

That is the beauty of our RTP Apparel shirts. Not only were we the first to bring Ready To Print DTG apparel to the industry on a big scale with multiple colors and styles, but we are also the original and can claim a shelf life. 

So, anyone telling you that the pretreatment is only good for 6 months or you need to use the shirt as soon as possible or it may not be good is just plain wrong. We proved that with this print. 

We do suggest using the shirts as soon as possible. Not because of a shelf life, but because if you have shirts sitting on your shelf for more than three years you have bigger problems with your business to worry about than the shelf life of a shirt.

3+ Year Shelf Life for RTP Apparel Shirts Made Possible by Image Armor Technology

100% Red Polyester DTG printing with Image Armor ULTRA

100% Red Polyester Printing with Image Armor ULTRA

100% Red Polyester Printing with Image Armor ULTRA

PRINTING 100% POLYESTER WITH IMAGE ARMOR ULTRA

We've been hearing a lot lately about this pretreatment, this ink, etc. that will allow us to print on polyester fabrics. For the last 4 years Image Armor pretreatments have allowed this to be accomplished. Fortunately with over the past several years we've had additional advancements with inks that also helps make printing on 100% polyester fabrics easier.

Yes, Virginia, That's Red 100% Polyester
We are working on a series of posts / information to help people be able to print on 100% polyester easier with the Image Armor ULTRA pretreatment. The beauty of this is that there is NO NEED for additional pretreatments to accomplish this process. Image Armor has been able to accomplish a cross platform of fabric from 100% Cotton to 100% polyester printing with A SINGLE PRETREATMENT. Even on RED polyester - which everyone knows is the worst possible candidate for DTG printing and white ink.

So, What Did We Do?
First, we utilized the Gildan 64000 100% polyester shirts. These shirts work well for certain DTG printing as other brands also may work. You'll have to do your OWN testing and experimentation as with ANY procedure to find what works best in your shop. We are only providing this information as a gateway - a starting point - for you to begin your polyester pretreating endeavors.

Viper MAXX pretreatment machine100% POLYESTER RED DTG PRINTING

  • We pretreated with Image Armor ULTRA Ready To Use pretreatment.
  • We printed with the Gildan 64000 100% polyester shirt.
  • We pretreated the shirt with the Viper MAXX pretreatment machine (a setting of 60 for Fluid Application on the MAXX)
  • We applied approximately 30 grams of pretreatment to the shirt (for a 14" x 14" area)
  • We heat pressed  using a Stahl's Hotronix Air Fusion. First we hover cured for 1 minute about 1/4" off the shirt @ 265F. Then Heat pressed at 20psi for 20 seconds, let steam out, then repressed again for 20 seconds.
  • PRINTED THE SHIRT:
    • We printed on the Epson F2000
    • We printed using Image Armor F-SERIES inks (though you can also use OEM inks)
    • We set the driver settings to
      • Print Quality for White - Level 2
      • Print Quality for CMYK - Level 3
      • Bumped the white laydown up to 55% (additional white ink printed)
      • Set it to a level 5
  • Curing the Shirt
    • Hover the heat press over the wet ink for 1 minute with a distance of 1/4" off the shirt.
    • Heat pressed the shirt on the lowest pressure using a Stahl's Hotronix at 265F. We pressed 3 cycles of 30 seconds each.

Washing the shirt was done on medium temperature water with detergent, but for drying it was only tumble dried - NEVER HOT AIR DRY THE SHIRTS. This will prematurely break down the ink film.

SEVEN WASHES IN AND STILL COUNTING
You can see in our photo to the right here that we are 7 washes into the process and the image still looks great and virtually no breakdown on the ink film.  There was a significant amount of "boxing" from the pretreatment on the shirt prior to washing. This did washout after the first wash or two. We know that many people will balk at this because you can't give a customer a shirt with the pretreatment box on it. We understand. However, this is the option at the moment for printing on RED polyester. On a black shirt you will not see the box as visibly or at all. We wanted to show the WORST case scenario here with a RED polyester shirt.

The closeup picture (at the top of the page) show the actual printed quality much better. Not only did we not get any real dye migration the print still looks great. We are continually working on doing additional testing but you'll be able to see that the print still looks good. Additional heat press cycles of 4 or 5 cycles might be more advantageous than just pressing the three times that we did here. This will allow the ink to "set" a little better and most likely give a longer product life cycle.

CONCLUSION
Printing on 100% polyester has been able to be done for years now, but there is still no magic bullet that gets rid of all the current issues associated with polyester printing (dye migration, pretreatment boxing, etc). However, it is possible to successfully complete the process as we've shown here in our example.

A little care in pretreating and printing with additional in house testing by DTG shops that want to print polyester will find that this information will be a good starting point.

It's not just the inks or pretreatments that make 100% polyester printing a possibility. It is actually a combination of many factors that go beyond ink and pretreatment - the process.  So, if anyone tells you polyester printing can only be done with their printer, with only their inks sets, only their pretreatments.... they are lying to you for one reason or another. If anyone tells you they are the only ones that will let you DTG 100% polyester they're giving you a line of BS.

We wanted to show it is possible and has been for several years utilizing the Image Armor pretreatments. Can you do it with other pretreatments? Maybe. But we can do 100% cotton or 100% polyester with a single pretreatment.

