Creating a finished product using a t shirt printing machine and printing on a white t-shirt or other white textile requires little preparation of the garment in advance. but with DTG Printers like the DTG Viiper, M2 or M4 you have the highly profitable capability of printing directly onto dark garments as well and that requires "pretreating".
STEP 1: Preparing to print on dark t-shirts with DTG
STEP 2: Creating Your Graphics
All garment embellishments have to start somewhere. With direct to garment printing the work generally begins at the computer. All DTG’s need good, clean artwork to produce the best prints on your garments. Good artwork starts with professional quality graphics software like CorelDRAW, Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.
Of course, the quality of the image you start with makes a big impact on the end result. By following a few basic guidelines in regards to resolution and background you will find it easy to design or tailor artwork to produce high quality images.
If you are not artistically inclined there are a number of clipart and template programs on the marketplace that will streamline the process for you. The general rule of direct to garment printing is that if the image looks good, printed at the size you will be printing it when printed on your desktop inkjet printer, then the image will look good on a t-shirt.
That being said, don’t underestimate the importance of becoming proficient in your graphics software. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer specialized training in these off the shelf design packages. Secondarily you can attend industry tradeshows where more specialized training is available or purchase training DVD’s and books written by garment decoration experts that provide valuable tips and tricks to maximize the “WOW” value of your artwork.
STEP 3: Printing on a DTG Printer
Direct to garment printers generally require a specialized software package called a Raster Image Processor (RIP) to print properly. Primarily, the RIP is simply a printing utility that translates the image you created into a format that allows you the most control over the end result.
Modern RIP Software, like the application that comes with your DTG Printer from ColDesi, also generates the white ink underbase required to print on dark garments, controls the amount of white and color ink laid down and color matching as well as other functions such as multi-shirt image placement and ink cost calculation. So it basically operates as a job management and cost management applicaton as well as a color management software.
Your DTG printer will come with a RIP configured with the most common settings for the printer – and your DTG training class will go over the process of creating specific print settings for your application.
STEP 4: Finishing your Garment
Once your printer is done printing the shirt you will need to cure the garment to set the inks to insure maximum washability.
Typical cure times range from 2-3 minutes at 340’ F, some garments may allow you to cure at slightly higher temperatures for shorter periods of time – but you will need to test them individually – remember – the way a shirt washes will often impact future sales!
You will learn in your DTG training about different finishes you can get on your prints based on the type of curing sheet you use – Teflon, parchment, release sheets, even embroidery backing material will all give different results.
The key hardware decision in this part of the process is which heat press you select for your business. ColDesi sells the GeoKnight line, and typically recommends the DK20 or DK20S models for their superior performance, warranty and low cost. These models are what WE use!