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


50/50 Cotton/Polyester


100% Cotton Fabric


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

Come to Atlantic City to What’s New with Image Armor


The Long Beach ISS is done and gone and we are now looking forward to the March 17th-19th Atlantic City Imprinted Sportswear Show. Make sure to stop by our booth #613 to see how the new Image Armor E-SERIES inks can change your DTG printing business. Also witness the results that our Image Armor LIGHT and ULTRA pretreatments can give your pretreated shirts and improve wash fastness and even allow you to print 100% white polyester with sublimation like effects! We look forward to seeing you there.

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

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

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!


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!

All Polyesters are Not Created Equal


Figure 1 – Three different prints – three different results.


During our routine printing and testing procedures we came across something that we though should be shared with our customers in regards to shirts, pretreatment and inks.

We were printing some white 100% polyester fabric shirts that were pretreated with 16g of the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. The interesting thing was that after we heat set the ink utilizing a cover sheet and light pressure at 356F for 35 seconds, we noticed around all of the printed ink a yellow type haze (See Figure 2).

This really confused us as we have never run into this before. At first we thought we had contaminated the pretreatment, the inks, or it was something completely different that we had done wrong. However, I used the same brand and style of shirt and printed it again. Coming off of the printer the image looked perfect – just as the first shirt did. But instead of heat setting “on contact” I decided to hover cure the ink on the heat press. The platen was lowered as far as possible and then let the shirt “bake”. The resulting image was what we see in the top of Figure 1. There was no “blowout” or yellowing around the printed design but I did notice that in comparison to other shirts that we’ve printed with the same exact design, the blacks were just not as “black” as they should be.

This got me wondering. There must be some type of reaction going on when the pressure and heat are applied to the garment to cure the ink. In comparison to older shirts from the same manufacturer the printed image was completely different in vibrancy and richness of colors. Again, the blacks were not as black as they should have been.


Figure 2 – Closeup of the halo “blowout”

So, we took a different brand of shirt and printed the same exact image, with the same exact printer settings, and the same exact pretreatment amount, and ink cure time and pressure. What you see in the bottom of Figure 1 was a much bolder, darker black and no yellowing around the image. This got me wondering. Something was different and the only difference was the garment.

The interesting difference was the brand and style of the polyester fabrics. When we printed the same image on a 50/50 blended shirt the print result was the same as the bottom of Figure 1 – dark blacks and great colors with no yellow blowout.

This leads me to one conclusion. Some shirts may be post processed, or have some residual chemicals left in the shirt during washing/processing of the fabric that is reacting with the Image Armor LIGHT pretreatment and inks. But ONLY when applied under pressure of the heat press. This can be the only logical conclusion as on other brands of shirts, the design looked darker, more vivid and did not have the yellow halo. The 50/50 shirt we tested under the same conditions was perfect as was the 100% cotton shirt. There must be some type of coating as the black was not as dark or rich as it should have been which resulted in our yellowing haze.

Again, this threw me for a loop as it was the very first time I had ever come across this issue. We just wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention that if you run into something like this with the LIGHT Shirt formula on a cotton, blend, or 100% polyester shirt, this is the most likely explanation (unless the whole pretreated area yellows then it is either contaminated pretreatment OR residual chemicals, etc on the shirt). Image Armor can not control what process is done to the garments at the mill, but you can control what you use and what you find works best. This is why we always encourage users to test before running orders. You have to  know what you’re dealing with before utilizing it in production.

Customer Testimonial – Surf Signs and Designs

Adam from Surf Signs and Designs in Myrtle Beach, SC stopped by our booth at the 2015 Atlanta SGIA to talk to us about what he likes about using the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula with the Brother GT3 garment printer and polyester fabrics.

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 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 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.


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.


100% Polyester Printing with Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula on Brother GT3

Brother-Printer-Jurassic-100-Polyester-SPlit-Shirt-Light_IA-Formula-800px100% Polyester & Pretreating REALLY Does Make A Difference

Maker sure to stop by our booth at the Long Beach Printwear Show July 23-25th, 2015. Image Armor will be in Booth #932 on the end aisle and you can check out this incredible print in person. We printed this on a 100% white polyester shirt and only pretreated the right side of the shirt with Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. The left side was untreated and we then printed the image onto the shirt to show the contrasting difference of printing on our LIGHT Shirt Formula vs untreated 100% polyester.

We think the results speak for itself. And yes, if you have any direct to garment printer be it a Brother, Epson, or re-purposed Epson, you can use our LIGHT SHIRT Formula to get results like this….. it looks almost like sublimation – but off your DTG printer.

We look forward to seeing you at the Long Beach Show!

Why Every Shirt Needs to be Pretreated Video

Video on Why Every Shirt Should be Pretreated – Image Armor LIGHT

We take a short look into why we believe that every shirt should be pretreated and have printed examples to show exactly why that backs this notion. Utilizing the Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula we can make every DTG printed shirt look better, crisper, and improve washability.