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[Brother GT-381] White Ink - Newbie Thread

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Old May 9th, 2015 May 9, 2015 1:47:30 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Question White Ink - Newbie Thread

Hello GT3'ers

Writing to you from Bangkok, Thailand. I've been running my GT 381 in 341 mode for a few months and have finally made the white plunge. Finally installed the 4 white print heads that have been sitting on my desk staring at me like abandoned babies on the street.

It's been a week now and I'm starting go bald. No, it's not that bad, but I believe I'm close to mastering this love-hate relationship with the white ink. Lots of hours spent traversing these forums looking for the right way to handle this, and still so many questions. So I thought I'd ask the basic and non basic questions to combine all the white ink wisdom into one summarized easy-to-read thread for newbies like me.

GT3 wizards and power users, please share your 2 cents. It will be greatly appreciated.

1) Daily maintenance:
- Shake cartridges upside down for 30s each.
- Run Daily White Cleaning function
- Nozzle check white
- When do we use White Agitation function?
- Anything else?

2) Weekend maintenance:
- Can I get away with neglecting the machine for 2 days?

3) Weekly maintenance:
- Tube cleaning function with maintenance fluid
- Anything else?

4) Monthly maintenance:
- What are they?

5) Pretreat
- Due to space and noise issues, I'm using a regular hand held spray bottle for spraying pretreat. This is giving uneven coverage (drops + mist). Any solutions?
- Must wear gloves + mask?

6) Printing
- Successfully printed on denim, but not black tee yet
- Consensus seems to be Highlight 7 Mask 4
- What about other settings? (Choke width, etc)

7) Curing
- Print considerably duller after 30s @ 180c. Any solutions?
- White ink sticks to press a little bit after curing. Solutions?

8) White ink life (assuming low usage)
- Some say 30 days, some 90. Any definitive lifespan?

9) Any "Rogues" out there not following the recommended care in the manual and getting away with it (with success in saving white ink)?
- For example, running Weekly tube cleaning every 2 weeks instead of every week (JUST AN EXAMPLE)

10) Anything else not covered?

I definitely do not regret adding this capacity but I do miss the simplicity of just CMYK.

I make this comparison with my staff all the time - 341 mode is like living a care free bachelor life, with no responsibilities, come and go whenever you please. Whereas 381 is like the first few years of parenthood. Lots of chores and responsibilities, trial and error trying to satisfy a whiney white ink baby, but in the end it makes you all the better for it. You wonder how you ever lived without it.

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!
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Old May 9th, 2015 May 9, 2015 8:33:13 AM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

wow, lots of questions but more than happy to help another Brother out (terrible pun intended)!

1) Daily maintenance:
- Run Daily White Cleaning function
- When do we use White Agitation function?

My advice: Unless you have had the printer sit for over 24 hours OR have not been printing much white ink consider doing the White Agitation only and skip the Daily White Cleaning function. The less you print and the more you leave the white ink idle the more settlement happens. If you are consistently printing white ink throughout the previous day than skip the Daily White as it's overkill imo.


2) Weekend maintenance:
- Can I get away with neglecting the machine for 2 days?
Sure can. I wouldn't go any more then 2 days at a time though. Do a daily white clean after coming back. If longer than 2 days do your White Tube Cleaning and leave the solution in there.

3) Weekly maintenance:
- Tube cleaning function with maintenance fluid
- Anything else?
Clean the capping station, wiper blades, print heads with a swab after. May as well remove all the excess/dried/dirty ink while you're at it.

4) Monthly maintenance:
- What are they?
Inspect all consumable parts and replace if necessary
Do a white tube cleaning.
Do an extensive clean of capping station, blades, print heads
Follow everything else Brother and your tech has recommended



5) Pretreat
- Due to space and noise issues, I'm using a regular hand held spray bottle for spraying pretreat. This is giving uneven coverage (drops + mist). Any solutions?
If you are serious about growing your DTG and offering the best possible results, get yourself an automatic pretreatment machine. This should be your priority investment right now IMO. Save yourself the hassle of inconsistent PT and your issues with space & noice. The sooner you invest the better.


- Must wear gloves + mask?
Get yourself an Automatic PT machine and you wont have to worry about this at all. I never wore mask or gloves but I sprayed outside

6) Printing
- Successfully printed on denim, but not black tee yet
- Consensus seems to be Highlight 7 Mask 4
- What about other settings? (Choke width, etc)
Nice work printing on denim! Do show us the results here. If you can do that, black tee won't be a problem for you. 7-4 is a good setting for solid white and colours. Experiment yourself because every garment is different.

Leave choke, width, etc default. Learn what these fucntions do via the manual and adjust only if required.
Invest in the Digital Factory RIP for more control over settings and better ink control.


