April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 5 1 cotton growers also rotate their crops as cotton is a very resource-rich consumer of nutrients in the soil. Rotating the crops en- sures that the soils do not become depleted. In addition, organic cotton is processed differently from regular cotton. Typically, heavy metals, chlorine, and other chemicals and dyes can be used to produce cotton. Though the cotton is washed to remove these chemicals, residual traces can remain and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Cotton is not pure white by nature (hence the "natural colored" shirts you can purchase) and organic cottons utilize perox- ides and other natural or water-based dyes to whiten the fibers instead of more harm- ful whitening methods. All of this leads to a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly end product. But there is a cost associated with "green" products as they are typically more labor and cost intensive. CONSUMABLES If we examine the actual DTG printing process, there are two main components in making the shirt: the pretreatment and the inks. Pretreatments are mostly water-based ma- terials that are applied to the garment and then heat set. For the most part, the compo- nents that comprise pretreatments are rela- tively inert after being cured (even though curing is not really the best term to describe the drying of pretreatment). However, like all chemicals, you should never just dump liquid pretreatments down the drain. Al- ways refer to the manufacturer and local au- thorities on how to dispose of waste materi- als properly. One option you could employ is to allow waste pretreatment to evaporate leaving just the raw materials after the liq- uid is removed. This can either be heat set (just like you would on a shirt), which gen- erally neutralizes the effects of the chemical components. This is why you should always try to use your pretreatment as efficiently as possible to minimize waste materials. Plus, one should never dump pretreatment into the water supply system as some pretreat- ments do have components that are not safe for aquatic life, which means it is not safe for humans either. You can also check to see if your pretreat- ment solution is certified. There are many types of certifications out there like Oeko- Tex, CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), Prop 65, RoHS, etc. As an example, Oeko-Tex Passport certifi- cation checks for chemicals, colorants, and accessories used in the manufacturing of textiles and that these components in the product meet any statutory requirements and are not harmful to human health. In other words, these certifications ensure that the products you are using are "safe" to use (that does not mean ingest). Many of the tests show that the product does not contain lead, mercury, or levels of other chemicals deemed to be unsafe for humans to come into contact. Many manufacturers post on their websites the certifications their products have received. If you are unsure, contact the manufactures directly to inquire as to the tests performed on their products. The other components of DTG print- ing most used (and required for printing) are the inks. The inks that DTG printers use are typically water-based pigmented ink sets. These inks are great for decorat- Opposite: Think not only of how you are disposing your inks, but also the pack- aging they come in. (All im- ages courtesy the author)

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