Awards & Engraving

January '17

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A&E JANUARY 2017 • 39 due to the lack of heat they used to put ink to paper. The main companies involved at the time all became part of Sawgrass Ink around 2004. At the time, they used a printer that was not really designed for printing sublimation inks, which have much larger pigments than traditional inkjet ink, and many people who were sublimation printers constantly fought head clogging issues and ruined printers. Today, there are purpose-built printers on the wide-format side and gel-based printers on the small-format side that have all but eliminated head clogging issues. OVERVIEW OF DTG PROCESS Terry: For a quick overview of the direct- to-garment process, you begin with artwork. While most decorators use Photoshop, you can use most any art program you are comfortable with. All DTG machines come with a RIP or print driver software. Once your image is on your computer screen the way you want it to appear on the shirt, you import to the RIP or print driver software. What you see on the screen is a rectangle that represents the shirt holder on the printer. The imported image appears within this rectangle. You can position the image where you want it to be printed on the shirt. If you're printing a light shirt with no white ink, you simply select the Print option and printing begins. Printing dark shirts with white ink provides a few more steps in the process. First, the shirt must be pretreated (sprayed with a pretreat solution) and dried before printing. There are only two professional methods for pretreating. One is an automatic pretreat machine, preferably a fully enclosed unit so you can use it in the same room as your printer. Or, if you are on a tight budget, there is a Wagner hand- h e l d p owe r s p r aye r. This method requires a little more practice and is messy. Hand spraying must be accomplished in another room away from your printer to keep atomized pretreat from entering it. Methods such as paint rollers, hand pump sprayers, etc., are more hobby techniques not found in professional production facilities. Many heat presses on the market today can handle the large variety of sublimatable products currently available. Today, there are sublimation printers available that have all but eliminated head clogging issues. IMAGE COURTESY OF EPSON IMAGE COURTESY OF HIX GRAPHICS

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