This month Peter Wright, managing director of Amaya Sales UK, presents advice on how to achieve bright and colourful direct to garment prints on dark and coloured garments – it’s easier than you think.
If you visit trade shows, I’m sure you have noticed the difference in quality of the sample prints that the suppliers give you.
I find it hard to believe that a supplier of a DTG printer would give you an inferior print sample when they are trying to sell you their product, but it does happen. Maybe the perceived value of quality is different from one supplier to the next.
So, how do you give yourself the best possible chance of creating the perfect DTG print on to dark garments?
Use the best art file possible
The best type of file is a vector format because it can be sized without any drop in quality. So, ask your customer to supply a PNG, PSD or EPS file. If they can only supply a JPG file, ask them to send in the finished size and at 300dpi.
Ideally, a PNG file is best because it already as a transparent background. You can then automatically cut out the background on your DTG RIP software.
Use the best possible garment
The most suitable garment for DTG printing is made of 100% ring spun cotton.
The DTG water-based inks are specifically made for cotton based fabrics. Tightly woven fabrics will give a crisper more accurate finish than a loose weave such as a polo shirt.
Ask your equipment supplier for their suggestions on the best garments to use. You can also print on to blended fabrics such as 50/50 polyester and cotton. Some printers can print on polyester with special inks, but please test first for washfastness and bleeding.
Consistent pre-treating is the secret to a perfect quality print. Operators often blame other factors, but a good pre-coat applied evenly will normally solve most quality issues.
If you apply to little the design will look patchy and week but if you apply to much then the there is a chance that the design will wash off or the ink will peel off. This is because the ink s laying on the pre-coat and not on the fabric. Achieving the best results requires a little practise so please try different garments and spray levels until you are satisfied.
You could of course purchase an automatic pre-treater. The better ones have two or four spray nozzles that give you a more constant coverage. Again the preferred ones will allow you to set the amount of pre-treat laid down and give you the optimum coverage.
White ink control
Most DTG printers have their own RIP software that allows you to control the ink flow amounts, size and positioning.
You should be able to adjust the amount of white ink laid down. More white ink does not always give you better quality, try reducing the white ink by around 10 or 20%, normally you cannot see the difference and it will save you money.
Just remember that an optimum level of white ink will give you a vibrant print when the colours are applied.
Curing the garment
When you have printed the garment you will have to cure the ink on a heat press. Make sure you have a good quality press and preferably one that hovers.
Sometimes, your garment will come off the printer looking great, but after heat pressing can look dull. This depends on the amount of ink you put down. One way to combat this is to place the garment on the press and hover the top plate over the garment for about a minute and then use a medium pressure to finish curing it.
Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to print perfect prints aver time.