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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've posted a few threads regarding issues with inks and washability with my dtg prints. I am new to it all so it is taking a lot of figuring out, the issue is I don't seem top be making any progress, just washing t shirts and ink.

A few washes and the inks are cracking perpendicular to the cotton grain. If stretched at all....they crack easily running with the cotton grain fibres (vertically) Is this normal? I have plastisol ink transfers and the inks hard and much, much more resistant to cracking when stretched, and also resistant to being scraped with a fingernail.

My question is, how durable are water based inks meant to be with dtg machines? I can scrape at the ink with my nail and it doesn't seem to take a lot to scratch it off. I don't know if this is indicative of an issue with the process, or this is just how they are.

My cousins been doing dtg prints for me and I've compared a few test prints I have done to his, and mine inks seem softer. Some seem better than others.

A common suggestion was I was putting too much pretreat down, But I have a resolute r treat machine and have tried everything from 70% speed to 100% and it's no different. I literally cant put any less on a shirt than the speed on 100%.

The nozzle puts down a heavy spraying of pretreat in the middle, more than the outer edges, so there is around 2 inches where the amount of pretreat that is being applied is less. Resolute said this is fine as it will still be putting enough down. They said it will put more down in the centre than the outer edges.


I am getting very frustrated.

I also have lines running through my prints in the magenta and oranges / red and also slightly on cyan, when printing onto a dark shirts / white underbase. I assumed the worst and that I had blocked nozzles, but the nozzle check shows a perfect result. The head, lines, ink carts, capping station and dampers are brand new.

The printer is meticulously cleaned and shows a perfect nozzle check, and perfect prints on white shirts. DTG is getting old and very fast with me.


Any suggestions? Other than sell it all and forget the idea.

Could this happen with too much white underbase? Could it be that simple?

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I'm no DTG guru, so will limit my comments to suggesting that generally when any type of fabric ink cracks, it is due to undercuring (or overcuring :p ).

I screen print opaque water based inks and cure with a heat press, so similar ink and curing process. What equipment, time, and temp are you using to cure?

Okay, one thought on the streaking of the colors over the white base. Perhaps the there needs to be a bit of "air drying" time before the colors are laid on top of the white? In screen printing, one flashes the underbase white to dry the it enough so the subsequent colors sit on top of it rather than blending in to it. If I remember right, some DTG setups can do two underbase passes. Two lighter such passes might be better than one really thick one? Or perhaps the second one can be made lighter, as the first will be absorbed more into the shirt than subsequent ones that might still be too wet when the top color is sprayed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm no DTG guru, so will limit my comments to suggesting that generally when any type of fabric ink cracks, it is due to undercuring (or overcuring :p ).

I screen print opaque water based inks and cure with a heat press, so similar ink and curing process. What equipment, time, and temp are you using to cure?

Okay, one thought on the streaking of the colors over the white base. Perhaps the there needs to be a bit of "air drying" time before the colors are laid on top of the white? In screen printing, one flashes the underbase white to dry the it enough so the subsequent colors sit on top of it rather than blending in to it. If I remember right, some DTG setups can do two underbase passes. Two lighter such passes might be better than one really thick one? Or perhaps the second one can be made lighter, as the first will be absorbed more into the shirt than subsequent ones that might still be too wet when the top color is sprayed.
R Jet 5
Xpres / adkins betamax swing press
170 degrees C
Kodak ink and pretreat


I have been waiting inbetween the white and colours....but perhaps not long enough if its putting way too ,much white down to start with.

A shot of an underbase here, colours went down and oranges were weak with poor coverage

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Your white looks real solid and opaque. Much more than I ever see with POD produced DTG prints, as they run tight on the underbase to save $.

Seems like it must be related to the white underbase one way or another, as your CMYK prints look fine. Backing off on the white ink desposit sounds like a reasonable thing to try. Overly thick ink is harder to cure, and probably more crack prone in general.

Your temp sounds right. How long do you cure them? I press my opaque white screen prints at that temp for one minute, but that's with an easily cured ink printed with a fine mesh screen, so not an overly heavy print.

But as I mentioned up top, I'm not the DTG guru around here. Hopefully one of the experienced DTG users will notice your post and have something more enlightened to suggest.
 

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My question is, how durable are water based inks meant to be with dtg machines? I can scrape at the ink with my nail and it doesn't seem to take a lot to scratch it off.
DTG is fairly durable if you do it right.
First you have to master the pretreat and ensure you have enough ink absorbtion into the fabric.
Ink floating on top of the pretreatment will not last.
The pretreat is a coagulant, not an adhesive.

Some seem better than others.
This is true. Some shirts print better than others.

A common suggestion was I was putting too much pretreat down, But I have a resolute r treat machine and have tried everything from 70% speed to 100% and it's no different. I literally cant put any less on a shirt than the speed on 100%.
You just have to add more water in the pretreatment mix.

The nozzle puts down a heavy spraying of pretreat in the middle, more than the outer edges, so there is around 2 inches where the amount of pretreat that is being applied is less.
The thinner pretreatment mix will spray better as well. You will get a wider spray pattern.

Resolute said this is fine as it will still be putting enough down. They said it will put more down in the centre than the outer edges.
That's nonsense. If the reduced amount on the outer edges is enough, then the middle has too much.

DTG is getting old and very fast with me.
Yeap... I gave up white ink DTG within a couple of months. Too complicated, and too expensive.
CMYK DTG however is very easy.

