Sublimation looking prints on 100% white polyester using Brother DTG inks

Sublimation Like Prints on 100% Polyester With Brother Inks

White Polyester CMYK Ink print with Brother Inkset100% White Polyester Printing on Brother DTG
If you want to get sublimation like prints from your Brother direct to garment printer, it is now possible with Image Armor.We used a Sport-Tek 100% polyester shirt and pretreated with Image Armor (18 grams in this example) and the results were absolutely incredible – rivaling that of sublimation at a fraction of the cost of sublimation.

We did absolutely nothing different in the printing process with this print. As you can see in the image below that the left side was NOT pretreated while the right side was pretreated with Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula. The pretreatment was then heat set with two presses at 330F for 20 seconds each at a light pressure. The light pressure keeps the traditional lines from the paper and heat press from permanently being set into the fabric of the shirt (this is a well known issue with sublimation leaving transfer paper marks and heat press marks in the fabric). The shirt was printed on a GT-541 garment printer with a vivid setting of 3 and then heat set for 35 seconds at 356F. You can see the image below there is a VERY significant different between the left side and the right side. The treated (right) side has a very significant color intensity vibrancy as compared to the straight print on the left side with no pretreatment.

Brother GT Polyester Print split shirt

What this means to you is that if you own a Brother series direct to garment printer you will find that you can seriously expand your sales into the performance fabric market. Obviously you will still need to do some testing as various polyester types may behave differently and perform differently, however the results are well worth the effort.

You can find a dealer for Image Armor near you by checking out our PURCHASE page.

Update 10/31/13: 15 Washes and Drying

Below is a picture of the 100% polyester shirt form above that was printed with a Brother printer using JUST CMYK inks and our Dark Shirt Formula. As you can see, 15 washing and drying cycles and the image still looks almost like the original un-washed version. This definitely gives your sublimation a run as a viable alternative solution.

Image Armor with Brother GT Ink on 100% white polyester fabric

Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula on Pink T-Shirt

Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula Works Well With Many Light Colored Shirts Too

Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula on Pink T-ShirtEveryone has been asking about Image Armor and we wanted to start bringing you some informative articles on using Image Armor.The current formula on the market is Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula. It sounds like it would only be good for use on dark colored shirts, right? Wrong.The image to the left is a District Threads pink cap sleeve t-shirt. We pretreated the shirt with 12 grams of Image Armor pretreatment and heat set with a teflon cover, curing it for 2x 20 second cycles. We found that on our test printer, the color laydown of CMYK (in %) needed to be reduced as it was laying down too much ink. This obviously would be dependent upon your particular printer and testing needing to be done to ensure proper printing.

So, as you can see in the picture, there is minimal, noticeable visual cues as to where the Image Armor was sprayed, and where it was not sprayed. The biggest sign was from the heat press markings – no real discolorations.

What does this mean? Well, Image Armor isn’t necessarily just for Dark shirts. Try different colors, different brands and you might be surprised at how well it works.

Just remember, that there are issues with where the shirts are manufactured. Some locations have “non-ideal’ water supplies and how they process the shirts can affect the pretreatment resulting in discolorations. This will be up to the end user to test and find what works best for them.

Adidas Pre Wash CloseUP

Image Armor Dark Shirt Wash Testing Results

Image Armor Black T-Shirt test print comparison with various grams appliedWe here at Image Armor are constantly trying to improve our products, bring new products to our customers, and help our customers understand the various aspects of pretreating that are often misunderstood.In this article we are going to take a look at the wash fastness of Image Armor and the various amounts of pretreatment applied – and how those affect wash ability.In this test we are utilizing the following settings / items:

  • StarTee Apparel T-Shirt Style #2110. It is a 4.3 oz high thread count, smooth printing surface.
  • ViperONE pretreatment machine
  • Pretreatment: Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula
  • Applied grams for 14″x16″ area: 10g, 13g, 18g, 27g
  • Heat Press: Hix S650
  • Adidas Pre Wash CloseUPPretreatment Cure: High pressure, 330F, 2 x 20 second presses using Kraft Paper
  • Ink Set: Dupont
  • Design: Adidas Coy Fish
  • Underbase: White with black of shirt dropped out for fading effects
  • Single Pass White underbase, then print of CMYK
  • Cure of Ink: 330F / 2 x 90 seconds – registered pressure of 1 on heat press

The Image to the left/above is a photo of the image printed on the shirt, full image, pre-washed. This is our control shirt.

