Direct-to-garment printing is one of the most preferred print methods in the custom printing industry. The improvement in technology has not only upgraded the garments but also equipment that makes the decorating process easier and accurate as per the artwork specifications.
However, larger industrial machines are available for longer runs, and many shops use several of these machines to exclusively mass-produce DTG garments.
While we see that, custom decorating business is rapidly growing in demand, it is important to take care of your equipment and supplies.
Here, we will be discussing DTG printing ink:
10 Things you Should Know about DTG Printing Ink:
1. Do not waste ink, until you read this:
Have you heard about Titanium Dioxide? It makes up your white ink. While it is not a metal.
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It is a pigment formed from naturally occurring minerals.
It is commonly used due to its ability to reflect light back to the viewer, making it optically appear as a bright white.
Titanium dioxide often is used for applications such as reflective optical coatings, sunscreen lotions, and pigments in white inks.
Another little-known reality is that titanium dioxide is used to render it look white on edible items. So note you might be consuming TiO2 the next time you slice into a cake or cookie with white frosting.
2. Proper curing owes to high quality print:
All white inks have a specific point at which they start to cross-link or cure. Check with your manufacturer to ensure you are curing DTG inks for the proper time, at the proper temperature and with the proper pressure.
Get all the solvents out of the ink. The term “solvent” leads most people to think of bad chemicals. Most DTG Inks feature a solvent component known simply as water.
3. How curing is important:
There are many ways to cure DTG inks, most typically with a heat press. Most decorators using this method also use some type of cover sheet.
Teflon sheet or parchment paper between the ink film and heating platen. Teflon typically will cause the ink especially white-ink designs to have a shiny or glossy appearance.
Parchment paper usually results in a dull or matte finish. While using the heat press, the ink film will be flattened and smooth.
Using a conveyor dryer will result in a slightly rougher feel and resemble high-end, screen-printed shirts.
4. Shake before use:
No matter which white ink you use, it will need to be shaken because TiO2 tends to settle and can cause problems in a DTG printer. Always follow the ink or printer manufacturer’s recommendations when shaking white ink. This typically is done daily before starting the printer.
The TiO2 tends to be heavier than other white-ink components and gravitates to the bottom of the cartridge.
Ink formulations get better each year, but still, need to be shaken before use. Remember also that the white ink in the printer lines will settle after sitting for a while.
Thus, after a long weekend, the first couple of prints could include a faint white appearance when white ink is used if your printer does not recirculate it or you don’t take preventive measures to mitigate it settling in the lines.
5. Obey ink curing rules:
To cure the DTG inks, all ink producers specify a common period and temperature. Consider the size or amount of white ink that has been imprinted on a garment. A small, relatively thin area would need less curing time.
A print with a strong white-ink field, like an enlarged or double-pass portion of a pattern, can take longer to cure time.
6. CMYK vs RGB:
Why do DTG printers prefer CMYK ink for printing?
RGB is defined as an additive form of color, whereas CMYK is a subtractive type of color. You can have just about every other color depending on the percentages of each variable when red, green, and blue are combined (adding colored light to produce a similar color).
If you mix the three together in equal parts, you get white. That’s why in most art programs you get the color white if you set the maximum level (255) of the RGB colors in your palette.
DTG printers performance in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) which combine to create the impression of the millions of colors that can be replicated. CMYK halftones have been used in the past. Pot-sizes differ.
These were placed next to each other and often overlapped to create the impression that full-color images were repeated from only four colors. Screen printers also print with single-color halftones to offer the impression of the color fading from 0 percent (no dots) to a complete 100 percent fill.
7. Keep your printer clean:
Cleaning up the printer and its parts, such as wiper blades, capping points, and suction cups can help improve efficiency. Inks DTG
To the degree dry while exposed to sunlight. Dried ink on the cap surface of a capping device, which is meant to seal the print head from outside air entirely, may create an air gap.
This gap can allow air on print heads to seep in and dry the ink. Dried ink or too much residue on wipers may cause incorrect cleaning of the eyes, as well as problems with printing.
Keep the ink drain lines in mind too. Many printers provide a cleaning agent that will help keep the ink from drying and clogging the sheets.
Know, it is not just the ink you can see that will theoretically contribute to the inappropriate output of the DTG printer.
8. CMYK inks are stable:
Generally, no. Most CMYK inks are stable because of how they are formulated. If the CMYK ink sits for more than an extended period of time, shake it a bit.
But this typically is not necessary unless the manufacturer recommends it.
9. Shirt color determines the amount of white ink needed:
Since CMYK inks generally are translucent, if you print only yellow ink on a black shirt, it virtually will blend into the shirt and you won’t be able to tell it’s supposed to be yellow.
However, white under base helps provide a covering that allows the true yellow color to appear correctly. Lighter-colored shirts can take a thinner layer of white ink than a black or red (dark-colored) shirt.
Conduct any checking to decide the right settings and white-ink laydown for the job at hand, but on an ash gray shirt, you don’t need as much white ink as a black shirt! When you have to double-pass the white ink on black shirts that decreases prices and print time.
It’s currently cold outside in most parts of the world, so forced-air heaters are required to sustain reasonable room temperatures. The concern is that humidity levels in winter (and in desert areas in summer) will plunge to incredibly low levels.
A standard DTG printer can execute best with humidity ranges between 35 percent and 85 percent, the sweet spot is known as 50 percent -60 percent area. This will help keep the inks on print heads from drying prematurely.
Buy a good hygrometer, because it’s inexpensive, and place it on the printer if not nearby.
You can also see the temperature and humidity levels so that you can fix an issue of humidity until it causes a printer issue.