7) Curing
- Print considerably duller after 30s @ 180c. Any solutions?
This is to be expected with curing any waterbased ink. After printing the ink is glossy from the moisture still around. Heat it up and the moisture disappears, you lose some gloss and vibrancy. Using a teflon sheet as opposed to Kraft paper will add some glossiness to the print

- White ink sticks to press a little bit after curing. Solutions?
a) Use a sheet such as silicone treated parchment paper, silicone sheets or teflon sheets between the print and heatpress. This will stop any direct contact between the ink and heatpress platen.
b) Hover the heatpress over the design about 1cm for aroudn 20 seconds. This can be done manually or invest in a heatpress with hover function (like GeoKnights)


8) White ink life (assuming low usage)
- Some say 30 days, some 90. Any definitive lifespan?
Expiration Dates are on the carts themselves. Use that as a reference. Keep the inks well shaken daily even if not being used.

9) Any "Rogues" out there not following the recommended care in the manual and getting away with it (with success in saving white ink)?
- For example, running Weekly tube cleaning every 2 weeks instead of every week (JUST AN EXAMPLE)
There seems to be plenty of us here that adhere to a 2 week schedule of white tube cleaning instead of the recommended 1 week. The caveat here is that you need to be printing consistently and with decent volume. Use 20 white ink t-shirts a day as a benchmark. If you haven't reach this mark, continue your weekly clean and factory recommended schedule.

10) Anything else not covered?
Keep printing!

Hope this post helps you and others who are starting their white ink journey. Be happy knowing you're using the easiest and stress-free white ink printer on the market.
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Old May 9th, 2015 May 9, 2015 10:00:32 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Wow! Thank you for taking the time to reply. Appreciate you helping a Brother from another distributor out.

- Been doing Daily White cleaning for 2 weeks, although I've only been printing 1 or 2 sample prints a day at the moment. Production will ramp up in the next few weeks, so I will go ahead with agitation for now.

- I'm not sure that we have automatic pre-treatment machines here yet. The Brother GT3 only JUST arrived through authorized distributors this year.

- Here's the successful denim print.

- Noted on the teflon sheet. My heat press moves sideways, not upwards, so I'm able to hover it over the material before pressing.

Thanks again!

Looking forward to hearing other's experiences as well!
 
 
Old May 10th, 2015 May 10, 2015 12:18:42 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by evolution144
Wow! Thank you for taking the time to reply. Appreciate you helping a Brother from another distributor out.

- Been doing Daily White cleaning for 2 weeks, although I've only been printing 1 or 2 sample prints a day at the moment. Production will ramp up in the next few weeks, so I will go ahead with agitation for now.

- I'm not sure that we have automatic pre-treatment machines here yet. The Brother GT3 only JUST arrived through authorized distributors this year.

- Here's the successful denim print.

- Noted on the teflon sheet. My heat press moves sideways, not upwards, so I'm able to hover it over the material before pressing.

Thanks again!

Looking forward to hearing other's experiences as well!
Since you are doing minimal prints, keep the Daily White cleaning going. You need to keep that white ink moving. I'd even recommend printing even more samples or free t-shirts. You may as well use the ink wasted in the Daily White Clean on sample t-shirts.

Beg your distributor to get a Automatic PT. You can also import it directly. I recommend the Speedtreater TX from Equipmentzone.

If you stick with hand spraying, get the best sprayer you can get. Are you using the Wagner or another brand?

That design on the denim looks great!
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Old May 11th, 2015 May 11, 2015 2:30:25 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

How many cc's does the Daily White Cleaning flush? I'll use exactly that many cc's so I can avoid it and run agitation instead.

Got good results today with black shirts, but damn, it's a lotta cc's used! Been used to 0.5 - 2 cc with white tees, now I'm using 6+ per shirt.

I'm definitely going to get that pre-treater. Thanks a lot for your advice. I'm currently using some low grade hand spray but I'll get my hands on a Wagner while I wait for the PTer.
 
Old May 11th, 2015 May 11, 2015 2:59:37 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Only Brother knows how many CC's is in a Daily White Clean. You can choose to do 50%-100% in one of the menu settings.

6cc would be a pretty big print or heavy coverage. You can lesson the amount of CC used by using a 3rd party rip like Digital Factory.
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Old May 19th, 2015 May 19, 2015 1:31:31 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Finally got some pretty good results with black shirts! Done through a combination pretreating for longer with an air compressor + Digital Factory.

I also noticed that in the Brother CookBook, they stated that anything with white ink should be dried through a conveyor or a box rather than a heat press. I have neither so I used my heat gun to dry it. Getting pretty bright results.

As for the Speedtreater, I might have to hold off, as now I'm gonna be buying the Digital Factory so I guess I'll spend a few bucks to ventilate the pretreatment area. Gotta save $$$.

