In the new world of Direct to Garment printing there is a new term being used. That term is pre-treatment and pre-treatment solution.
This is a process used when printing on dark shirts with water based inks. The pre-treatment is like a primer to make the ink adhere to a cotton garment. This prevents the inks from migrating through the fabric which will create a faded or ugly color finish. It is a mandatory process when direct to garment printing on dark shirts that a pre-treatment be used.
Printing on white shirts is not a problem because the CYMK will work perfect. It is the white ink when printing on darks that creates problems. The white ink has to be applied before printing the dark inks on dark colored shirts. Think white background so the colors will be vibrant and jump out at you. The pretreatment prevents the white ink from soaking into the shirts and distorting the colors.
Some ink manufacturers recommend you wear a respirator and wear protective clothing when applying the pre-treatment solution. This is awkward and not condusive to production efficiency.
There are three methods to apply pre-treatment.
The slowest process
The slowest is to use a hand held print sprayer loaded with solution. This spraying is really time consuming as you have to heat the shirts after applying the solution in a heat press machine to get the pretreatment to fix itself to the garment and make it ready for printing.
Second method is slightly better
The second method is to use a machine specifically designed to apply the pre-treatment solution. The machine looks like a dryer. It does have a conveyor belt which you put the shirt on and then send through the tunnel to be sprayed with the pre-treatment. Coming out of the tunnel the shirt still has to be heated and pressed in a clam shell heat seal machine to make ready for printing.. Again you have poor productivity.
Kornit process is the best
The third method which is the best is that the pre-treatment and printing is done is one process. The shirt is put on the platen and sent through the printer. The process is apply pre-treatment then in the next step is to apply the ink. (all in one step) The final step is to run the shirt through a dryer and it is ready to deliver to your customer.
This process is the best, most efficient and patent protected. Other companies do not and cannot offer this system for printing. The key is the patent which protects the complete system.
Productivity is fantastic with the new Kornit printers achieving a speed of 60 shirts to 200 per hour. At Deco Source (formerly Northwest Embroidery) we have the largest Kornit plant in the Pacific Northwest.