If you need to purchase Image Armor ULTRA you can find a dealer nearest you on our DISTRIBUTOR page.

 

 

 

 

Image Armor in Italy DoctorPlotter

Image Armor Products Available in Italy Through DoctorPlotter.com

Image Armor in Italy DoctorPlotter

Image Armor is proud to announce that we have additional distribution in Italy for the Image Armor product line. DoctorPlotter.com now carries the full line of Image Armor pretreatment solutions and inks.

Located in Giaveno Italy, DoctorPlotter.com carries a wide array of direct to garment supplies. Our new distributor carries the Image Armor F-Series inks for the Epson F-2000/2100 DTG printers as well as the B-Series inks for the Brother GT3 series of injet printers. They also sell a variety of addition products such as heat presses, print heads, maintenance stations, plotters, printers and more. Additional information can be found at www.doctorplotter.com or by emailing them at shop@doctorplotter.com.

 

 

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.

Axiom America Now Carrying Image Armor DTG Pretreatments

Axiom America Newest Image Armor Dealer with Locations in California and North Carolina

Axiom America Now Carrying Image Armor DTG PretreatmentsImage Armor is proud to announce that Axiom America is one of our newest DTG pretreatment dealers. Axiom America has offices in High Point, North Carolina as well as Irwindale, California. They sell the Brother GTX direct to garment printers as well as embroidery,  sublimation printers, lasers, other supplies garment decorating supplies and equipment.

Started in 2004, Axiom has been a nationwide leader in decoration technologies that help companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow by combining best of breed products with unparalleled technical support and manufacturing consulting. They are highly involved in the sublimation and Direct To Garment printing industry and Image Armor is excited to have the entire Axiom team covering the Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Los Angeles area.

Axiom America can be contacted at their North Carolina office in High Point at (336) 882-8729 or at the California Irwindale office at 800-697-6523 or locally at (336) 882-8983.

The Image Armor products are available on their website at www.axiomamerica.com.

 

Image Armor Inks in Russia

Image Armor Inks Take Over Russia

Image Armor Inks in Russia

Image Armor Inks Take Over Russia

Image Armor is proud to announce that GarmentInks.ru located in Moscow, Russia is now carrying the entire line of Image Armor pretreatments as well as the E-Series inks for Epson repurposed printers. 

Now DTG printers located throughout Russia can utilize Garmentinks.ru to purchase the direct to garment industry’s best and fastest curing white DTG ink on the market. Any DTG printer with a DX5 or DX7 printhead can gain the benefits of increased wash durability and a 35 second white ink cure time with the Image Armor E-Series inks.

Garmentinks.ru is also carrying the full line of Image Armor pretreatments. The LIGHT Shirt Formula is designed mainly for CMYK printing on white and light colored 100% cotton, blends and 100% polyester fabrics which increases wash durability, reduces dot gain which increases vibrancy and detail. So printing CMYK on 100% polyester is no longer an issue and results in prints that look and wash like sublimation but all from your DTG printer! 

The DARK Shirt Formula and ULTRA Shirt Formulas are designed for white ink printing on mid to dark colored shirts. Both formulations increase the wash durability and make DTG printing easier with a wider application window and giving increased print sharpness.

Garmentinks.ru can be found at their website or by calling +7 (499) 490-5274 or dropping them an email at sales@garmentinks.ru.

DTG Capping Station Solution

New Direct To Garment Capping Station Solution

DTG Capping Station SolutionImage Armor is excited to announce the release of our new DTG Capping Station Solution. This new solution is designed to dissolve wet ink and keep it from gelling. This keeps capping stations, flush boxes and ink lines open and cleaner. The Capping Station Solution dissolves wet DTG ink making which in turn helps your printer function at optimal performance. This new formulation will be available in late October.

2 Regular Guys Podcast and Image Armor RTP Apparel

2 Regular Guys Podcast Talk About Image Armor RTP Apparel and the DTG Industry

The May 19th Podcast of 2Regular Guys interview was conducted with Brian Walker where Image Armor, RTP Apparel, and the Direct To Garment industry in general and the true story of how Brian got his start in the industry (and it really is true).  You can click play button below to listen to this interesting conversation and gain a little insight into where we are planning on taking the DTG industry. 

A special thank you goes out to Terry and Aaron for doing the interview and for their efforts to continually educate those in the decorating industry.

Click the PLAY button below to listen to the entire 2 Regular Guys podcast.

Ricoh Print Head R-Series Inks

New R-SERIES Inks Available for Ricoh Based Gen 4 Printhead DTG Printers

Ricoh Print Head R-Series InksImage Armor is proud to announce the release of the new R-Series DTG inks for DTG printers that use the Ricoh Gen 4 printheads.  The R-SERIES inks carry on the legacy of our E-Series which include:

  • 35 second white ink cure time – save time and make more money.
  • More productivity during printing and curing.
  • Incredible white ink coverage.
  • Increased wash durability.
  • Cost effective pricing in comparison to other DTG inks.

The biggest features DTG owners of Ricoh based print heads will find attractive is the 35 second white ink cure time. Ricoh Gen 4 heads can print faster than re-purposed Epson printers. The faster 35 second cure time helps improve production throughput when using a standard heat press to cure the inks.

The new R-Series DTG inks can be found by contacting one of our dealers that carry both the Image Armor Inks and Pretreatments.