DON’T LET AN INK DROUGHT DRY UP YOUR BUSINESS

DON’T LET AN INK DROUGHT DRY UP YOUR BUSINESS

With the arrival of 2017 the world seems to be in turmoil. Economic uncertainty. Wars. Environmental change. Droughts. There is always something that can affect your life. Don’t let an “Ink Drought” affect your business. Image Armor is the answer to any ink shortages you might be experiencing.

Let 2017 be the year that you change the future of your DTG business. We have the inks in stock at our distributors and we have benefits that will help change your business for the better this year.

  • FAST 35 Second White Ink Cure Time – Increase your productivity
  • More DURABLE prints – get better wash fastness
  • More COST EFFECTIVE – save money not just in time but also in Ink costs

You can not afford for your business to run short on inks. Inks are the lifeblood of DTG. Image Armor realizes that if you are successful we will be successful. Call an Image Armor distributor today to make the switch to greener pastures in 2017!

Using Image Armor ULTRA with Brother OEM White Ink

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Over the past several months we have been testing the Image Armor ULTRA with Brother’s white OEM ink. We wanted to present our findings with the industry.

In the past, we really did not effectively endorse using our Image Armor ULTRA dark shirt pretreatment with Brother OEM inks. However, in our most recent testing we found that there was virtually NO difference between the results of using Brother OEM pretreatment or Image Armor ULTRA Dark Shirt Formula.

We found that ULTRA gelled the white ink just as quickly and effectively as the OEM pretreatment.

Take a look at the picture below.

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Photographed at the same time side-by-side, are you able to tell which is Brother pretreatment and which one is Image Armor ULTRA pretreatment? Although it is very difficult to discern any difference between the two prints on your computer screen, there is one that looks slightly better than the other (to give you a hint it is not the OEM). Click on the image to get a larger view to see the actual full results labeled at the bottom of the photograph.

We used the same shirt for each print – the Spectra Tees 3100 series black shirt. While using different pretreatments, we did apply the same exact amount and cured the pretreatments the same exact way on a Viper XPT-1000 pretreatment machine. Even the print itself was exactly the same. Below you can see our settings for the above print.

Brother White Ink Print Driver Image Armor PT

The Highlight was set to 7 while the Mask was set to 5. The shirts were printed immediately one after the other.

After printing, the ink was cured on a Hotronix manual heat press at 356F for 35 seconds using light pressure.

As cane be seen in the photo above, there was no real visible difference between the OEM pretreatment and using Image Armor ULTRA. This makes the ULTRA a great choice for Brother printer owners looking for a good alternative pretreatment that is ready to use – no mixing required.

If you have NOT tried Image Armor ULTRA yet, we want you to give it a try for FREE. This link will take you to a page talking about our Image Armor LIGHT Shirt pretreatment formula, but by filling out the questions and clicking that you use white ink we will also send a free quart of Image Armor ULTRA.

If you are not familiar with Image Armor LIGHT shirt formula for CMYK prints this pretreatment alls for printing on all types of fabrics from polyester to 100% cotton garments (for CMYK prints only). We know you’ll be amazed at the results or we wouldn’t be giving these samples away for free.

So, if you are looking for an easier to user pretreatment that requires no mixing, give Image Armor a try. You can find a dealer near you on our PURCHASE page.

Brother GT3 Owl Print Perspective

Brother GT3 Inks Getting Closer

Brother GT3 Owl Print Perspective

New B-SERIES Inks On The Way

The Brother GT3 Ink sets are just around the corner. We are doing final field trials and wanted to show some stuff we were printing to give rise to your imagination. The new B-Series Image Armor inks are performing incredibly well in the Brother GT3 printers and with the Image Armor pretreatments.

Brother GT3 DTG printer with Image Armor InksMost Brother users will not see any real changes in their day to day activities. The B-Series inks continue the Image Armor tradition of a great 35 second cure time for white ink with increased wash durability and ease of use.

Interested parties can sign up on our SUBSCRIBE page to get updates as we release more information (or click the SUBSCRIBE link in the menu bar at the top of this page). Final pricing has not yet been set, however pricing is expected to be significantly less than the current Brother ink prices. This means more profit for your business and better end products for your customers.