The Image to the right is an extreme closeup of the pre-washed shirt. This shows the incredible detail that direct to garment printing can provide, while showcasing the effectiveness of Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula.

We will be updating this post as we get wash test results after 1 wash, 5 wash, 10 wash, etc.


Adidas Coy Fish 1 WashingThe above picture is after a single washing (all shirts laid next to each other and photographed at the same time – the lighting does give some variation in the shirt/print colors).  The far left image (Original) is the original shirt, unwashed, 18 grams of Image Armor applied. The middle is 10 grams, the right, 27 grams. There was no noticeable color loss or image quality loss on quality. We will be posting close ups at the 5 wash point as well as another photo like the above.

WASHING RESULTS: 2X – 10/15/13
Second washing and drying….. still no noticeable difference. Note, that a good quality shirt will definitely help your wash ability/fastness. We are experimenting with a new shirt (relatively new), the StarTee Apparel #2110 style. Seems to wash really well, and remains soft. Black remains black so far. Will report on this also the more we wash.

WASHING RESULTS: 6X – 10/16/13
Sixth washing and drying….. There was some color loss of maybe about 10% on CMYK colors, which would be relatively standard loss for those colors (and many DTG inks in general – which in this case has a complete white underbase under the image and thus therefore the CMYK ink is not being affected by the application of pretreatment. i.e. the loss of color is due to the nature of the CMYK inks and nothing to do with the pretreatment application). However, the pretreatment and white underbase is holding incredibly well and there are no signs of image breakdown. The 10 gram and 27 gram look exactly the same.

Image Armor Coy Fish 6x Washings


WASHING RESULTS: 10X – 10/16/13
Tenth washing and drying….. The image shows a closeup of the 10 gram and 27 gram side by side comparison (click on image to enlarge). Notice that the whtie underbase is still very much intact and no degradation of the shirt/white ink bonding due to the Image Armor pretreatment. All shirts have been washed with other clothing and shirts under normal conditions (hot/cold water and full heat drying).

Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula 10X Washing Results

WASHING RESULTS: 15X – 10/21/13
Fifteenth washing and drying….. The image below shows the logo with the left side with 10 grams and right side with 27 grams of Image Armor pretreatment on the shirts. This is 15 washes into the test. Click on the image for a larger image.

15x washings with Image Armor



WASHING RESULTS: 26+X – 10/31/13
Twenty Six plus washing and drying….. The image below is a side-by-side of the shirts. As can be seen, the washability still has been great. The right side, is starting to have a little break down in some areas, however I believe I found the reason for this – the ink was only cured at 330F for 180 seconds and not the traditional 350F for 130 seconds for the Dupont ink. Still, the image looks great for having been washed this many times and is still up for more to come.

Image Armor Wash Test 26x

Image Armor Now Available in 5 Gallon Totes

Image Armor Now Available in 5 Gallon Totes

Image Armor Now Available in 5 Gallon TotesImage Armor Dark Shirt Formula is now available in 5 gallon totes (20 liters) for those that do more volume and require more pretreatment to keep their shops printing. Available from all our distributors and ready for shipment, the 5 gallon tote of Image Armor is ready to use right out of the container. No more mixing, no worrying about your water quality affecting the performance of the pretreatment. Just spray, cure, and print.Image Armor 5 Gallon totePlus with Image Armor’s brand new formulation, it is definitely unlike anything else you have tried. A wider application window means you don’t have to apply the “exact” amount to get a good, wash fastness print. More is actually better with Image Armor, so if you are pretreating by hand with a Wagner power sprayer it makes getting a good pretreated shirt a cinch. When in doubt, add a little more…In addition, there’s little to no crystallization when the shirt is heat pressed to cure the pretreatment. Reduce or eliminate that ugly, unsightly pretreatment mark on the shirt prior to printing.Image Armor is ready to help you Protect Your Image. Check out our distributors list to find out where you can purchase it today. Hurry! Our special pricing is only good through October 31st, 2013!

Another Reason Image Armor Makes A Difference

Another Reason Image Armor is Different

Another Reason Image Armor Makes A DifferenceWe wanted to thank EVERYONE who has tried Image Armor and who have come back to us with glowing reports on how it has helped them increase their effectiveness in Direct to Garment white ink printing. From making it easier to apply to a garment and taking the guess work out of  how much to apply – everyone has found white ink DTG printing has become easier with Image Armor. What is the secret to Image Armor’s success?There are many reasons why Image Armor is setting the new standard for white ink DTG pretreating. However, one reason is that we really care about our end customers and the quality products they produce. It is our job to help you Protect Your Image. In helping you produce the best printing – pretreated surface possible, we go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that our entire process is controlled. This control gives the highest quality, purist product we can provide.

