Garment Printing With White Ink Can Be A Challenge, But Well Worth It

Jerid Hill with ColDesi, Inc.

by Jerid Hill – DTG Product Manager and Industry Pioneer

The Early Days

When the DTG (direct to garment) printing industry was born, manufacturers and distributors of DTG equipment were not able to print white ink. It was non-existent on the open market.

But soon this new industry would be introduced to white ink printing, with all the excitement and added complications that come with it.

There were lots of problems in the beginning.  The pigments in the white ink would settle to the bottom of the container by the end of each day.   And, it was difficult to push those large particles of ink through an inkjet printhead.  But the industry demanded it, and so the garment printing white ink solution was born.

 

Overcome Your Apprehensions

It’s no wonder that people who have heard of those former problems are even today still apprehensive about purchasing a DTG printer with white ink.  We even make a version that is CMYK only for printing on only white or light garments. Printing them just for that purpose

Yes, garment printing with white ink can be a slow and frustrating process, but when it’s done right (along with a targeted business model), DTG white ink printing can be extremely profitable.

The learning curve for DTG is much higher for someone who is not a technical person. Adding white ink printing to the mix means you’ll need to raise your education bar from a simple understanding to complete comprehension.

 

Learn the Basics, Then Move On

Why is it harder for non-techies?  Simple…  -Information overload!

We always encourage our customers, if they have no experience with DTG garment printing, to start out with CMYK inks only. Print on white and light colored shirts first before you move onto printing on dark garments which require the white ink.

Learn the system, the RIP, the electronics, mechanics, and maintenance. Once you get this down, and you begin to feel more comfortable using the printer, then you can move on to printing with white ink.

 

We’ve Learned To Manage White Ink Delivery And Application

The DTG printers and ink itself, have come a long way. The white ink is consistently jettable, which means it takes much longer to separate.   We’ve learned the master level techniques for dtg printing

And nowadays, our flagship printer the M2 incorporates our unique WIMS system (White Ink Management System).  It keeps the white ink continually mixed and ready to digitally print on shirts.

The difference in maintenance when going from not using white ink to using white ink is only slightly more.  And, even though maintenance is critical to a well running printer, it’s not the main cause of concern.

 

The other side of the equation is making sure that your pre-treatment process is handled correctly as well.

 

Pretreating Properly For Beautiful Prints

When it comes to pretreating, there are many variables to consider. The shirt color, the weight, the fabric, weave, it’s brand and model, and even where it’s manufactured.  All these things play key roles in a properly pretreated garment printing job.

 

Up to this point, most users would apply pretreatment with a paint sprayer, some with mixed results,  Even early on, automated systems were being developed to tackle this process.  Since that time pretreating equipment has become necessary for efficient and consistent results.

 

Learn as Much as You Can | White Ink Problems are Mostly a Thing of the Past

Even though we encourage new owners to purchase all of their equipment up front, it is always a great idea to take the learning process step by step.

 

With pretreat systems like the Spider Mini, we’ve simplified the pretreating process and designed systems to help control the variables.   Take it slow in the beginning to avoid overload.  Don’t load up your work schedule with tons of white ink jobs from day one!  If you take the learning in stride, you’ll retain the information much more quickly.

 

So, today the question of whether you should wait to print with white ink, really should be, how quickly can I master the garment printing process and move on mastering white ink.

 

The sooner you understand the entire CMYK process, the quicker you can adopt white ink printing with success.  Now that we’ve had time to refine the DTG experience, we see some of these early adopters re-investing in direct to garment equipment with the white ink with renewed vigor and success.  And it only gets better from here.