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Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

 
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Old July 20th, 2011 Jul 20, 2011 12:02:50 PM -   #1 (permalink)
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Default Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

When I was at FESPA in Hamburg, many people were saying to me that the NeoFlex printed shirt was far more vibrant than anything else they'd seen! Although true, I thought they were just being kind but, it got me thinking.

Last weekend I had to print 4 black shirts so, I did 3 at once, that is, I used 3 platens all loaded & printed in two passes - white/colour, followed by 1 single shirt. When the shirts were cured, Angie folded them for packing and commented that 3 of the shirts were super bright colours while the 1 printed on its own, was not quite the same. We hung all the shirts on hangers and there was an obvious difference! Don't get me wrong, all 4 shirts were good but 3 of the 4 were exceptional.

I printed a few more shirts and discovered a difference between the shirt printed on its own, compared to the 3 shirts printed at once - the 3 at once were considerably more vibrant!

The reason for this is the time allowed for the white ink to dry, at least, this is my theory as there was no other difference in the printing process. When doing 3 shirts the time between the white and colour passes is probably 3 times longer than that for a single shirt. Just to prove my theory, I set about printing one shirt and stopping after the white layer, waiting a few minutes and then printing the colour pass. I was able to print a single shirt and get the same, exceptional vibrancy of the 3 - hope that makes sense?

I know speed is important but for me, I want the quality too or at least the choice! The ability of my NeoFlex to print 3 at a time is also very important, especially when printing any quantities. Fortunately, I have the choice of speed &/or quality as, with my NeoFlex I can get the speed with the RIP's specially developed 'Production Mode environment' or quality, with the 'HiRes environment'. About time I made a discovery!

I recall a thread about ‘One Pass Fast’ (only available in Europe). One Pass Fast is when the white layer is printed at the same time as the coloured layer. It was produced for the European market as its output is a more 'muted' colour printed shirt. This seems to be the result of a trade-off between the speed of some DTG printers and the quality of others.

This is the post I referred to:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don-ColDesi
The European DTG marketplace is more fashion driven and the images tend to be more tonal and muted than the typical graphics we print here in the "colonies". Many images we print here are bright spot color type jobs which do not lend themselves well to the process used for one pass fast on the DTG brand printers. The majority of graphics we tried to print here with the process came out faded compared to those that were printed with the traditional two pass technology.......

Is this perhaps the reason why a faster DTG printer doesn't produce such a bright & vibrant image - the white ink doesn't benefit from the longer drying time before the colour is printed? I've read quite a few threads on TSF about disappointing prints from faster machines. Speed it seems, isn't everything!
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Last edited by Stitch-Up; July 20th, 2011 at 09:03 PM..
 
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Old July 20th, 2011 Jul 20, 2011 1:24:52 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stitch-Up
Is this perhaps the reason why a faster DTG printer doesn't produce such a bright & vibrant image - the white ink doesn't benefit from the longer drying time before the colour is printed?
John,

I think the important thing to understand is how the different pretreat fluids react with the different viscosity of white inks. When you are printing a higher amount of fluid because the print head has smaller drop sizes (which requires more carrier fluid to get the amount of white pigment), it does take a little longer for the pretreat to have a chemical reaction to gel the white ink to allow for a better underbase for printing the CMYK colors on top of it. When you switch to a higher viscosity ink (like many of the manufacturers are doing or will be doing soon based on the rumors), there is less carrier fluid needed in the ink to apply the same amount of white pigments. Thus, the pretreat fluid will typically react faster to gel the ink. So I do agree if you were comparing the same viscosity of ink that printing too fast can affect your output. However, going to a thicker ink may not result in the same effect that you discovered.

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.

Mark
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Old July 20th, 2011 Jul 20, 2011 3:31:28 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

One of our Secerts is revealed. Good post John.
Yes, white ink requires settling time not drying time (chemical reaction). Especially on DuPont ink. Our exprience tells few minutes plus between white and colors for best print result. I don't know who you are our team or double agent? haha joke. I know so sure that you are NeoUncle!
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Last edited by allamerican; July 20th, 2011 at 03:38 PM..
 
 
Old July 21st, 2011 Jul 21, 2011 10:06:15 AM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

This is very true, for anyone who has been working from the early machines to the later ones will know that there is always a performance vs quality relationship. The slower you print on inkjets the better quality you can achieve.