In addition, the B-Series inks perform incredibly well with the new RTP Apparel Ready To Print DTG engineered t-shirts that require no pretreatment. Just pick, print, and cure… for more information see the RTP Apparel website at www.rtpapparel.com.

How Long Can I Pretreat before Printing

How Far in Advance Can We Pretreat Shirts and Store Them For Direct To Garment Printing?

Pre-pretreated-Shirts-2-Year-Old

NOTE: This is a re-post of an article we posted in January of 2016. We get a lot of inquires about this, so we thought it prudent to repost this article for everyone’s knowledge base.

We often get asked how long can I pretreat a shirt and then leave it sit on the shelf before the “magical” properties of the pretreat are no longer good.

Well, when we originally started Image Armor back in 2013 we had pretreated some black shirts and set them on the shelf. Our intentions were to print them 12 months later. Business got busy, the shirts got buried and all was forgotten…until this morning.

We actually found the shirts a couple of days ago and decided that we would test out our theory. The shirts were originally pretreated with Image Armor DARK Shirt Formula on November 19th, 2013. You can see (click the picture to enlarge) my label showing we were supposed to print the shirt on November 19th, 2014 one year later.

The way this played out, and a testimony to our pretreatments, is that it officially have been 2 years and 2 months since we pretreated these shirts and put them on the shelf. They were not put into a bag, or sealed up in any way shape or form. The shirts actually had ink cartridges, paper, tools and all sorts of items stacked on top of them over the past two years. We printed these with our Image Armor E-SERIES inks this morning after heat pressing the shirt for 15 seconds to get rid of any moisture in the garment.

The results? Click on the picture above for a larger image. The results were extremely favorable. The whites were extremely white, just as if we had pretreated the shirt this morning prior to printing.

What does this say? If you wanted to pretreat ahead of time to save time and do your shirts in bulk, this is now been proven to work, at least with Image Armor pretreatments. We still do not recommend pretreating way ahead of time due to the fact that the more you handle the shirt, the more chance the fibers have to “pop up” and cause you issues when trying to get a nice smooth white ink film. But, if you feel the need, go ahead, pretreat in advance.

Just don’t forget where you put the shirts after you’ve pretreated them.

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

What-happens-when-dtg-inks-are-not-cured-correctly-on-polyester-fabric

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.

Close-up-of-not-cured-ink-on-washed-polyester-fabric-and-peeling-off

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.

The DTG Revolution has Begun

american_revolutionThe American Revolution began in 1765 as the result of the King of England imposing taxes upon them without any representation. Through a very tumultuous time from 1765-1783, the American people fought for their freedom to be the Captains of their own destiny. They shook off the chains that held them down – the bondage of high taxes, no representation, no control over their own lives. They fought for the freedom to control their own destiny.  This unleashed the beginning of an explosion of unconstrained innovation and growth unlike that which the world had never seen before.

Well, another revolution is brewing and we are calling it the DTG Revolution. In the beginning the only beneficiaries of the DTG industry were select individuals who were able to control the market prices for machines and consumables. A market oligarchy not unlike the King of England and his cronies enjoyed for a season. The end-user DTG printer today is not unlike the Colonist in 1765. Paying high prices for supplies has kept some DTG printers from actually making money and prospering. The Freedom to make money is the yearning of every business person – and the DTG community is quickly waking up to the fact that they’ve been suppressed for too long.

This is why Image Armor is leading the DTG Revolution. In 2013 we to brought to market a better DTG white ink pretreatment. Image Armor DARK gave better performance and lower overall cost in a white ink pretreatment. In 2014 Image Armor brought the ULTRA pretreatment to market leading the charge and giving DTG printers the ability to do in-line or one-pass printing more successfully. In 2015 we’ve led the Revolution with a more cost effective solution to help the DTG printer profit more. Faster cure times (35 seconds vs 120-180 seconds), better white coverage means less ink used to achieve the same results, and $125 per liter cost which is up to 250% less than the “Establishments” pricing.Ink-Set-with-35-Second-Seal

Image Armor is proud to be helping lead the fight against artificially high prices for ink and pretreatments. We are proud to be helping bring more profitability to every DTG printer. Our goal and commitment is to continue to bring new innovation and expanded profitability to the industry. Our goal is to spread the word that you can make money in DTG competitively and run a thriving DTG business. We are proud to be at the forefront of this Revolution.

