2nd Business Day of Christmas and Image Armor Gave To Me

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12-Business-Days-of-Christmas-1On the Second Business Day of Christmas Image Armor Gave to…….. John from Cleveland, Ohio.

Today’s Selectee was John from Cleveland, Ohio.  John, though shy and didn’t want to have his information posted,  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.

Only two days of Christmas have passed and there’s still time for you to enter and have a chance to be selected to receive a conversion kit for free. Just ask Kenan from yesterday – you DO have a chance to be chosen. 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 10 Business Days of Christmas left!

Name of the Day – 1st Business Day of Christmas Begins

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12-Business-Days-of-Christmas-Selectee---Day-1---Kenan-CanalesIt’s December 9th and the 1st Business Day of Christmas in our Christmas Give-Away!

Today’s Selectee was Kenan Canales of Excelsior! Digital Apparel in N. Kansas City Missouri.  Kenan 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.

There’s still time for you to enter and have a chance to be selected to receive a conversion kit for free. It’s just our way of spreading some holiday business cheer. 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 11 Business Days of Christmas left!

 

Image Armor Christmas Ink Give Away

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It’s the 12 Business Days of Christmas Give Away!

Image Armor is going to be giving away 12 complete change over kits of our popular E-SERIES inks starting December 9th, 2015!

That’s right – giving away complete ink change over kits…. It’s our way of saying Merry Christmas to twelve lucky people!

So , if you’ve been thinking about changing over to Image Armor but haven’t had the time, or have just been waiting, now is the time to make the jump! Selected individuals will be chosen to receive a complete change over kit. It’s our way of saying MERRY CHRISTMAS!

This kit will include 1 liter of E-SERIES white ink, 1 liter each CMYK, 1 gallon of ULTRA dark shirt pretreatment for white inks, and a 1 liter of our Image Armor CLEANING Solution to flush out your old inks. Everything you need to start using our inks if you use a bulk ink system (this is the only way we are giving away our inks is in bulk – no bag systems – sorry).

One lucky individual per day will be selected and revealed starting December 9th, 2015 and a new one selected each business day thereafter until December 24th, 2015.  The earlier you enter, the more opportunity you have to be selected – so don’t wait until the 23rd of December….. that just means you missed the previous 11 gifts given!

HOW DO YOU QUALIFY?

To be eligible you must meet the following:

  • Have a legitimate DTG business and web site – we verify both or you might end up on the NAUGHTY list.
  • Have never used Image Armor E-SERIES ink – but want to try them at NO COST (again – liars end up on the NAUGHTY list)
  • Must send us last 3 copies of invoices showing the “competitors” inks you’ve purchased (prior to November 26th, 2015)
  • Must send a picture of you and your DTG printer in your shop. You don’t have to wear a Santa hat – but it makes it more fun! And, with the winners permission we will be posting pictures daily of our winners!
  • You must reside and have your business in the United States.
  • Fill out and send in the form below.

We will be selecting individuals from our list of recipients, and your chances of being selected depend on how many people sign up. This is NOT a contest, but do sign up early to have more chances to be selected! If you’ve been thinking about switching to Image Armor, take a chance on being able to do it between Christmas and New Year’s this holiday season.

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What Happens If I Don’t Cure the Ink Completely?

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Figure 1: After Washing: Properly cured ink and ink that wasn’t fully cured.

We wanted to show everyone how important it is to ensure that your DTG ink is properly cured. Figure 1 shows two different shirts with the same image printed. The garment is a 100% black polyester fabric with the Image Armor E-SERIES inks. This picture is after just one wash and dry cycle.

In this case we were testing hover curing and wanted to show exactly what happens with a properly cured in film and one that was only partially cured. The left shirt was hover cured much longer than the shirt on the right. As you can see, the partially cured ink caused ink failure after just the first wash. Uncured ink will not wash well. It will start to flake off and the image will degrade very quickly with subsequent washes.

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Figure 2: This is a closeup of uncured ink that has been washed. The durability of uncured ink is greatly diminished and will result in almost instantaneous ink film failure when washed.

Figure 2 is a closeup of the under cured ink. Under cured ink does not have the wash characteristics of durability that properly cured ink produces.Typically with Image Armor inks you need to cure at 356F for 35 seconds on cotton and blended shirts. On polyester fabrics that time and temperature can possibly cause dye migration and a discoloration of the white ink from the dyes in the fabric. The ink can be cured at slightly lower temperatures, however the time under heat usually will increase with the amount of ink applied – it is a balance of getting the entire ink film to temperature (above 315F, removing the moisture – a balance of time and temperature – and to a point, pressure if a heat press is used).

