Are Your Inks and Pretreatments Safe for Kids?

CPSIA-Tested-and-Compliant-Inks-and-PT-Collection-600pxImage Armor is committed to bringing you the best and safest products. This is why we ask – Do you know what’s in your inks and pretreatments?

If you are printing DTG products for children 12 years old or younger, you may or may not be aware of the Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008. The products need to be certified that they are safe for children, but what does this really mean?

Basically, CPSIA “Certification means the issuance of a written Children’s Product Certificate in which the manufacturer, importer, or private labeler certifies that its children’s product complies with all applicable children’s product safety rules.”. Our entire line of pretreatments and E-SERIES inks have been tested for lead and soluble heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic, mercury, etc. and were found to be in compliance with the 2008 federal act.  This is a distinction that some other ink and pretreatment manufacturers can not claim.

So, if you are printing shirts for children under the age of 12, the entire Image Armor line of products is compliant and will help keep your products safe for children when used as directed.

The CPSIA compliance was something that Image Armor wanted to do for oRoHS-Compliant-Logour customers as a proactive stance. We believe it was in our customer’s best interest to be able to show that the components we use to manufacture our products can be used to help create a finished product that are safe for kids when used in conjunction with CPSIA tested garments.

The entire Image Armor line of products was also tested and is RoHS compliant. RoHS certification ensures that the Image Armor products do not exceed the limits allowed for the substances banned under RoHS, which include lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), hexavalent chromium (CrVI), polybrominated biphenyls (PBB), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), and four different phthalates (DEHP, BBP, BBP, DIBP).

So, the real question is… What’s in your pretreatment and inks?

DTG Tip – Making Your DTG Print Look Like It Is Screen Printed With Halftones

Screen Printing halftone DTG Closeup

DTG Tip – Making Your DTG Print Look Like It Is Screen Printed With Halftones

Many high end screen prints are done using halftones. Halftones are basically different sized dots of different colors that are placed in close proximity to each other to give the effect of a multitude of colors thus reproducing your graphic in full color. Your inkjet printer does the same basic thing but with really, really tiny ink droplets. When you screen print, you are limited to how small the dots can go before you can not screen print them. This is because the screen that has the image “template” on it can only hold a dot down to a certain size. With inkjet, the dots are extremely tiny which is why we can get a lot higher resolution and tighter, better looking images.

If you really want to make your DTG print look like a high end screen print it is really easy to do and can be done relatively quickly in Photoshop with a couple of clicks of your mouse.

How Do I Make Halftones In Photoshop?

To convert your image into “halftones” in Photoshop, follow these simple steps.

  1. Load in your graphic and select the layer you want to “convert” to halftones. Go to Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone
    Screenprinting-halftoning-in-Photoshop
  2. You will then see a pop-up screen that looks like below:
    Screen-Printing-Halfton-Setup-for-DTG
  3. The Max Radius is the “size” of the halftone dot. For bigger dots, make the number higher. For smaller halftone dots, reduce it. 4 is the size of our sample image. We have found that 8 will give a larger halftone dot, the image will be more “grainy” but the image will be smoother with no interference on the screen angles.
  4. Set the “screen angle” for Channels 1-4. These set the angles for the individual colors CMYK. Just as in screen printing you can see moire. Moire is a “pattern” due to the interaction, proximity, and angles of each of the colors. Screen printers run into this issue all the time. It will result in a horrible looking print. You may need to experiment a little with the angles based on your Max. Radius Size. You can use the above settings to give you a start.
  5. Print your DTG image. Our example looks like the following.
    Screen-Printing-halftone-DTG-Closeup

As you can see, the close up looks very similar to a high end halftone screen printed design. By playing around with the settings and angles, you will be able to achieve a variety of looks that suit the effect you are trying to achieve.

To really add the touch to your DTG print to make it look like it was officially screen printed do not use your heat transfer press to cure the ink. This will “flatten” the dots in the image. Traditionally screen printed shirts have a “feel” or hand to the final print. Due to the texture of the shirt and how the inks are jetted by your DTG machine, using a conveyor dryer will help you achieve that look and feel also adding more realism to your Screen Printed DTG shirt.

Have fund and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

DTG Tip – Blur the Lines Between Screen Printing and DTG

Closeup-DTG-Tip-SkullDTG Tip – Blur the Lines Between Screen Printing and DTG

Due to the advances in pretreatment and ink technologies over the past year we have been able to blur the line between screen printing and DTG to the point where the untrained eye might not be able to tell the difference between the two processes.

The key tip to achieve the “screen print” look would be to NOT use a heat press when curing the inks. The heat press will “flatten” or really smooth the printed ink surface. It is not that this looks “bad”, and some prefer it, but if you are trying to achieve the screen print look, try hovering just millimeters above the finished print with your heat press. You will definitely need to increase the exposure time to the heat to ensure that it is cured correctly (always test before doing this for end customers) or you might not get the ink cured and the customers returning shirts.

