RTP Apparel Utilizing Image Armor Technology with the New M&R Maverick DTG Printer is a Production Machine

There were some exciting new developments that were unveiled at the 2019 Printing United (formerly known as SGIA) in Dallas during the October 23rd-25th 2019 show. M&R showcased their newest Direct To Garment printer the Maverick. This new DTG printer had some very unique and new additions that would appear to help propel direct to garment printing to higher productivity outputs. The addition to heat presses in the printer to “prepress” the shirts prior to printing as well as what appeared to be quartz heating elements on either side of the print head carriage helped add to the production capabilities of this unique printer.

When RTP Apparel was added to the mix, the Maverick became a real production output machine. RTP Apparel requires NO PRETREATING but should be heat pressed prior to printing. Since the new M&R Maverick does this in the machine for a few seconds prior to printing, true PICK PRINT CURE productivity in DTG can now be achieved. 

As of the time of this blog article, there were no direct information on the new Maverick available on the web. But, the short video below definitely gives an idea of how this machine can be used in DTG to benefit certain shops by streamlining the entire production process.

 

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.

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!

100% Polyester Printing and White Ink

Web-Header-1160x360-100-Percent-Polyester-Printing-2Sport-Tech 100 Poly Gold Shirt on heat press

Image Armor Has Done it Again

100% Polyester Printing with Regular Dupont Inks

Doing the IMPOSSIBLE is what we’ve always strived to bring to our customers. Products that improve the DTG printing experience is what drives us to constantly improve the direct to garment printing process. Up until today, polyester printing with DTG has been limited to CMYK only on light or white colored polyester shirts.

However, in our constant pursuit of perfection, we’ve taken another step closer to the holy grail of DTG printing – white inks on black polyester fabrics. WE’RE NOT THERE YET, but the results of our process speaks volumes about the direction of the DTG market.

Utilizing our existing Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formula, we have been able to achieve commercially acceptable white ink prints on mid-colored polyester fabrics. The process is relatively straight forward, but we are expecting the RIP manufacturers to follow suit to give end users this ability from within the RIP itself to make it much easier to accomplish. Currently we have to do a little “workaround” to make the magic happen.

STEP 1: Pretreat the Shirt

Pretreat the shirt using Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. We utilized the Sport-Tek ST350 series 100% poly performance shirt (more on this in a minute) and applied 24 grams of pretreatment on the polyester shirt. The PT was then cured at 330F for two 20 second presses utilizing brown KRAFT type paper. I would not recommend using teflon as it will definitely shine up the shirt too much. The platen was raised to allow steam to escape and create a much more thorough and dry cure in between presses. We utilized a Stahl’s Hotronix Air Fusion heat press with 70 psi. A little experimentation might find that slightly more PT may help.

A NOTE ABOUT POLYESTER SHIRTS: We must note here at this point that some polyester shirts are better than others for printing. We did not some discoloration of the polyester fabric on the yellows and greys with the Sport-Tek ST350’s (it was not massive but some might find it unacceptable). However, we’ve seen some others that do not discolor. Sometimes this discoloration comes out in the wash, other times it does not.  You’ll need to do some research on what polyester brand and shirts work best for your shop.

STEP 2: The UNDERBASE is Key

100-Percent-Polyester-WashedPrinting the under base is key to getting these polyester shirts with white ink to print correctly. Normally some RIPs will print a solid under base of white under the entire design on a gold shirt like in our example above. However, for technical reasons you will get poor results if you do that with this process.

What you need to do is act as though you are printing the design (specifically the under base) on a black shirt. If your RIP allows you to utilize the black of the shirt color for the black in the printed design, then the RIP will not print any white ink where black is in the design  (the shirt would be the black ink of the design). This process generally creates awesome fades on the DTG prints. This is also exactly what we want for our mid and light colored polyester shirts as far as the under base.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but black ink does not technically need an under base beneath it to look good on any shirt. You can see on our grey shirt to the right, what this white under base looks like when printed. Notice where black would be in the image there is NO white under base – this is extremely important. FAILURE TO ENSURE THE BLACK DOES NOT HAVE ANY WHITE UNDERBASE UNDER IT WILL RESULT IN A LESS THAN DESIRABLE FINAL PRINT ON POLYESTER FABRICS.

Note, your RIP must allow you to ONLY PRINT this under base. You DO NOT want to print the CMYK associated with this RIP’d design. Why? Again, we are not printing on a BLACK shirt. That’s why. So, you must be able to separately print the under base from the CMYK.

It might be noted at this time that the more white ink your printer can put down at this stage is crucial. Set it to a maximum amount of white ink. If you try to go back and print the under base again (as in a 2x under base) there will be massive bleeding of moisture around the edges of where the white ink and polyester meet. Try to bump up the white under base so it is dropping as much white ink as possible without over saturation to achieve a solid white layer of ink film.

STEP 3: Print the CMYK and HIGHLIGHT White

Now, we need to take the same exact image and print it in exactly the same place but with a CMYK + White Highlight option. In our RIP we utilized the CMYK + White highlight as though we were printing on a dark colored shirt (such as GOLD). This would normally print a solid white under base (which we do not use) and then the CMYK as normal with the highlight white.