Printing 2-3 (or even 6) shirts at a time gives the white time to settle and the color goes on much better (doesnt mix so much into the white).
US Screen discovered this when they went from the TJet to the Jumbo machines and why the Blazer was built as a 3up and why Zazzle configured there work flow for the Blazer Pro (3up rather than the Express 1up).

On 1800 / 1900 which can print much faster you can hit a bit of a wall where you print the white so fast and then start the color it can be a real issue.

Its why you need to calibrate your white, so you put down just enough (and not more), its easy to over ink on white but it wont settle as fast if you can get your white volume to what you need and no more then it will settle faster and be able to print the color on it faster.
You can get away without calibrating the white on a 4800, but on any 1800 / 1900 machines if you use 1440x1440 for the white you have to calibrate the white ink.

Best regards

-David
 
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Old July 23rd, 2011 Jul 23, 2011 11:03:27 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Great observation John, you are absolutely correct. Have you also noticed how well the white ink layer settles when an adequate amount of dry time is given. This rich flat white base is what allows your colors to be so vibrant as well. Without that type of white underbase there are simply colors that you will be unable to achieve.
 
Old February 2nd, 2014 Feb 2, 2014 4:15:20 PM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Resurrecting a very old thread for a follow up by those involved or new folks.

Does this situation still happen? Anyone try comparing with IA pretreat over DuPont?

I assume if I have 4 shirts to print, it would be better to do 2 at a time rather than 3+1 if this is still a concern for brightness and quality?
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Old February 3rd, 2014 Feb 3, 2014 12:35:19 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Quote:
Originally Posted by treefox2118
Resurrecting a very old thread for a follow up by those involved or new folks.

Does this situation still happen? Anyone try comparing with IA pretreat over DuPont?
I don't use Image Armour so I can't comment on that aspect.

With regards to your other point I believe it depends on several factors, the main one being the amount of time the white has to dry before the CMYK is printed. This can vary of course depending on the print profile being used (Hi-Res or Lo-Res) and the size of the print. On large prints the white ink has longer to dry than on small prints.

I remember when I went to see a demo of the DTG K3 One-Pass-Fast. The white ink and the CMYK were printed in the same pass. It looked good on specially selected images BUT, there was a trade off with most type of images in that vivid bold colours turned out like pastel colours!! This was due to the white (not quite dry) mixing with the CMYK.

I do believe all DTG printers that lay the white at the same time or in the same pass suffer from this issue - call it what you will, One Pass Fast or Inline Printing, the outcome is compromised on most artwork. This is of course my opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by treefox2118
Resurrecting a very old thread for a follow up by those involved or new folks.

I assume if I have 4 shirts to print, it would be better to do 2 at a time rather than 3+1 if this is still a concern for brightness and quality?
Based on my comments above, maybe
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Old February 3rd, 2014 Feb 3, 2014 7:28:38 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

in my work flow, i would do 2 & 2. i just think it's more efficient than doing 3, and then having to wait for the white underbase to gel on the 4th before printing the cmyk. depending on your artwork, you may want to still pause even when printing 2. just send the white layer first. and then the cmyk layer separately.
 
Old February 3rd, 2014 Feb 3, 2014 8:06:56 AM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Appreciate the responses, and that makes a lot of sense to me.

Part of our work flow software (in-house written) accounts for printing time AND touch time. For me, it's far more important to schedule and plan touch time than printing time.

Example: If I have 10 shirts to print today, and the touch time is 2+2 minutes per shirt, but the print time is 10 minutes, it makes little sense to print one shirt right after the other. It makes more sense for an employee to print 1 shirt every 48 minutes, and use the rest of the time for their other jobs.

Efficient workflow begets happy employees and good profits. Tying someone up to staring at the printer is senseless, as it pulling them away from an active job to go change shirts on platens inefficiently.

I also need to properly plan at what point (shirts per week, lets say) I should buy a second printer. It all is resolved when one has planned workflow efficiency correctly.
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Old February 4th, 2014 Feb 4, 2014 11:02:59 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Getting BETTER Prints from my NeoFlex DTG Printer

Definitely the 2+2.. or with the 10 shirts 3+3+2+2.. besides the additional time.. you can just put the 2 shirt print and press 2 copies and have the continuous workflow instead of setting up 3 and then resetting the artwork or having to bring the printer to its home base manually.
 






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