To What Degree Do Different Shirts Really Affect My DTG Printing?

Direct To Garment printing should be easy, right? Just load the graphic, the shirt, and press the PRINT button. But anyone who has ever done DTG printing knows that there is a LOT more to it than just that. Even though there are a lot of moving parameters in DTG printing, they can be overcome and tamed. You just need to have a little knowledge working on your side to tame the DTG beast.

It seems that 80% of all DTG printing problems relate back to improper pretreatment, or preparation, of the shirt prior to printing. Pretreating is the "foundation" of your DTG house. A poor pretreating job results in a poor print. But, what kind of impact does the foundation of your pretreatment job, the actual T-Shirt itself, do to your DTG print?

To explore this a little further, we utilized a new Wedge Step Test developed for the Viper MAXX pretreatment machine, but this can easily be recreated on many of the pretreatment machines on the market. The Wedge Step Test allows you to print an image across a wide range of pretreatment applications. Think of it as several columns of pretreatment across the shirt. But each individual column is set to a differing amount of pretreatment. You might start at 10 grams on the left and increase it by 5 grams in each column. The far right column of pretreatment might end up being 35 grams. 

This is exactly what we did with our Viper MAXX and Image Armor pretreatments. 

WHAT DOES THIS ALLOW?
This allows us to take a finished shirt that we want to print on and explore how differing levels of pretreatments and different print settings react with the pretreatment applied to the shirt. This means we can find the MOST optimal amount of pretreatment for our pretreat used, the shirt, and ink sets for that particular DTG printer. By analyzing a white block that is printed horizontally across the pretreated Wedge Steps, we can see how the opacity increases. The more pretreatment at a particular ink setting being printed should get more opaque (more white) as it is printed on increasingly more pretreatment. At some point there will be NO increase in opacity between a Wedge Step. This would then indicate the optimal amount of pretreatment for that shirt for that particular pretreatment and DTG printer ink settings.

DO DIFFERENT SHIRTS REALLY AFFECT OUR DTG PRINTS?
We decided to duplicate the Wedge Step Test on 3 different shirts. In this article we are not going to name the specific shirts, but we labeled them Shirt 1, Shirt 2 and Shirt 3. We pretreated each shirt with our Wedge Step Test document on the Viper MAXX (making this test super easy) and then printed on an Epson F2000 a white bar at the default LEVEL 2 setting for white ink and then the maxed out LEVEL 3 white (all without any additional white ink deposited).

Our conclusion is this: YES, THE SHIRT PLAYS A HUGE ROLE IN HOW YOUR DTG PRINTS WILL LOOK. 

You could say that this was already commonly known. But let's take a look at our graphic showing all 3 shirts and the WEDGE STEP TEST with the white bar printed across it. Remember that all factors EXCEPT THE SHIRT were exactly the same. (Clicking on the image above will bring up the full resolution of the image so you can more easily see the differences in pretreatment used).

Please note that on the F2000 the LEVEL 2 was the SINGLE PASS white and the LEVEL 3 was a DOUBLE PASS white. 

With all parameters being the same, you can see the varying amounts of pretreatment from 10-11g on the far left and increasing by 5 grams until we hit 35 grams (for a 14"x14" area) on the right side of the shirt. There is an OBVIOUS difference in how the white looks on the shirts.

First, a single pass of white will not look nearly as well as a double pass of white. However, printing both a single pass and double pass side by side like this allows us to see varying differences and qualities that allow us to select which pretreatment amount and ink settings will yield us the best print FOR A PARTICULAR SHIRT STYLE and COLOR.

It can be seen in our initial print test that there was a HUGE variance in the quality of the white box printed. The worst SHIRT required almost 30-35 grams on the double pass white to look great. The best shirt was somewhere in the 10-15 gram range. This means on the best shirt, SHIRT 3,  that any pretreatment application above 15 grams would have been a waste of material. 

Wedge Step Test for PretreatmentTHE CONCLUSION
The basic conclusion of this test opened many more questions, but revealed one thing. It is that the brand and style of shirt can play a HUGE impact on the final product that you produce. The better shirt was able to get a fantastic print with just 10-15 grams of pretreatment applied (SHIRT 3). The worst of the three shirts required 30-35 grams of pretreatment and still did not give as good a final print (SHIRT 2). This means we would either need to increase the pretreatment amount even more, potentially making the shirt even stiffer than normal and opening the doors to serious discoloration or burning of the shirt, and/or increase the amount of ink applied to achieve the same look as the best print by SHIRT 3. 

This basically means that you might save some money on a cheaper shirt, but you will end up spending more on ink and pretreatment to make the print look better. Less ink, less pretreatment means a softer looking shirt that costs you less BUT still looks great. The interesting thing here was that SHIRT 2, the worst of our three shirts tested, was NOT a cheaper shirt, which we found extremely interesting.

Knowing the results from this test equals more money in your pocket - and hopefully more repeat business from happy customers.