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Please note, you may need to reduce the white highlight percent lower to keep the CMYK (especially black ink) from mixing with the wet white highlight being printed. In our case, we utilized a 50% highlight and 100% white under base (higher values may work – some experimentation will be required). The CMYK was printed at a standard 65% setting. Your printer and ink set and polyester shirts might require some testing on settings, but it is worth it.

Once the shirt is printed, we have to heat set the ink.

STEP 4: Cure the Ink

Here is where it can get sticky. We strictly adhered to Duponts technical sheet of the cure time for their Artistri inks. 120 seconds in the heat press at 338F. I would not recommend higher temps due to the shirt dyes sublimating through the white ink. This seems to give an incredible great balance to wash ability and optical brightness, even on gold 100% polyester fabrics.

Our curing parameters we used a Hotronix Fusion heat press (non-pneumatic) at a pressure of 3-4 on the digital display. Do not use too much pressure and “kill” the inks by pushing them into the shirt.

NOW WHAT?

The shirt is printed, cured, and ready to roll. We’ve found excellent washability with the white ink and CMYK prints utilizing this technique without having to purchase any additional or different ink sets while at the same time utilizing our popular IMAGE ARMOR LIGHT Shirt Formula. This reduces the number of pretreatments needed to achieve great results with all of your current equipment.

Now, since you understand our process, a little experimentation on your end and happy customers will make the hard work on this end all pay off.

UPDATE: 5x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture of wash testing. The picture is a 5x wash in hot/cold and drying hot. Note the closeup inset of the picture. The ink is wrapped around the fibers of the polyester and interweaved – so it is not going anywhere. The drop in initial color vibrancy is maybe 5% like expected even on cotton but there is ABSOLUTELY NO HAND OR FEEL TO THE PRINT AT ALL AT THIS POINT.

Gatekeeper-5-wash-closeup

UPDATE: 10x WASH TESTING

Below is a picture and closeup of the same shirt as above, washed and dried 10 times. There is still no noticeable difference between this and the 5x washing. The closeup reveals a better revelation of the white ink still wrapped around the individual fibers of the polyester shirt. The image is still extremely commercially acceptable after 10x washes.

10x-Washing-Gatekeeper-Full-Shirt-and-Closeup

Wishing You and Your Families a Very Merry Christmas from Image Armor

Image Armor Merry Christmas

Everyone at Image Armor would like to thank you for a great 2014 and wish you a very Merry Christmas. And we hope that 2015 is very profitable for you, your family, and your company. Here at Image Armor, we hope to be able to help you be more profitable in 2015 with several new products that are sure to help change the way you work.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year DTG Industry!

Come See Image Armor at the Ft. Worth ISS 2014

Image Armor Ft Worth 2014 ISS

We are inviting everyone to stop by our booth at the 2014 ISS in Ft. Worth this week (Sept. 18th-20th) and see what Image Armor is doing with direct to garment DTG printing and 100% polyester fabrics! We think we’ll change the way you are looking at DTG and white ink.

Miller-Feel-The-Music-Carolina-Blue-100-Percent-PolyesterThis will be the first public showing of the results of our new process for printing with Dupont ink sets on 100% polyester fabrics – utilizing our popular Image Armor LIGHT Shirt formula. The results are truly amazing and though it doesn’t solve all the problems of dark shirt polyester printing, it is opening up new doors and avenues for DTG printers into areas never before achievable. The washability is excellent and has an incredibly soft hand feel.

So, stop by, visit, and get your free samples of Image Armor LIGHT, DARK, and ULTRA Formulas. However make sure to stop by as these samples will definitely go quickly!

(The image on the left is printed 100% polyester carolina blue with white ink).

See us in booth #502

Image Armor DTG Printing Dealer Equipment Zone

Image Armor Now Carried By Equipment Zone in New Jersey

Image Armor DTG Printing Dealer Equipment Zone

Image Armor is proud to announce that Equipment Zone, located in Franklin Lakes New Jersey, is now a dealer for Image Armor pretreatments for direct to garment printing.

Equipment Zone carries a full line of DTG supplies including inks, pretreatments, printers, parts, heat presses and more. Located in Franklin Lakes, NJ. Equipment Zone now carries all three formulations of our pretreatments including the LIGHT Shirt Formula which is designed to be utilized with or without a white ink under base on white and light colored shirts. For dark shirt printing, the DARK Shirt Formula works great for most Dupont based ink sets and the ULTRA Formulation works best where a faster gelling of the white ink is required – for printers such as the Brother G3 series of printers or the new Epson F2000 garment printer.

Equipment Zone can be contact by calling 800-408-0040 or by visiting their website at www.equipmentzone.com.