However, when done correctly, the ink surface will have a texture “feel” to the ink surface, simulating screen printing. In addition, utilizing the Image Armor new E-SERIES DTG inks increases the wash durability and wash fastness of the finished prints. Plus, you get incredible stretch characteristics that help keep the image looking better long term wash after wash.

 

MESA Supplies now selling Image Armor DTG E-SERIES Inks

MESA Supplies Now Carrying Image Armor Inks and Pretreatments

MESA Supplies now selling Image Armor DTG E-SERIES Inks

MESA Supplies NOW Carrying Image Armor E-SERIES Inks

Image Armor is proud to announce that MESA Supplies of Fort Worth, TX is now carrying the Image Armor E-SERIES inks and pretreatments.

MESA is a direct distributor of apparel decorating supplies and accessories, specializing in DTG and is located in the Southwest United States. This allows for more customers to achieve next day shipping on DTG inks and pretreatments for all those last minute needs.

Image Armor inks can help take your Direct To Garment business to the next level with an incredible 35 second white ink cure time, better wash fastness and white ink "stretchiness". These factors result in a much higher quality end print. When used in conjunction with the Image Armor pretreatments, the DTG printing business just got closer to achieving screen printing quality from a digital printer.

MESA can be contacted by calling 800-330-3867 and pressing Option 3 or by visiting their website at www.mesasupplies.com.

 

What Pretreating Can Do For You Even on White

We often hear at every trade show people asking why they would want to pretreat a garment that only has CMYK printed on the garment. Most of the time the comment is that they've been told they do not need to pretreat a white shirt. While this statement is true, it is often misunderstood how pretreating the garment can actually improve the quality of your finished product.  

We decided to show you three different shirts, each a split print. The left side of the garment has no pretreatment while the right side is pretreated with our Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. The printed image effectively shows the difference you can achieve when pretreating - or what you get when you do not pretreat. We did this on three different types of fabrics commonly printed - one of being 100% polyester which many people do not know they can decorate with DTG if properly pretreated.

On the left below is a 100% white polyester garment. The middle image is a standard 50/50 white t-shirt, and the right image is a 100% cotton white garment. By clicking on the individual images you will be able to enlarge the image to take a closer look at the contrast between untreated and pre-treated garments. You will be able to see exactly what you can expect on each garment when utilizing the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula on your garments. 

100% Polyester Fabric

split-pretreatment-shirt-100-polyester-large

50/50 Cotton/Polyester

split-pretreatment-shirt-50-50-large

100% Cotton Fabric

split-pretreatment-shirt-100-cotton-large

You can find an Image Armor dealer near you by visiting our Purchase page.

How Does DTG Printed Polyester Wash?

IA-ULTRA-and-LIGHT-Front-Mirrored-OriginalWe often get the question about our DTG pretreatments and 100% polyester printing in regards to how well the printed shirts hold up in the wash. Typically non-pretreated polyester fabrics will results in very poor quality prints that are fuzzy and do not wash well. However, when properly pretreated with the correct pretreatment you can achieve sublimation like looking DTG prints.

An interesting aspect of this article is that we utilized 100% white polyester garments pretreated with both the LIGHT Shirt formula as well as the ULTRA Dark Shirt Formula. Normally we would never utilize the ULTRA on a white or light colored garment as the pretreatment would yellow the shirt when heat is applied. However, we’ve discovered it appears that this is only in garments that have natural fibers in the fabric. On fabrics that have 100% polyester content we have achieved great results with both the LIGHT and ULTRA pretreatments. We do however still encourage all users to do testing prior to any production run to ensure they are achieving the results they desire.

100-Polyester-15-plus-washes-comparison

Click on Image to view Enlarged Photo

This option of using either LIGHT or ULTRA pretreatment will ultimately open up additional avenues of printable garments for the DTG decorator. It will allow the choice of using either the LIGHT Shirt Formula or the ULTRA Shirt Formula. In our test we applied 18 grams of pretreatment to the Sport-tek ST350 white 100% polyester shirt and heat cured that pretreatment for 35 seconds at 330F. The shirts were printed with our Image Armor E-SERIES DTG inks though we have also successfully achieved the same results with other ink sets. The E-SERIES inks were then cured via heat press for 35 seconds at 356F with light pressure.

As can be seen in the photo (click on the side-by-side comparison for a much larger version) there was minimal loss of actual color after 15+ washes of the garment. These were washed with Tide detergent with hot water and then dried on the hot setting.

So, if you want to achieve sublimation like prints with your DTG printer and do not have a sublimation system in your shop, try utilizing the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula or ULTRA pretreatments to increase your DTG offerings to your customers. Now you can achieve great wash results with your direct-to-garment printer on 100% white polyester fabrics without the fear of them washing our or looking blurry.

