5 Ways for Best Washability with DTG Ink

By | February 28, 2013

DTG Inks are perfect for washability, but there can be times when DTG printer designs don’t last as long as they should.

Five things to watch, so you can save DTG Ink from fading prematurely after washing.

There are many excellent excuses for adding a DTG Viper or DTG M2 Garment Printer to your embroidery, rhinestone decoration or screen printing shop.  The first reason is to get a larger market share by adding white ink printing on dark garments with genuine DTG Ink to your product line.

There are variables and pitfalls when printing on dark garments, many more than white shirts. The good news is that the latest generation of DTG Ink washes exceptionally well. However, if you experience washability problems, there could be other things at work, many which affect the wash fastness of digital prints.

1.      Under-curing DTG Ink

For proper results, DTG Inks should be cured by heating at between 325 – 350 ° F (163 – 176.5 °C) for about 60 seconds. White ink on dark garments may need to be cured twice as long. Too little time on the heat press is the biggest cause of washout. Since DTG Inks are water-based, ‘floating’ the heat press over the shirt for about 30 – 45 seconds before a full press will help to boil off as much water as possible.

2.      Fabrics make a difference

Although the variety of fabrics used for direct to garment printing grows as fast as DTG printer technology, cotton fabrics still work best with DTG Inks. When used on cotton/polyester blends or synthetic fabrics, pretreatment is ideal for the best washability. Always check with Colman and Company for their recommendations when there are any questions about the print parameters for synthetics.

DTG Inks

3.      Pretreatment: the essence of washability in darks

The pretreatment technique on dark shirts could affect both print quality and washability. Too little pretreatment and images can look uneven and light. Too much pretreatment could affect adhesion. Yes, pretreatment is easy to understand, but the process requires practice.

Pretreatment issues are the most common when printing dark shirts. White DTG Ink must have a low viscosity, low enough viscosity to go through the ultra-fine inkjet nozzles. Since white ink needs to be thin, they have a tendency to soak into the fabric immediately. Pretreatment is designed to respond chemically with the white ink, gelling on contact. It is like “flash” curing in screen printing. Uneven coating will leave flaws in the layer of white ink.

4.      Fibrillation: teaching fibers to lay down and play nice

Washing out is also often caused by fibrillation, where cotton fibers extend through the ink after several washes. The spin of the yarn and how it is knit into the fabric can determine the extent of fibrillation. The results can vary widely depending on the type of garment. Always check T-shirts from each maker you use, to see which ones work best for your specific application. A second pass through the printer can increase washability on white shirts; additional layers of DTG Ink will hold down shirt fibers.

5.      Pretreatment on light garments?  It may be a good idea!

It may seem strange, but some printers will apply pretreatment to light as well as dark garments. If you want to use pretreatment on whites, remember that DTG White Ink Pretreat used on black shirts is designed primarily for the specific chemistry of the white ink. The CMYK colors are a little different. Applying white pretreatment to shirts without the white base layer could possibly cause significant image diminishing after washing the garment.

DTG Ink White Pretreat

DTG Inks Poly Pretreat

DTG Poly PreTreat is specially formulated to work with water-based textile inks to allow you to print on lights, polyesters and blended fabrics.

To read more in relation to Published T-shirt generally make sure you go this Wikipedia Site.

Other common problems that affect both printing and washability:

  • Settling of ink

Some models of direct to garment printers, when sitting idle for a while, white pigment in the ink could begin to settle and separate. If you are not using a DTG Viper or DTG M2 Garment Printer, with continually pressurized ink systems, white ink cartridges need to be agitated at least twice a day. This keeps the pigment evenly suspended. Failure to stir the white ink cartridges can cause printhead failure. Thicker white pigment is drawn into the heads, resulting in clogged nozzles.

  • Clogged printhead nozzles

Speaking of stopped up printheads, clogged nozzles are likely to end up with prints that have an insufficient amount of ink. If there are problems with the washability of a design, first check the nozzles or ask your supplier for the proper procedure for head cleaning of your specific model.

DTG Viper with DTG Ink

  • Contamination of the capping station

The capping station is one of the most significant parts of a DTG printer, made up of the pump, capping assembly and wiper.

The main role of the capping station is to attract fresh ink into the DTG Ink cartridges, so the print head has sustained ink for printing. It also keeps clean both the print nozzle and bottom of the print head, as well as sending waste ink to the waste ink container.

To get quality prints, the rubber seal of the capping station must be kept clean. This maintains a sufficient seal on the bottom of the print head. Dried or excessive ink on the seal will cause poor suction when the printer tries to purge the print head. If that should happen, perform a head cleaning, adding fresh ink to the cartridges and dampers.

  • Don’t forget the wiper assembly and pump

The wiper assembly consists two pieces of material, one fiber, the other rubber; its purpose is cleaning the bottom of the nozzle area of the printhead during cycles of head cleaning.  It is a straightforward process, which wipes off excessive ink from the bottom of the printhead.

The pump is also vital; you hear the pump running during ink purges and head cleaning process. The pump causes a slight vacuum when the printhead goes over the capping station, pulling fresh ink through the print head. Fresh ink is deposited into the capping station, then drawn up (by the same pump) and sent to the waste ink container.

DTG Printer and DTG Inks

When printing, the parts of the capping station requires daily maintenance: cleaning the wiper and capping station seal. Use a few drops of cleaning solution to the ink pad of the capping station. This will keep it moist and keep the pump and waste ink lines clean, as well as moistening the nozzle area of the printhead.

Capping station parts are regarded as consumable and replaced at a minimum once a year. It is a low-cost repair, something that every DTG printer owner should learn to repair or replace.

Colman and Company has a full line of DTG Inks to get the best performance from your DTG direct to garment printer. For more information, call 800-891-1094 or visit ColmanAndCompany.com.

Do you have any tips for getting the best washability from DTG Ink? Let us know in the comments!



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