A great product begins with a great foundation, and Image Armor pretreatment begins with our state of the art water purification system. We are able to produce an extremely large volume of pure water every day that is free from chemicals and other impurities that can and does affect the final pretreatment mixture. Many other manufacturers don’t go to the extremes that Image Armor does to ensure you get the best product. This is just another reason that makes a difference…

We think like you do. You want to provide your customers with the best possible printed product. We want to provide you,our customers, with the best possible pretreatment solution. Your success is our success.

And we won’t stop working to help you Protect Your Image.

100 Black Polyester 10x washed shirt

Why is Polyester So Hard to Print with DTG?

Black 100% Polyester on Anajet Prior to heat curingThe Holy Grail
In the world of DTG white ink printing, 100% dark polyesters seem to be the Holy Grail. If only we could….In reality, polyester printing is a lot different than printing 100% cotton shirts. Most of the inks on the market today are designed to work with organic, 100% cotton garments. And they work really, really well. This is great if you are just printing 100% cotton. Our Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula (for 100% cotton shirts) has proven to raise the bar by improving wash ability by up to 50% or more while blowing the application window wide open.

Previous pretreatments required you to apply just the right amount on the shirt to get acceptable wash results. Too much and the print looked great, but would wash off quickly once the customer took the garment home. Too little and the white ink was weak and didn’t wash well either. Image Armor has opened this application window gap by completely re-writing the formula for white ink DTG printing. This makes it much easier for newcomers to achieve success with their white ink printing attempts.However, polyester still remains “unattainable”. Even though Image Armor Dark Shirt Formula works well with white 100% polyesters (looks like sublimation and washes as such) and even fairs well on light colored polyester shirts. However, why is it we have issues with darker 100% polyester shirts?

The Reasons
In our testing, we’ve seen incredible results from printing white ink on 100% black polyester shirts. As can be seen in the image to the left, this 100% black polyester shirt looked great on the shirt prior to heat setting. However, after curing the ink the image appeared to fade. In the past, we would have blamed dye migration which is still very much an issue on red or red family dye colored shirts. However, I don’t believe that we can leave all the blame at the feet of dye migration.

Traditionally, white ink would bridge the gap on the shirt and the pretreatment would allow the ink film to stay on top of the shirt as seen in the image below.

100 percent cotton white ink film closeupHere you can easily see where the white ink ends and is sitting on the top of the grey shirt. Also note how tight the weave is for this 100% cotton shirt. This is why you get better prints off of good, high quality ring-spun shirts with a really tight weave and thin thread size. You are basically creating a smooth, flat – think of it as photo glossy paper – surface for the white ink to print on and to which to adhere. The resulting prints are obviously of very high, smooth quality.

Now, let us take a look at a closeup via USB microscope at the polyester shirt. The left image is the original 100% polyester shirt, washed 10 times. You will notice the image does look faded – the white and colors are “muted”. However, take a look at the image to the right. This is a close up of the white print on the 100% black polyester fabric. The “fade”, or color loss, is due to halftoning. This would be similar to what is experienced when you take a 100% white ink film and halftone it 50% – resulting in a “grey” looking print vs a solid bright white (it is after all 50% of the optical brightness). The weave of the fabric is much looser allowing less fabric for the white to totally adhere to creating the illusion of a faded white.

However, the close up reveals much more. The ink is still extremely white and adhering extremely well to the fibers BUT the air gaps in the weave of the fabric (which allows for breathability and is why people like the polyester performance fabrics) leave nothing to which our white DTG inks can “stick”.
100 Black Polyester 10x washed shirt100% Black Polyester White ink CloseUP washed 10X

As can be seen in the image to the right, above, the ink is adhering quite well. However, the open weave of the fabric and due to the nature of polyester, we have a lot of “open” space which allows the black polyester to show through the white printed area effectively fading the actual image vibrancy.

This is part of the reason why we are still having difficulties printing white ink on dark polyester fabrics.

What Does this Mean for DTG Printing in the Future?
What this means is that we still have a ways to go with white ink printing on dark polyester fabrics. However, our goal at Image Armor is to bring you the best possible products. We have already taken 100% polyester printing further than any other company to date. And we have the drive and ideas that we believe will help bring this area of printing to reality.