Image Armor has been on all sides of the DTG industry. We started off as screen printers. We ran DTG printers in retail businesses. We were distributors and now we are playing in the manufacturing side of the direct to garment industry. We know how hard it is to make money in DTG. We were there in the beginning. We lived the difficulty of making money printing DTG. We also recognize that EVERYONE needs to make money to stay in business. But the business model needs to be a win-win situation so that manufacturers, distributors, and DTG printers can all make money – not just the manufacturers and distributors.

The days of the “DTG Establishment” controlling the industry and only them making money are history. Just as the Colonist threw off the chains of the King of England, Image Armor is helping the DTG printer throw aside artificially high priced ink and pretreatment costs so they too can make money in their businesses.

The winds are changing and Image Armor is proud to be providing the tools for the masses to enjoy a more profitable DTG business model.

Stay tuned…

White Ink and WIMs Filter Change Over Notice

WIMs Filter PN LCF-24100For any users who use are looking to switch to the Image Armor E-SERIES DTG inks and are utilizing a WIMs (White Ink Management) system to recirculate their white inks, or a printer that utilizes a standard filter like the one seen to the left (usually they are inline somewhere – sometimes before the ink lines hit the print heads), here are a few things you should take notice before making the switch.

Due to the chemistry of the Image Armor inks, which allow the E-SERIES white ink to cure in 35 seconds and have great wash durability, our interaction of inks with standard fabric filters is not recommended. Many of the WIMs today are found on older DTG brand or re-branded type DTG printers. These in-line filters are easily replaced and exchanged.

The replacement filter that you want to utilize, most often found on the DTG brand, will be the PALL LCF-24100 Rigimesh (18 μm) Filter with the correspondingly correct connection mechanism. These filters replace the fabric mesh filtration material with a stainless steel filter material. Check with your local Image Armor Ink dealer to ensure that you get the correct part as most dealers should have these on hand for the conversion kits they offer.

Failure to convert or change out the filter to the stainless steel version can result in a reaction of the ink with mesh material causing “clots” to form, potentially  clogging the filter entirely or allowing the clots to breaking free and flow into other printer components like the print head and/or dampers. The inks in and of themselves will not clot or coagulate on their own, only when they come into contact with the fabric style filter material and, over time, accumulated deposits can form and result in other DTG component failures.

Check with your Image Armor dealer for more information.

DTG White ink on Black Polyester

A DTG Industry First – White Ink on Black 100% Polyester

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Updated 3:10 p, 9/3/15   2:08p 9/8/15

Image Armor, LLC is proud to announce that in an industry first for Epson re-purposed printers we have achieved white ink printing with superior wash fastness on black 100% polyester fabrics. Previously there were serious dye migration and wash issues associated with trying to print white ink on black polyester fabrics. With Image Armor’s new E-SERIES DTG Inks for Epson re-purposed printers and our ULTRA pretreatment we’ve created, and are still perfecting, the process to now make this a production oriented process for ANY Direct to Garment printing shop.

In the past you’d have had to either screen print or use a Cad-Cut type material to do dark polyester fabrics. The incredible ink properties of the E-SERIES DTG Inks allow for incredible stretchability as well as adhesion even to synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

We will outline this process for everyone so that they can achieve these results on their own utilizing their own DTG equipment. The two main things that are needed are the E-SERIES DTG inks and the ULTRA Formula pretreatment.

The Process

Picking a good polyester shirt is the first step in successfully printing black polyester. We utilized the Sport-Tek ST340 for this specific test, but are currently testing a variety of other polyester shirt makes, styles and manufacturers. This is a cationic dyed polyester shirt which means the process used to dye the shirt to the color desired happens at a lower temperature. For us that means less dye migration when heating to cure the ink. However, we are still testing other polyester shirts and dye processes because the Image Armor E-SERIES inks cure in 35 seconds or less which definitely helps the process of mitigating the potential for dye migration.