 

The point of this article is to show you the tell tale signs of uncured or under cured ink. It is of the highest importance that you need to ensure that all moisture from the ink film is removed and the entire ink film reaches cure temperature. Make sure, especially if you are trying to print 100% black polyester fabrics, that you do your testing prior to running any production runs. Proper testing, printing, and washing on fabrics like black polyester will help bring your shop to the front edge of what is possible with DTG white ink printing.

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

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TIP #1: PRETREATING AND CURING THE PRETREATMENT FOR 100% BLACK POLYESTER PRINTING

  • 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.

If You’re Using A DTG IV Ink Bag System You Must Read This

DTG IV Bag SystemMany DTG printers today are utilizing what can easily be called the DTG IV Bag Ink System. That is because if you have ever been to a hospital and been hooked up to one, you know it looks exactly like an intravenous drip system used to administer drugs into a patient. In this case, that patient is the DTG printer.

These type of ink deliver systems are great to help gravity feed your print, but they can cause issues because it is often easier to “forget” the inks are there and never touch it again until the ink runs out. This will cause you more headaches than you want, but the headaches are easily avoidable.

If you do utilize this type of ink delivery system, follow these simple Tips.

TIP #1: Before hanging the bag, make sure to agitate and mix the white ink well to ensure it is entirely mixed up. You can easily see if it is homogeneously mixed.

TIP #2: DO NOT LEAVE THE BAG HANGING OVERNIGHT! When you are done printing for the day, take the white ink bags down and lay them on their side. The reason for this is that the Image Armor E-SERIES inks do separate faster than Dupont, but that’s by design. What we are seeing is that most people hang the bags and forget about them and DO NOT MIX the white ink after hanging. Since the inks can separate, the heavier particulates that make up the white ink will sink to the bottom and into the IV lines easier. These “heavier” ink solutions can then be pulled into the print heads and dampers causing head failures. NEVER, EVER LEAVE WHITE INK BAGS HANG OVERNIGHT OR OVER THE WEEKEND IF YOU ARE NOT PRINTING. Removing them will cause you to be reminded to mix the ink in the bags prior to hanging them back on your IV stand/hooks.

TIP #3: Never re-use an ink bag. Many people buy bulk ink and want to re-fill their own bags. Image Armor does not recommend this as it can lead to multiple problems. Residual white ink in the bags can cause series issues within the DTG printing system as it might not be fresh, of the right “mix”, etc. It is NOT recommended to ever re-use an IV bag. ALWAYS USE A FRESH BAG WITH FRESH INK.

IN CONCLUSION:

We want to ensure that our users have the most issue free, easy to use inks on the market. Following these simple steps above will help us all achieve that goal. Remember – if you’re printing, hang the bags, if not, take them down.

How To Improve Your DTG Prints On 50/50 Garments

Jerzees-29M-50-50-Printed-not-PrintedIt’s fun for us to do the trade shows circuit with the Image Armor products. We often get DTG printers who stop by our booth and have never tried any of the Image Armor pretreatments. When they see what our pretreatments are capable of letting them achieve, they start to get excited.

One such example is pretreating all of your white and light colored 50/50 garments with our LIGHT Shirt Formula. Why? As can be seen in the image to the left (click to enlarge) just simply pretreating the blended shirt will allow you to achieve much richer colors, blacker blacks, and an increased image detail that will help take your prints to the next level – one you’ll be proud to offer to your customers.

Some reason that they can just do a double print to up the black intensity and color vibrancy. The problem there is that while it might help improve the image quality a little bit, you’re doubling your ink cost AND wash fastness will be even worse. There’s only so much ink that can “hold” to the garment. The LIGHT Shirt formula works to increase wash durability on 50/50’s so that over the long haul you have a better looking shirt that lasts longer.

The great thing with our LIGHT Shirt Formula is that it works with pretty much every CMYK ink set on the market today. This means if you have an older Brother GT-541 or 782 printer you can make it look like a new printer. Your reds, which on those printers actually was more of a muted red, will be enhanced to the point you’ll want to print more shirts on your DTG printer.

All DTG printers will find that they can achieve better results using the LIGHT Shirt Formula. Give it a try. Adam from Surf Signs and Designs uses it with his Brother GT-3 garment printer for all of his CMYK printing. Watch his video testimonial from an actual user!

Image Armor Now Available in Southern Poland and Surrounding Countries

Capricorn-Poland-Store-FrontImage Armor announces that Capricorn of Piekoszów, Poland is the newest Image Armor dealer. Capricorn, located in Southern Poland, is a full service DTG printer and consumable supplier and carries a complete line of the Image Armor E-SERIES inks and pretreatment solutions. For DTG printers in Poland interested in learning more about our Image Armor Inks and pretreatments or would like to convert their current DTG printer to Image Armor products, visit Capricorn online at www.capricorn.biz.pl or by calling 41 30 61 545.

