Want to print more T-shirts an hour? Or cut down on your ink usage? Or create different finishes for your prints? Our experts explain how to get the most out of your DTG machines

Insider Tips

Checking for clearance
To print on irregular items or print surfaces, use the smallest platen available, tape any possible strike areas with a good quality tape and double check that you have sufficient print head height clearance.
Sean Barker, national sales manager, GS UK

Using a slip sheet on polyester shirts
If your printer does not allow you to thread the shirt, make sure to use a slip sheet in-between the front and back of the shirt. Failure to do so will allow ink printed on the front of the shirt to jet between the weave of the fabric and result in a light image of the design on the back inside of the shirt.
Brian Walker, CEO, Image Armor

Cotton content
The higher the cotton content of the garment you use, the better the quality of the DTG print. For best results use 100% cotton, with a close knit ring spun finish.
David Harrison, DTG Solutions

Give it a brush
Reduce the likelihood of the garment’s print face shedding loose fibres onto the print head by brushing the garment or removing the fibres with a lint roller before you start printing.
Grant Cooke, product development & campaign specialist, Xpres

File preparation
In terms of file preparation, you should apply the same image correction as you would with any image that you want to print using a digital process: properly adjust the levels and make sure that saturation and contrast are good. Also, sharpening is very important. Printing on a textile surface will ‘automatically’ soften the image and you can’t actually sharpen enough in order to compensate for this effect.
Oliver Luedtke, Kornit

Colour management
Colour management is a crucial part of the DTG printing process, as it will determine how an image will print. Make sure you are using the most accurate, up-to-date colour profiles available for your printer, and that your image is sufficiently high-res.
David Harrison, DTG Solutions

Pre-Treatment Advice

Testing times
Always carry out testing on fabrics prior to use to determine compatibility. Variations in fabrics, raw cotton, weave, dye-stuff composition, surface treatments, and pH of water used in the dye process all have an effect on the end result of the print. How the pre-treatment solution interacts with fabric surfaces plays the biggest role in the quality of a DTG print. The volume of pre-treatment solution necessary will vary based on the fabric. Generally speaking, the tighter the weave – and the least amount of fibres on the surface to be printed – the better, so a ringspun fabric usually gives the best results. If you run into an issue with dyestuff discolouring from the pre-treatment, try a different manufacturer’s pre-treatment solution. Large DTG companies keep several manufacturers’ pre-treatment chemicals on hand for this very reason.
Harvey Knapp, digital specialist, M&R

Correct application
A pre-treatment machine is recommended, which not only achieves a more even coating, but uses less ink as it allows the solution to be applied more accurately. A spray gun or roller can also be used, but it is important to apply carefully – too little pre-treatment liquid risks uneven white ink, which causes show-through of the fabric. Too much pre-treatment liquid could mean that, although the printed image looks good, after a few washes the image will lift from the fabric.
Neil Greenhalgh, product manager, Production LFP, Epson Europe

Breathable platen
Using a DTG-optimised heat press from Sefa can reduce the pre-treatment curing time due to its increased power output and breathable platen for releasing excess steam.
Grant Cooke, product development & campaign specialist, Xpres

Keeping it clean
Use a good quality machine or gun, clean it out regularly – using distilled water and suitable cleaner – and make sure all the jets are firing correctly every time you use it. Remember to leave the garment to rest after pre-treating as this will allow the solution to bind better to the fabric.
Sean Barker, national sales manager, GS UK

Pre-heat and hover
Try hovering the heat press over the pretreatment to ‘pre-heat’ the solution. This will help reduce the chances of you ending up with a pretreatment box window when you heat press the garment. For best results, try breaking the pretreatment cure time into two or three presses, allowing the steam to escape after each press. This helps reduce any discolouration and pretreating boxes.
Brian Walker, CEO, Image Armor

A day’s instruction

“If we’re installing one of our Epson SC-F6200 printers, which is a 1.2 m wide, along with an associated flatpress, we’d expect to be on site for at least a day training. That would cover the software, the printer, colour management and the house-keeping, and also the press and the effects of different temperatures, pressures, etcetera.”
Magnus Mighall, partner, R A Smart