Full-Rodeo-Shirt-Black-Polyester-small
PRETREATING

Pretreating is relatively straight forward like any shirt. We applied 32 grams of Image Armor ULTRA pretreatment. However, higher amounts could be applied up to 40 grams or so. The shirt was then heat set but here’s where we deviate from the standard  pretreatment heat setting process. We set the heat press to 356F and set the pressure so that when we lower the heat press platen onto the garment that there is just “contact” with the shirt – no pressure period. Due to no pressure, the pretreatment will take longer to steam off and “dry”. Instead of the standard 35-40 seconds you might end up doing two 30-35 second presses. Make sure to utilize a cover sheet during pressing but avoid teflon as it could potentially shine up the polyester fabric.

If you end up using too much pressure you will definitely see a noticeable area  or what is known as a “heat press mark”. Typically this mark is a definite, visible mark that looks like the fabric is melted slightly and will not wash out. This is why we utilize virtually no pressure on the fabric during the curing of the pretreatment.

Please note, that when you pull the shirt out of the heat press it may be extremely stiff. This is normal. If you allow the shirt to cool down, it will return to its normal “loose” fabric feel it had prior to pretreating.

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PRINTING
The printing process is relatively straight forward like the pretreating process, however some printers and RIPs may be better suited for printing white ink on polyester fabrics than others. Loading the shirt onto the platen is a very crucial part of this process. You want to be able to thread the shirt onto the platen for optimal performance of the print. If your printer platen only allows you to lay the entire shirt onto the platen you will run into some issues with ink passing through the first layer of the shirt and depositing onto the inside of the back of the shirt. This happens because the weave of most polyester fabrics are not a super-tight weave leaving a lot of open air areas between the threads. DTG printer ink can not bridge this gap and thus the ink will just jet through onto whatever is behind it. In this case the inside of the back of the shirt.

One solution is to utilize a slip sheet in between the layers of the shirt however this can cause issues due to the amount of ink being deposited. The ink will soak the paper and cause it to swell and possibly bubble up, raising the surface of the shirt enough that you might run into a head strike. Due to the high concentration of pretreatment a head strike can quickly clog up nozzles in a print head and possibly leading to a replacement of the printhead.

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A close-up of the printed shirt reveals the open mesh weave of the athletic polyester shirt. This makes the ink look pin holed or less white than normal due to the black of the shirt showing through these holes.

The main point is you want to lay down as much white ink as possible on the first pass for the underbase. You will need to apply typically more ink than on a 100% cotton shirt. How much white ink you can lay down in a single pass will be dependent upon the printer and the RIP. Some printers, like the Epson PRO series printers (i.e. 3880) will not allow as much ink to be deposited as say an Epson 3000 printer. You will have to do independent testing with the type of printer you have and the RIP.

Working on conjunction with the amount of ink the printer can physically lay down is the RIP. The RIP will also limit how much ink you can deposit. Polyester will require 1.5-3 times the white ink to achieve a great looking finished product when compared to a 100% cotton shirt. Of course, testing with your own equipment and settings will be required. Laying down too much white ink can result in the white ink not being “kicked over” enough and then when the CMYK is applied it will look great on the printer platen, but when you heat press the ink it will blend into the white causing a dulling and image clarity degradation. So, finding the optimal amount of white ink for your printer will take some testing.

You DO NOT want to deposit a lot of white ink on the second, or highlight pass. This is because all the pretreatment has been used up in kicking over the initial deposit of white ink. The addition of printing more white ink will result in a serious wicking of moisture and components from the ink into the surrounding polyester fibers. The ink will either “spider out” or create a halo around the image which may or may not wash out after printing.  Many times, when depositing a lot of white ink on the underbase, you will still get this halo effect. This will usually wash out in the first wash and is most noticeable on lighter colored garments.

We have found that certain colors of polyester, especially red and maroon will most likely still dye migrate during the curing process and even after the cure has been completed. This is something we are still working on, however it is still going to be an ongoing issue in dealing with our water based inks.