What Happens When You Heat Press Pretreatment and Ink or Hover Cure

Pretreatment-Ink-Press-Hover-Cure-Comparison-UsedTo help people understand some of the variables with different pretreatment and ink curing options, we wanted to do a side-by-side comparison to show what happens with the Image Armor E-SERIES™ DTG Inks and pretreatments. All the printing parameters and pretreatment application settings were the same for each print. The only difference was how the pretreatment and inks were cured – either with pressure and contact or using a hover with “no contact”.

In the image to the left we we show three different pretreating and ink curing scenarios.

The TOP:
The top process in our picture is as follows:

  • Pretreatment Cure: 80 psi heat press cure with parchment paper while PT is wet.
  • Ink Cure: Hover cure ink with no contact with the ink surface.

Results Observed: Because we were able to press the pretreatment while wet, we were able to trap the fibers so they were flatter against the shirt. This allowed for a nice smooth white ink layer. The reds were still very bright and visibly appears to be the brightest red of the three procedures. The surface of the CMYK/White ink had much more of a screen printed look and feel – i.e. it was “textured”. The surface texture was a little rougher due to no pressure from the heat press smoothing out the ink film. Plus, if you look at the close-up you can see the weave of the shirt in the DTG ink film thus giving it the look of the screen mesh in the ink film just as you would get with a good, high-end screen print.

The MIDDLE:
The middle process in our picture is as follows:

  • Pretreatment Cure: Hover “dried” the wet pretreatment and THEN used the heat press @ 80 psi for 15 seconds to flatten fibers of the shirt prior to printing.
  • Ink Cure: Hover cure ink with no contact with the ink surface.

Results Observed: Due to the fact that we did not “trap” the shirt fibers down (laying flat on the shirt) while they were wet, this print results in a much higher degree of loose fibers and a much higher/rougher surface for the white ink and color print. The white ink was not nearly as bright optically but was still very good (a result of a rougher printing surface for the white ink). The colors, especially the red was not as bright due to the fact that the white ink soaked into the shirt a little bit more (more loose fibers) and so not as smooth as a printing surface. The over all hand and feel of the print was the roughest of all three prints, which some might find attractive for a finished print.

The BOTTOM:
The bottom process in our picture is as follows:

  • Pretreatment Cure: Used the heat press @ 80 psi for 15 seconds to flatten fibers of the shirt prior to printing – repeated twice to ensure it was totally dry.
  • Ink Cure: Parchment paper – light pressure cured 35 seconds @ 356F.

Results Observed: Because we pressed the pretreatment while wet, this gave us the smoothest printing surface as the wet pretreatment was cured and thus trapping the fibers “flat” on the garment. In addition, the final DTG print was heat pressed with light pressure and a cover sheet thus smoothing the entire ink film. Though the pressure of the ink slightly pressed the CMYK ink into the white ink film, the difference is barely visibly in comparison to the TOP version where the ink film was just hover cured – though still very bight and intense as far as the red is concerned. This process resulted in the smoothest feeling print on the shirt. Some would say it would look or feel more like a transfer due to the sheer smoothness of the finished ink film print.

OVERALL OBSERVATIONS:

What can we say? It depends on what effect you are trying to achieve on your final DTG print. I would consider the best looking and feeling print the TOP version with the pretreatment pressed but the ink layer hover cured. This is obviously a personal opinion. The issue with this process is the cure time on a heat press. The time will be MUCH longer than actually doing the 35 second cure by touching the heat press platen onto the ink film and using slight pressure (resulting in a smoother surface but a true 35 second cure time). You’d have to do multiple tests to find the right time and temperature to ensure a complete cure of the inks to ensure maximum wash durability.

You might want to try a couple variations on this to see what you like best. Running the shirt down a conveyor dryer to cure the ink would be the most optimal as far as “production” is concerned, however most DTG printers do not have the space or equipment to cure in this fashion. This process though provides the best facsimile of a screen printed shirt, but using a dryer you will definitely need to ensure the entire ink film is cured (not over baked) and wash tests to confirm the best, optimal settings to ensure a durable print. Due to the many variables we can not give much in terms of guidance other than the fact that you’d have to do a fair number of tests with different times and temperatures to find the magic combination for your equipment.

Many users will still find that using the heat press to cure the pretreatment and ink with the “on contact” method will still be the fastest and most secure way to ensure a smooth, bright print that is properly cured in 35 seconds.

So, don’t be afraid to experiment a little and expand your knowledge base with your printer and inks. You might find something you and your customers like better and it will give you a better understanding of your entire DTG process.

 

Image Armor Customer Testimonial – Git Branded

We wanted to thank everyone who stopped by our booth in Ft. Worth at the 2015 Imprinted Sportswear Show to talk to us about the Image Armor Inks and Pretreatments. A big thanks to George Git from Git Branded who talks about his experience with Image Armor in his printer.