Direct to Garment printing can be exciting and rewarding, but from time to time we tend to get a little ahead of ourselves when it comes to diving in, head first. While the process of DTG is nowhere near as complicated and fickle as it was only a few short years ago, it is still absolutely important to understand the critical learning curve you will experience as a new user in the field.
In order to ensure the greatest chances of overall success, and to avoid stumbling right out of the gate, we encourage you to consider these following bits of advice if you are currently expecting (or have recently received) your new DTG printing hardware.
STUFF NEW USERS SHOULD GENERALLY AVOID
- Booking jobs before your equipment arrives – You must understand there will be a (sometimes) long and difficult learning curve to overcome when you first start out with Direct to Garment printing. If your machine has not even arrived yet and you are already under the gun to deliver orders to waiting clients, the stress of setup and initial training will become practically overwhelming. We fully understand the excitement of new print processes coming into your shop, but working your way through the learning curve is going to be far more palatable if you don’t have clients breathing down your neck in the process.
- Refilling your own ink bags or cartridges – Refilling your own bags or cartridges can be a truly cost-saving measure, which may yield substantial savings on ink in the long run. However, the process is fickle and requires careful control of a number of variables – at this early stage in the game, your time is better spent learning the fundamentals of your hardware as it was meant to be run, and understanding the complexity of the RIP and pretreatment processes. In an effort to save a few bucks on your first few ink refills, you may inadvertently introduce air bubbles or contaminants into the lines which could potentially compromise the entire system. Additionally, the manual process can be time consuming and messy, quickly negating any short-term effects. In the beginning, stick to using the bags and cartridges filled by professionals, and work your way toward a more complex process. You’ll thank us, later.
- Attempting to print complex garments – Some folks receive their DTG equipment and immediately attempt to print on long sleeves, sweatpants, blended materials and all manner of complicated garments. Without establishing a base line standard, it is nearly impossible to gauge the true performance and quality of your machine while introducing so many different variables at such an early stage of the game. In the beginning, stick with high quality ringspun cotton garments with a proven track record, and work your way out from there. In some cases, new users will spend countless hours, days and weeks trying to figure out why they can’t get a decent print, only to finally discover that the blended material they are trying to use is not properly accepting the ink or the sweatpant legs are too complicated to keep level…. Once you have a solid understanding of the basics, then you can flex your true creativity by printing on complicated garment styles and locations.
- Altering default printing environments without proper understanding – Understanding how your manufacturer intended the hardware to interact with their respective RIP choice is critical – too often, users jump to the conclusion that they must be using the wrong print settings without ever exploring other variables (such as their PT process, selected garment type, etc). This can cause new users to dive into the RIP with the intention of “making it work”, but they often create a ripple-effect of consequences which prevent them from getting back to the intended quality point. The first step is always to ensure the basic fundamentals are in place for high quality DTG printing, then as you begin to understand the various levels of RIP control you can dive in a little deeper and truly go wild!
- … We will add more as they come to mind.
Being an overzealous new user can seem exciting for a moment, but may cause you to stumble on some of the most basic of fundamentals – and make no mistake about it, Direct to Garment printing is all about the fundamentals!
Of course, this is merely a simplified list and there are many more things to avoid, as a new user in the field of Direct to Garment printing. Feel free to offer any suggestions and tips in the comments below, and we will be sure to add some of the best ones to our list!
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