CURING THE INK
Again, the key to making white ink printing on black polyester is found in the characteristics of the inks and how they cure. The Image Armor E-SERIES inks cure at 356F for 35 seconds. This works in our favor with polyester fabrics due to the shorter cure time. However, with the amount of white ink deposited and a much lighter (just touching) pressure on the heat press, we still need to ensure that the entire ink film has the moisture removed AND gets above 310F. Use a cover sheet when heat curing the ink and after 35 seconds lift to let any moisture escape. You might also want to try two 20 second presses. Getting rid of the moisture is key and allowing the ink to achieve full curing status temperature. If you put your hand over the print just after releasing the heat press and you can still “feel” moisture coming off the print, it most likely is not done curing or dry. You will need to ensure a full cure, otherwise the print will start flaking off after just a couple of washes.

Some have asked about hovering or utilizing a conveyor dryer. Though we have not tested the conveyor dryer at this time, hovering a heat press does not seem to work really well. The inks will try wrapping around the fibers leaving “cracks” in the colors resulting in a less than desirable print.

Again, we do not want to utilize pressure on the heat press to avoid the heat press mark. These don’t really wash out because we’ve altered the fabric with excessive heat and pressure. You DO need to ensure that you have enough pressure though to help accelerate the curing of the ink…it is like a dance and you have to find the right combination of steps to make it all work properly. Test, test, test.

Also, make note that the shirt will come off the heat press and as it starts to cool, will become very stiff. Do not worry. In our testing the shirts returned back to normal flexibility with little to no hand on the shirt after 10-15 minutes.

WASHING OF THE GARMENT
We would highly recommend washing the garment prior to wearing obviously as with any DTG printed shirt. However, the wash characteristics are extremely favorable due to the way we formulated the E-SERIES inks. Other than regular washing techniques suggested for the specific fabric, we really do not have any other requirements for good washing. As long as the ink is cured it will wash extremely well. We tested our shirts in the extreme of washing – hot water during the wash and high heat during the drying of the shirt. For optimal results warm to cold water washing and hang drying of the garment will result in the longest life of the shirt and print.

MAKING IT ALL HAPPEN
Due to the nature of the E-SERIES inks we have been able to achieve really good results while printing on black 100% polyester fabrics. In fact, some look as good or better than screen printed designs and could easily pass for standard screen printing. There is still a lot of work to do to perfect this process, but we are making great strides to achieve an industry wide, easy to accomplish task. We’ve only been able to do this with the Image Armor inks and not any other brands within the Epson re-purposed printers. So, you no longer need to be confined to just cotton shirts. Let the power of the E-SERIES inks open new doors and profit opportunities for your business.

The Beatles Said It Best…

Shake-It-Up-Baby-Shaking-Picture-IA-White-Ink

SHAKE IT UP BABY

The Beatles said it best in their song “Twist and Shout” that you should “Shake It Up Baby”. This applies not just to keep your body in shape (and have a good time) but to all White DTG inks on the market.

White inks are formulated to help hide the shirt color and give a good, solid white base on which to print. The very nature of the inks that provides this base also has some interesting side effects that every DTG user must take note of and ensure that they keep in mind. The biggest side effect is the “settling” of the inks. Settling occurs when the ink sits for any period of time and the components in the ink start to “sink” to the bottom. This results in white chunky monkeys found in the bottom of the ink bottles.

There are two types of “settling”.  One is a “hard” settling while the other is a “soft” settling. We designed the Image Armor inks to “soft” settle. This means that those chunky monkeys in the ink bottle can be re-shaken back into solution. This is often why you hear people recommend that end users shake their ink bottles and cartridges daily. This keeps all of the “heavy” components in the ink suspended in solution and the ink working properly.

The “hard” settling is another issue. Hard settling will not go back into solution no matter how hard or long you shake the ink. This is a standard problem with some inks and can cause serious performance issues, even damage to print heads and other printer components.

Image Armor is committed to bringing the best products to the industry to help our end users. One day we will find a way so that you don’t need to worry about ink settling, but for now, get into the groove, Shake It Up each morning and get that white ink moving!

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