Start Here November '21

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 102

20 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 1 to print film positives, coat screens, expose the screens, washout, dry, block-out, tape out, line up on press, ink up, print, and then reclaim the screens makes it a time- and labor-intensive process. Introduce direct-to-garment, and that six-color job of 18 shirts can be done in an hour or two start to finish. Who in screen printing hasn't experienced the customer that comes back to your shop and claims you shorted them a shirt or two (or they forgot to order it) — all after you've torn down the job from the printing press? Solution solved with DTG — just pull up the artwork, grab your shirt, pretreat, and print. Another satisfied customer — and all that can be done while they wait. What makes DTG more alluring is the versatility. Direct-to- garment allows for more colors in the print (unlimited, but no special effects or special colors like neon or a specific spot color); the ability to print on demand (you can have 10,000-plus dif- ferent designs and hold no inventory except blank shirts and print what you need, when you need it); you can resize the printed design on the fly (print a 4XL adult shirt, then immediately a baby onesie with the same design); and generally it is cleaner than screen printing. In other words, DTG is like having the ability to get immediate gratification and see what the print will look like without having to worry if you will need to reburn multiple screens because of a mistake in the artwork. DTG also makes customization like names and numbers on shirts super easy. Just change, click print, and go. Learning Curve As with any printing technology, there is a learning curve and much of it comes down to experience. Many times, people new to the decorating business are wowed by the ease and simplicity of direct-to-garment printing presented to them at a trade show. However, after they put their money down and get the printer in, they realize that it may not seem as easy as origi- nally presented. Don't get me wrong: DTG printing is relatively easy, but you need to do the basics and build upon your experience as you grow with the business. It is not as easy as "load a shirt and hit the print button." One of the biggest hurdles most people getting into DTG face is learning how to do the pretreating cor- rectly. Pretreating is the process of applying a solution to the printed side of the shirt to give the inks a base to print upon, similar to priming drywall before you actually paint the wall. 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 paramount to being successful in DTG and where roughly 80% of all DTG printing issues derive from. Inconsistent pretreating 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 correct amount of pretreatment, nor can it be replicated exactly for each subsequent shirt. Utilizing a pretreatment machine will help you con- sistently 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 par- ticular color, brand of shirt, and for the job at hand. A hand-controlled pretreatment machine spraying a shirt; pretreating correctly is a big issue to overcome. (Image courtesy Brian Walker) If the past growth in innovation, speed, ink improvements, and other advancements are any indicator, we will see direct-to-garment become even more prevalent within the decorating industry. (Image courtesy Brother)

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of GRAPHICS PRO - Start Here November '21