Ricky Nunn, systems specialist at Xpres, outlines three top tips that you can use to make the most of your direct to garment printer.
Direct to garment printers are one of the UK’s most popular solutions for short-run and one-off retail quality garment prints. This type of printer is famed for its ability to create on-demand, personalised textile prints.
While its bulk counterpart, the screen print carrousel, successfully enables businesses to print en-masse, DTG exists to satisfy the one of a kind, short to medium-run, personalised and rapidly changing textile requirements seen in today’s fashion retail and e-commerce industries.
The way major high street stores operate is changing. It’s an exciting time for garment printers, with fashion retail moving quicker than ever before. Retailers are led by consumer demand and, as such, are searching for a more agile garment print supplier.
In years gone by, fashion retailers would have had to bulk buy specific T shirt designs and almost work backwards to understand which designs would be popular with their customer base. Now, with a call for a reduction in textile waste and a need to remain competitive, retailers are moving towards short runs of specific T shirt designs. If a design is popular, the print volume grows to match customer demand and larger orders are placed. In a time when the customer makes all the decisions, DTG enables garment decorators to offer short runs at competitive prices, as well as the ability to be agile and adaptable to new, different customer trends.
However, just purchasing a DTG printer doesn’t guarantee perfect results every time. There are a number of processes that will need to be followed to ensure quality results are achieved from each and every print. If one of these processes is not correct, the quality will be affected. Investing in these areas is just as important as the printer itself.
Here are my three top tips that will ensure high quality, consistent results from different DTG solutions every time:
1) Choosing the right T shirt
Each T shirt brand and style will be made up of a slightly different composition and therefore will react and hold the ink in a different way.
Xpres recommends sourcing different t-shirt samples from a range of suppliers and running test prints on a DTG, until a style and finish is found that suits both business budget and customer requirements. For the very best results, it is highly recommended to use 100% cotton T shirts with a tight weave and smooth finish.
2) Effective pre-treatment
A well maintained pre-treat unit is key. It is recommended to use a correctly diluted pre-treatment solution that is freshly mixed at the start of each week. There is often a tendency to mix larger quantities of solution to save time, however this means that the pre-treat solution could be sat for prolonged periods.
When this happens, the solution can start to congeal and will cause problems such as blocked nozzles and damaged pumps. This would also mean that the pre-treatment is sprayed inconsistently and will affect overall print quality.
3) Curing the pre-treatment solution
The secret to curing the pre-treatment solution is to ensure that you have a quality heat press that is capable of consistently maintaining its heat and pressure. Curing high numbers of pre-treated T shirts will put strain on your heat press element. By investing in a good quality heat press you will get consistent drying times and increased productivity.