Downside is, I've got a 2 month lead-up to my business with low ink usage. It looks like I'm just gonna be wasting the ink away. Any advice for this? I hear switching to 361 is a pain.
 
Old May 19th, 2015 May 19, 2015 2:25:22 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by evolution144
...

I also noticed that in the Brother CookBook, they stated that anything with white ink should be dried through a conveyor or a box rather than a heat press. I have neither so I used my heat gun to dry it. Getting pretty bright results.

...
We use a heat press for all our white ink prints... they look great. We recently shifted from spray gun to pre-treat machine, which has speeded up the process, but has also given us one more machine to maintain.
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Old May 20th, 2015 May 20, 2015 5:59:46 AM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Your distributor didn't sell you a heat press!? :O !!!! This is absolutely the next purchase you need. No wonder you haven't got a good white ink print yet. Pretreatment must be heatpressed to dry and flatten it out. Get one ASAP. Forget Digital Factory before you get a Heat Press.

Don't worry about the tunnel dryer its not really worth it with just one printer and low production. A good heatpress is what you need (one with hover function like the GeoKnight)
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Old May 25th, 2015 May 25, 2015 3:06:06 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Using Digital Factory is definitely a good idea to have bette control over ink usage. But a heat press is the only thing you need to get hold of now as suggested by Zhen!

I have attached a picture of white ink printed on a black tee using the default 600 dpi settings on DF. Personally, it is not comparable with a pure white print via screen printing or vinyl.

So it would be great to know if it's also the same for other users out there? I could increase the underbase (highlight in PDIP) to get better white, but I read that in 600 dpi it's not recommend?

Any thoughts on the white print, if it's something you will put out to customers?
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Old June 1st, 2015 Jun 1, 2015 8:49:54 PM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

I definitely do have a heat press!!! I meant I didn't have a conveyor belt or a box.

I use the heat press to dry the pretreament solution, and use a hand dryer to cure.

SIDE BUT IMPORTANT OBSERVATION:

I've been using this machine for low to medium level printing since mid-february. I've been printing a lot of CMYK and I still don't have to change any of them.

My whites on the other hand - installed early May, now 3 cartridges are empty! Daily Cleaning has been really draining the whites. AARRGGGHHH!!! I'm wishing I never upgraded right now...but I'm sure I'll be eating my words once my main business starts in August.
 
Old June 1st, 2015 Jun 1, 2015 9:27:29 PM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Hey Sunny...I think it's normal. Most of my cmyk prints are around 1cc and even less when printing on dark.
As reference, my current set of CMYK is still going strong though my whites are already on the 3rd set. I'm on the GT 381.
 
Old June 1st, 2015 Jun 1, 2015 9:48:39 PM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by evolution144
I definitely do have a heat press!!! I meant I didn't have a conveyor belt or a box.

I use the heat press to dry the pretreament solution, and use a hand dryer to cure.

SIDE BUT IMPORTANT OBSERVATION:

I've been using this machine for low to medium level printing since mid-february. I've been printing a lot of CMYK and I still don't have to change any of them.

My whites on the other hand - installed early May, now 3 cartridges are empty! Daily Cleaning has been really draining the whites. AARRGGGHHH!!! I'm wishing I never upgraded right now...but I'm sure I'll be eating my words once my main business starts in August.
How come you aren't using your heatpress to cure after printing? Seems like way too much effort to use a hand dryer and it wouldn't be ideal either. Use the heatpress to cure pretreatment and your prints after printing. I'll be surprised if your prints wash well with a hand dryer. Do let me know I'm curiour .

3 White carts sounds like a crazy amount for just a month, even with Daily white cleans. Have you changed the setting so it is 50-80% for daily white cleans?

Short term pain, long term gain. You won't regret white ink print and its impact for your business once you get rolling.
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Old June 1st, 2015 Jun 1, 2015 10:15:36 PM -   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

When I use the heatpress on white ink printed tshirts, the teflon sheet gets really stuck to it. The color is also 50% less bright. I'll let you know wash tests.

I'll make sure to reduce the daily white cleaning amount. Thanks for that. Just read that part in the cookbook as well.

I agree - short term pain, long term gain!
 
Old June 1st, 2015 Jun 1, 2015 11:14:15 PM -   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: White Ink - Newbie Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by evolution144
When I use the heatpress on white ink printed tshirts, the teflon sheet gets really stuck to it. The color is also 50% less bright. I'll let you know wash tests.

I'll make sure to reduce the daily white cleaning amount. Thanks for that. Just read that part in the cookbook as well.

I agree - short term pain, long term gain!
- Try hover the heatpress 1 cm above the print for around 20 seconds. This will set the colour layer and will reduce it sticking to the teflon sheet
- 50% less bright is pretty crazy. Try the hover press option first it should help this too. You should always expect some loss of vibrancy after heat pressing as you are removing moisture from the ink
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