Image Armor Horizontal Logo 600px

Press release for Image Armor

Image Armor PR Siege Is Underway

Press release for Image Armor

Image Armor is heading into the fall season with a full frontal campaign to let everyone know about our new products that are literally changing the Direct to Garment industry. Here are a couple of screen shots from the digital pages as well as our presence in the industry trade magazines. Our intent is to make sure that every single white ink DTG decorator knows the value of using Image Armor. Help us Protect Your Image. Tell your friends!

Full page advertisement for Image Armor

SGIA Image Armor Give Away

SGIA Image Armor Give Away

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Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Pretreating

Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Pretreatment

Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Pretreating
Forget Everything You Thought You Knew About Pretreatment

Pretreatment in the past has been a huge deterrent for the newcomer to DTG white ink printing. You had to find “the sweet spot” or risk a failure of the print after the garment left your shop. This is not the way to run a business – not knowing if your shirt would fail and deteriorate when the customer washed the shirt.

What I end up telling people is, “Forget everything you thought you knew about pretreatment”. What do I mean by this?

  • In the past, with previous pretreatments, you had to use less pretreatment – and hit a very small window to achieve print wash success. This is extremely difficult when pretreating by hand, using a Wagner power sprayer. Even with an automated application system, though easier, it is still difficult. Image Armor actually allows you to apply more and achieve success with wash-ability. No more worries about applying too much pretreatment and your image washing or flaking off the shirt.
  • The leading brands of pretreatment on the market today are extremely reactive. By this we mean that anything the pretreatment comes into contact with will quickly corrode if it is made of metal. The picture above shows the inside of an aluminum pressure container. Each new aluminum container had pretreatment put into it, sealed up and let sit for one week. As you can see, Leading Brand X and Y shows a corrosive line and scaling on the side of the pressure container where the pretreatment sat idle for 7 days. The Image Armor left virtually no mark. The brass stem from the pressure container showed even more reaction with the pretreatments in Brand X and Y vs. Image Armor. What does this mean for the end user? Image Armor is less corrosive and easier on your equipment, making it last longer, less work on clean up, and less clogging of nozzles.
  • Crystallization has always been an issue with the leading brands of pretreatment. When heat is applied to “cure” or dry the pretreatment, crystals would appear in the shirt, leaving marks that were unsightly, making the shirt look less sellable. Image Armor reduces or eliminates this issues giving you a better pretreated shirt with little to no visible marking due to the pretreatment cure process. Just make sure to remove the Kraft paper or parchment paper immediately after the heat press is lifted or you can still get some crystallization from the steam being trapped on the surface of the garment under the paper and then returning to a liquid state…
  • Image Armor is a new formula – not a repackage of the current pretreatments on the market. It is mixed right here in America, made right here in America, and we take great pride in leading the world in helping advance the direct to garment printing industry in regards to this advancement in pretreatment technology.

Don’t assume that Image Armor is just one of the leading brands re-packaged. It is not. Anyone who has used it realizes that after the first shirt is pretreated and printed. When washed, the real results are seen. We are proud to be able to bring this technology to the DTG industry and are excited to help our customers Protect Their Image.

Front Page Image Armor Assasins Creed

A Special Thank You to Everyone Who Helped Make Our Launch A Success

Front Page Image Armor Assasins Creed

Everyone at Image Armor would like to thank each and every person who helped make the launch of Image Armor Pretreatment Solutions a great success. We have been working feverishly to bring forth a new product to the DTG printing industry and with the help of everyone, the success has only begun.

Our mission is to advance the white ink direct to garment printing industry. Before today, if we are honest, white ink durability was not where it really needed to be – or what most people expected. We are proud to say the Image Armor has raised the bar of what CAN be expected from white ink DTG printers. Our end users can now expect to have one less variable to worry about during the decorating process. That’s our goal. Make the process as simple and as easy as possible so the business owner can focus on what they need to do – building their business.

I personally wanted to thank our entire network of beta-testers who were able to keep this quiet and out of the eye of the public until just recently. You were instrumental in helping us achieve a momentous day today.

I finally wanted to thank my entire staff, friends and family too. The Image Armor staff has greatly stepped up to the plate keeping the end vision in mind and giving me the time and tools to achieve something that not many have been able to achieve up to this point.

Thank you to my many friends…who supported and gave great input when needed. You know who you are.

And to my family and wife…who can’t wait for me to stop talking about Image Armor….(she has a long ways to go on that one especially since we have much more in the pipeline coming )

So, find out what all the buzz is about. Get some Image Armor for your DTG printer and start Protecting Your Image today.


Brian Walker
Image Armor