With the advent of ultra modern tech, screen printing has suddenly got competition when it comes to full colour printing on to garments. No longer do you need to create expensive silk screens, or use potentially harmful inks, everything can now be done on everyone's favourite gadget, the home computer!
Although you're gonna need some pretty expensive equipment to produce prints that are any good, all you need is a basic computer, some good software, and a really high tech laser, or better still, solvent printer. Assuming you've got these to hand, you now need to fight your way through the myriad of different substrates (paper's to you and me) you want to print on to. While you're deciding what paper you think you like best, you have to consider where the image is eventually going to end up as it's final destination, and what sort of impact the pressing process is going to have on the final article. In most cases, a basic transfer film is going to do the job (for us at least). This basic film, with outstanding PU properties, will accept solvent and eco solvent inks beautifully, and produce excellent results every time, and in our case, it's all we need.....thank you very much. That is of course, until you want to print onto a dark garment.....bummer!
Enter the OKI Pro8432WT A3 White Toner printer! Now, with a little fiddling about, and about three different presses before it gets near a T Shirt (or any other garment), you can produce excellent, full colour prints, straight of the printer.....and it prints all the white bits as well! Amazing! The images this thing produces are fabulous (assuming your art work is any good), very soft and very durable, but man! the price of the paper it has to print on is shocking! Still, if you get what you're looking for in the end, I'll take one! We use one of these babies to produce some of our garments when direct to garment is not an option (or is specifically rejected by the customer).
Talking of Direct To Garment (DTG). Some might say it's almost witchcraft the way a DTG printer works. Put a T Shirt in a frame, press a button, wait a minute or so, and hey presto! You've got yourself one fantastic looking new T Shirt! Of course it's not quite as simple as that, but honestly, direct to garment printers are quite amazing. Bear in mind though, you have to start with quality artwork, if you don't, then just like a printer said to me many years ago, 'you put shit in, you get shit out!' The moral of the story? Don't send us shitty images! Seriously though, it makes sense.
Direct to garment printers are (almost) the way forward. If they ever get to a stage where you don't need to pre-treat your dark garments with incredibly expensive pre-treatment solutions, and the cost of the inks come down to a much more reasonable price, then screen printers around the world are going to have a very big problem! Apart from the expense, the only flaw of DTG printing is that the image sits on top of the garment, and although very durable, it is not as soft as a screen print, nor indeed a white toner print. They are still fabulous though, and you will love the finished item when you get one!
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