Streamlined DTG Production Utilizing RFID

Streamlined Pretreatment Production via RFID Now Available

In an effort to continually improve the Direct To Garment process i-Group Technologies has always tried to make pretreating easier. The Viper MAXX pretreatment machine is now also RFID capable with the addition of a simple and inexpensive RFID reader that plugs into the USB port of this evolutionary DTG pretreating machine.

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) is a way to communicate quickly and easily information needed to properly set the parameters for a shirt that needs pretreated. i-Group Technologies has been working in conjunction with RTP Apparel on new RFID technology that is now woven into the shirt as a thread - the RFID capabilities become part of the shirt and are completely undetectable. With this RFID capabilities comes the entire ability to pre-set the pretreatment parameters required for that particular garment prior to it ever getting to the pretreating station.

This allows employees running the pretreating department to focus on getting product prepared and sent to the printing department with fewer rejects and higher efficiencies. Obviously this option is best suited for higher volume, on-demand DTG printing facilities. Since all the parameters can be set on the backside via a company's integrated software system, each shirt can be programmed for that specific artwork.Other parameters can be added to the RFID capabilities to allow for ease in packing/shipping and label printing requirements to help reduce data entry errors and streamline the shipping process for the finished goods. 

RTP Apparel also has this functionality available for the Ready To Print DTG shirts which, based on custom orders of product, can be encoded with the artwork to be printed so the DTG printing operator only needs to bring the RFID encoded shirt close to the printer and it will then automatically pull up the graphics and set all the printing parameters. 

This is just another way i-Group Technologies and RTP Apparel are working to help make DTG printing easier and more streamlined. 

For more information please feel free to call 877-673-4378 or email us at info@igrouptech.com.

 

All American Print Supply DTG Mart and Image Armor Try Before You Buy Pretreatment

All American Print Supply and Image Armor Pretreatment TRY BEFORE YOU BUY Free Samples

All American Print Supply DTG Mart and Image Armor Try Before You Buy Pretreatment

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY OFFER!

GET FREE SAMPLES OF IMAGE ARMOR LIGHT AND ULTRA SHIRT FORMULAS

Image Armor is so confident that our DTG Pretreatment Solutions can make a difference in your shop that we are willing to send to you a free sample quart of the LIGHT Shirt and ULTRA Dark Shirt pretreatment formulations. All you have to do is fill out the form below completely and we'll send you some of the DTG Industry's leading pretreatment solutions at NO COST.

All American Print Supply and Image Armor have teamed up to make the offer to you because we know that using and applying the proper pretreatment can make your DTG printing successful. The Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formulation is designed mainly for CMYK only printing on white and light colored garments. It will give you brighter colors, more vibrant details and better wash durability. The ULTRA Dark Shirt Formulation is designed for colored and black garments where white ink is printed giving you incredibly fast white ink gel times and better wash durability with a wider pretreatment application window that most other pretreatments.

Just complete the form below completely and we'll send out your pretreatments as quickly as we can. After you've had a chance to receive the pretreatments and try them out someone will followup with you to see how you liked the Image Armor family of pretreatment products. We know you'll like the ease of use and how it makes your DTG printing more successful and your prints look better - that's why we are doing this FREE offer.

We look forward to helping you grow your DTG business with Image Armor Pretreatment Solutions!

SIGN UP BELOW

Image Armor and GarmentPrinterInc.com FREE Try Before You Buy Pretreatment Program

GarmentPrinterInk.com and Image Armor Pretreatment TRY BEFORE YOU BUY Free Samples

Image Armor and GarmentPrinterInc.com FREE Try Before You Buy Pretreatment Program

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY OFFER!

GET FREE SAMPLES OF IMAGE ARMOR LIGHT AND ULTRA SHIRT FORMULAS

Image Armor is so confident that our DTG Pretreatment Solutions can make a difference in your shop that we are willing to send to you a free sample quart of the LIGHT Shirt and ULTRA Dark Shirt pretreatment formulations. All you have to do is fill out the form below completely and we'll send you some of the DTG Industry's leading pretreatment solutions at NO COST.

GarmentPrinterink.com and Image Armor have teamed up to make the offer to you because we know that using and applying the proper pretreatment can make your DTG printing successful. The Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formulation is designed mainly for CMYK only printing on white and light colored garments. It will give you brighter colors, more vibrant details and better wash durability. The ULTRA Dark Shirt Formulation is designed for colored and black garments where white ink is printed giving you incredibly fast white ink gel times and better wash durability with a wider pretreatment application window that most other pretreatments.

Just complete the form below completely and we'll send out your pretreatments as quickly as we can. After you've had a chance to receive the pretreatments and try them out someone will followup with you to see how you liked the Image Armor family of pretreatment products. We know you'll like the ease of use and how it makes your DTG printing more successful and your prints look better - that's why we are doing this FREE offer.

We look forward to helping you grow your DTG business with Image Armor Pretreatment Solutions!

SIGN UP BELOW

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.