You can find an Image Armor dealer near you by visiting our Purchase page.

Keep Your DTG Printer Warm and Happy This Winter

Humidity-GuageIf you live in a part of the Unite States where it gets cold and snows, a warm and comfy home is a nice place to be. You need to take that same stance with your DTG printer but keeping it warm is just one part of the successful equation.

When the gas furnace kicks on in the winter, the humidity levels quickly drop in our homes and places of business. Natural gas has a tendency to really dry the air out. It doesn’t take long for the humidity levels to quickly drop to what is commonly found in the Southwest most of the year. Humidity levels below 35% can really start to cause problems with your DTG machine. Get into the 20% and lower and you’re asking for serious printer issues.

It really doesn’t take much to help keep you and your DTG printer happy during these dry, winter months. First you will want to pick up a temperature/humidity gauge similar to the one in the picture in this article. They are relatively inexpensive and help give you the tools to know what is going on with your DTG printing room. They typically show the temperature and humidity levels. Check out this link on Amazon for one that will easily fit on top of your DTG printer.

If you are not sure what humidity level you should keep in your printing room, ask your DTG manufacturer. Most will give a level range of say 35%-80% humidity. Typically, you can help ensure a safe humidity level if you try to keep it around 50% humidity. This will not only keep your DTG printer happy, but you also. The more humidity – the warmer it will feel in the room.

Unless you have a humidifier located on your furnace, you’ll have to utilize a whole room stand alone humidifier. You can find these at your local home depot type store or on Amazon. A good example of something you can get to take care of a DTG printing room would be something like this. Look around but plan on spending around $100 or more.

The temperature should also be stabilized. This is where a climate control system comes into play. You don’t want to have your DTG room hover in the 50’s over night and then you try to come in early in the morning and turn the heat on to start a day of printing. The ink in the printer and lines will end up being much cooler and take longer to warm up than the ambient temperature in your printing area. Cooler ink will be less likely to flow as nicely as warm ink and can result in lost nozzles and bad prints. The best thing is to try to maintain a constant temperature when you know you’ll be printing or a range of comfortable room temperatures over the winter. Use common sense – don’t go from the low 50’s when you’re not there to low 70’s early Monday morning and try to start printing immediately. If you keep it a constant temperature, you know you’ll always be ready to print.

Keeping an eye on the temperature and humidity levels and making sure they are within recommended levels will take one variable out of the DTG printing mix this winter. This will enable you to focus on what you really need to be doing – printing and making money.

iPrint Shirts Gets a Visit From Santa Early on the 4th Business Day of Christmas

2015-Header---12-Business-Days-of-Christmas
jaxscreenprint-12-days-selecteeMerry Christmas iPrint Shirts! It’s December 14th and the 4th Business Day of Christmas in our Christmas Give-Away!

Today’s Selectee was Anton Wiranata of iPrint Shirts located in Jacksonville, FL.  Anton will be receiving a complete Image Armor Ink and Pretreatment change over kit containing a Liter of each our E-Series DTG inks (white and CMYK) as well as Cleaning Solution and a gallon of ULTRA Pretreatment. This will ship out to him after the holidays so he can make good use of the slow time after Christmas.

Even though it is only a little over a week away from Christmas it is definitely still not too late to have a chance to be selected to receive a conversion kit. I’ve been accused of being Buddy the Elf and bringing holiday cheer to the DTG industry. You can still visit our SIGN UP page to get your name thrown into the hat to be on Santa’s NICE list this year. You have until December 23rd to sign up. There’s no obligation to submit your picture. You can even request to be anonymous if you win (we understand…) – but we want you to help spread some holiday cheer. So spread the word….. there are still 8 Business Days of Christmas left!

On the Third Business Day of Christmas Image Armor Gave to

2015-Header---12-Business-Days-of-Christmas
shirtsfor5It’s December 11th and the 3st Business Day of Christmas in our Christmas Give-Away!

Today’s Selectee was Bryan Hewitt of ShirtsFor5 located in Chesterfield, NJ.  Bryan will be receiving a complete Image Armor Ink and Pretreatment change over kit containing a Liter of each our E-Series DTG inks (white and CMYK) as well as Cleaning Solution and a gallon of ULTRA Pretreatment. This will ship out to him after the holidays so he can make good use of the slow time after Christmas.

It is definitely still not too late to have a chance to be selected to receive a conversion kit for free. We are enjoying playing Santa and bringing holiday cheer to the DTG industry. Visit our SIGN UP page to get your name thrown into the hat to be on Santa’s NICE list this year. You have until December 23rd to sign up. There’s no obligation to submit your picture. You can even request to be anonymous if you win (we know some people are shy) – but we want to help spread some holiday cheer. So spread the word….. there are still 9 Business Days of Christmas left!