September '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 D I R E C T - T O - S U B S T R A T E R E P O R T 4 1 Pretreatment is the "primer" for DTG printing — especially white ink printing. Pretreating is also beneficial to enhance CMYK-only prints for better vibrancy, image clarity, and wash durability. Learning to pretreat correctly is para- mount to being successful in DTG and where roughly 80% of all DTG printing issues derive from. Inconsistent pretreat- ing results in poor wash durability, varying degrees of how the white ink appears on the shirt, and other issues. Some people learn to pretreat by hand but that is often messy, and you don't have a good idea if you have applied the cor- rect amount of pretreatment, nor can it be replicated exactly for each subsequent shirt. Utilizing a pretreatment machine will help you consistently apply the correct amount of pretreatment to every shirt so that every print will look the same. But even with a pretreatment machine, one needs to learn the correct amount of pretreatment to apply for a particular color, brand of shirt, and for the job at hand. Learning how your DTG printer performs will only come by expe- rience. Keep a record of jobs printed, the brand of shirt, the amount of pretreatment applied, etc., so you can refer back to that when you are printing future jobs. Over time, you will learn how your printer prints, how the pretreatment affects the look and wash durability of the shirts, and you will be able to instantly make a good judgement call on the fly as you print. But this only comes by experience. There is no shortcut to becoming proficient in DTG printing. You can get some good ad- vice to get started, but every shirt is dif- ferent just as every piece of artwork and job is different. HOW DTG HAS GROWN AND IMPROVED Direct-to-garment is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the apparel decorating industry. With the abil- ity to print single, one-off designs, DTG has opened entirely new segments of the apparel printing market for on- demand type printing, from small shops operat- ing out of a bedroom to print shops like Custom Ink. A single shirt — or dozens of shirts — print- ed and delivered within days; single color or full- color photographic reproductions … this is the beauty of DTG. With improvements in inks, ready-to- print shirts that require no pretreating, printing machine speeds increasing, au- tomated software for making it easy to setup an online store to full production management of artwork and shop stream- lining — DTG has grown from being the new kid on the block to a serious player in the decorating industry. From a single printer in a bedroom to full production shops with hundreds of DTG printers printing tens of thousands of shirts per day, direct-to-garment has found its place. That place is in many screen printing and embroidery shops looking to expand their capabilities as well as brand new, all- DTG-printing shops catering to the mass- es or individual niche markets. DTG is here to stay and continue its growth trend as it continues to open new markets in the decorating industry. Where will DTG be in a couple of years? If the past growth in innovation, speed, ink improvements, and other advance- ments are any indicator, we will see direct- to-garment become even more prevalent within the decorating industry. The ques- tion is, will your shop be a part of it? DSR BRIAN WALKER got started in the garment decorating industry in the mid-1980's when he learned screen printing while in high school. Over the years, he has started several direct-to- garment-related businesses, including I-Group Technologies that makes the Viper pretreatment machines, Image Armor (pretreatments and inks), as well as RTP Apparel, which produces Ready To Print garments that require no pretreat- ment to be printed. WANT TO SEE THE PRETREAT- ING PROCESS IN ACTION? BRIAN WALKER DIVES INTO THE SCIENCE OF IT WITH THIS T-SHIRT EXPERIMENT: If the past growth in innovation, speed, ink improvements, and other advancements are any indicator, we will see di- rect-to-garment become even more prevalent within the decorating industry. (Image courtesy Brother)

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