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Shirts

Tips for Printing 100% Polyester Garments with Image Armor LIGHT
One of the hottest markets for printing is the sports performance fabrics markets commonly known as 100% polyester garments. For the DTG printer, these are extremely difficult fabrics to print because the nature of the fibers is to “wick” moisture away. Considering that the inks we use are water based inks, this obviously creates a problem and causes the image to not be as bright as it could be resulting in the ink “wicking” and the image to become blurry. Another problem is that the images on untreated 100% polyester fabrics don’t hold up well in the wash.

Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula changes all of that for the direct to garment printer. Image Armor LIGHT allows formerly unprintable or hard to print 100% polyester fabrics to be more receptive to your DTG ink. This results in incredibly vibrant and wash fast garments.

TIPS FOR PRINTINING 100% POLYESTER

1. Pick the correct shirts to try to print on. Not all 100% polyester garments are created equal. There will be some testing required, however, keep in mind that currently 100% black and dark polyester printing is still not quite “market acceptable”. Our Image Armor LIGHT is designed for use on 100% polyester white and some light colored garments.  We recently had a customer utilize a safety green and a bright pink polyester sport shirt that pretreated and printed great for them. Sometimes the pretreated areas on colored polyester shirts may leave a “haze” or window where the pretreatment was applied. You should not see this on white polyester. Testing is required prior to any production run.

2. You may need to adjust your colors. Image Armor has a tendency to make the image look brighter and colors darker (like Black) due to the effect the pretreatment has on the inks. the LIGHT formula enhances the color spectrum and brightness. After you’ve printed a few shirts with Image Armor LIGHT you will get a feel for any adjustments you might need to make prior to hitting the PRINT button.100-percent-polyester-bleed-through

3. More than likely you will need to use a slip sheet. A what? A slip sheet is a piece of paper or something that is placed on the inside of the shirt prior to printing. This keeps the ink from passing through the front of the shirt and ending up on the inside of the back of the shirt.

The reason this happens is that your DTG printer can not print on air. If you hold your polyester garment up to the light you will see that the weave of the shirt most likely leaves a fair number of air gaps between threads. Your ink has to have something to grab onto and that “something” is the fibers of the shirt. If there’s no thread, the ink drops through the top of the shirt onto the next layer below it. In the case of the photo above it was the inside back of the garment. This is the same reason we have problems printing solid white ink on dark polyesters. The white ink is not able to bridge the air gap between the individual fibers in the weave of the garment causing a visual effect of the ink “fading”.

4. Make sure when heat pressing your polyester shirt it is flat. If polyester fabric is heat pressed with a fold in it, it will be there forever. Always make sure that both layers of your garment are flat on the area that will be pressed. This is especially important for heat presses that do not allow you to “thread” the shirt onto platen. Failure to make sure it is flat will result in permanent visual marks where the fold was located.

Many people have given up printing 100% polyester fabrics with their DTG printers just because the images looked faded, they did not wash well, and the ink bleed making the print fuzzy. With Image Armor you can find a new source of work for your DTG printer and expand your business for 2014. Find out why more and more DTG printers are printing 100% polyester and 50/50 white and light colored shirts with Image Armor LIGHT.

Image Armor Light Release

New Image Armor Light Shirt Formula Now Available

Image Armor Light White Background with Mirror

Image Armor is proud to announce the release of the new Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula for White and Light Colored garments.

The new LIGHT Shirt Formula expands your printing capabilities beyond anything you thought possible with increased vibrancy and wash fastness like you’ve never seen before in DTG printing.

The new LIGHT Shirt Formula gives:

  • Increased vibrancy, detail and wash fastness on White and Light colored 50/50 shirts, White and light colored 100% cotton shirts, and White 100% Polyester shirts
  • For use with CMYK only printing OR white+CMYK printing
  • No staining or scorching on white or light colored garments
  • Easy to use – no mixing required

Image Armor Light AdThe new LIGHT Shirt Formula will change the way you print DTG shirts. Using it on white shirts for just CMYK printing will yield high end screen printing like quality prints with great wash fastness. Works great on 50/50 or even white 100% polyesters shirts opening new markets for your DTG Printer. When printing on white 100% polyester fabrics you can achieve sublimation like prints at a fraction of the labor and costs. Plus, opening the door to 50/50 shirts will expand your printing options and give customers more choices over only printing 100% cotton garments.

Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula is priced just right also, allowing you to pre-treat all your light shirts for as little as $.10-.20 per shirt depending on application method, consistency and area covered. For just a little additional cost per shirt you can give your customers improved vibrancy, wash fastness and detail like never before.

Jerzees 29M and Image Armor Printing Results

As can be seen in the photograph to the left, the left side of this image was not pretreated while the right side of the shirt was pretreated with Image Armor LIGHT Shirt Formula. The shirt was a 50/50 Jerzees 29M white t-shirt. Previously, untreated 50/50 blend shirts left the colors dull and wash fastness lacking as much of the image faded the first wash or two. With Image Armor Light Shirt Formula you can see a definite increase in detail, color vibrancy and the wash fastness will enhance the perceived value of your garments as well as give your DTG printing business a new found legitimacy on a wider variety of garment colors and styles.

See our Dealer Network for purchasing Image Armor Light Shirt Formula.