Could this happen with too much white underbase? Could it be that simple?
The opposite is true. More ink is better, but it has to be in the fabric, not just floating on top.

Curing calculation test:
Print six white stripes on a shirt, and press it using the recommended temperature and time.
Pull the shirt to remove one of the stripes from the platen and press the remaining five for another 10 seconds. Then the remaining four for another 10 seconds, and so on.
Then wash test the shirt to find the optimal time.
 

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Your white looks real solid and opaque. Much more than I ever see with POD produced DTG prints
Too much pretreatment produces solid white prints really easy, but they don't last.
It is by the way the first step for balancing the pretreatment and white ink amounts.
The second step is reducing the pretreatment until the white print becomes dull, and then increase the amount of white to compensate.
This way you know you have enough ink absorbed in the fabric and the prints will last.

The bad news is that the process has to be repeated for every t-shirt model and color.
I know it sounds crazy, but different colors of the same shirt print differently.
 

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Too much pretreatment produces solid white prints really easy, but they don't last.
It is by the way the first step for balancing the pretreatment and white ink amounts.
The second step is reducing the pretreatment until the white print becomes dull, and then increase the amount of white to compensate.
This way you know you have enough ink absorbed in the fabric and the prints will last.

The bad news is that the process has to be repeated for every t-shirt model and color.
I know it sounds crazy, but different colors of the same shirt print differently.
Right. Which is why POD shirts so often look like slightly warmed poop! Well, that and saving $ on ink.

With water based screen printing, the ink follows the "gullies" in the shirt fabric rather than filling them in like Plastisol. I guess it is the pretreatment that allowed that same sort of filled-in appearance with his prints above?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Your white looks real solid and opaque. Much more than I ever see with POD produced DTG prints, as they run tight on the underbase to save $.

Seems like it must be related to the white underbase one way or another, as your CMYK prints look fine. Backing off on the white ink desposit sounds like a reasonable thing to try. Overly thick ink is harder to cure, and probably more crack prone in general.

Your temp sounds right. How long do you cure them? I press my opaque white screen prints at that temp for one minute, but that's with an easily cured ink printed with a fine mesh screen, so not an overly heavy print.

But as I mentioned up top, I'm not the DTG guru around here. Hopefully one of the experienced DTG users will notice your post and have something more enlightened to suggest.

I cure dark shirts for x2 45 second presses, which is what kodak advise.

I wait 5 minutes after print, hover the press for 1 minute, then 1st press with parchment paper with low pressure for 45 seconds, then lift paper and a 2nd press with a little more pressure.

I am VERY annoyed to keep seeing that after 1 wash the inks can be scraped off with a thumbnail.

Anybody want to buy a dtg printer?
 

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With water based screen printing, the ink follows the "gullies" in the shirt fabric rather than filling them in like Plastisol. I guess it is the pretreatment that allowed that same sort of filled-in appearance with his prints above?
Screen-printing ink is already thickened and you use pressure to push it into the fabric.
DTG is very thin but thickens when it touches the pretreatment.
If the ink thickens too fast it stays on the surface and that's not a good thing.
With less pretreatment the ink will thicken slower and will sink into the fabric a little bit, producing a more durable print.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Too much pretreatment produces solid white prints really easy, but they don't last.
It is by the way the first step for balancing the pretreatment and white ink amounts.
The second step is reducing the pretreatment until the white print becomes dull, and then increase the amount of white to compensate.
This way you know you have enough ink absorbed in the fabric and the prints will last.

The bad news is that the process has to be repeated for every t-shirt model and color.
I know it sounds crazy, but different colors of the same shirt print differently.

The thing is, I have a pretreat machine and cant put any less on that I am now. It's set to 100% speed so thats it...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You can still add water to it.
Alternatively buy pretreat concentrate and add as much water as you need.
Use distilled/de-ionized water.
1 wash here from yesterday...I stretch the shirt and look at all the cracks.....Is that normal?


Scraping with fingernail here....Ink seems soft

 

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Too much pretreat...
Reducing it will increase the white ink consumption but will produce durable prints.
I know ink is expensive, but that's how it is.

You are not the only one by the way... Many people have the same problem by trying to use as little ink as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Too much pretreat...
Reducing it will increase the white ink consumption but will produce durable prints.
I know ink is expensive, but that's how it is.

You are not the only one by the way... Many people have the same problem by trying to use as little ink as possible.
I'm not trying to use as little ink as possible. I'd just like it to stay on the shirt, which it is, but to me it's too soft and not durable enough. Maybe I am expecting too much of it? It's going through ink like nobodies business.

If this pretreat machine is shite, I am pissing into the wind every time I use it.

Just bought a wagner so will give that a go.
 

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I cure dark shirts for x2 45 second presses, which is what kodak advise.

I wait 5 minutes after print, hover the press for 1 minute, then 1st press with parchment paper with low pressure for 45 seconds, then lift paper and a 2nd press with a little more pressure.

I am VERY annoyed to keep seeing that after 1 wash the inks can be scraped off with a thumbnail.

Anybody want to buy a dtg printer?
That's the exact time and process I used to use, 2x45. 2x60 wouldn't be too much, and might help--worth a try.

When I originally started on here 10 years ago, I was looking for information on building a DIY DTG from an Epson printer, even had bought the printer. But the more I looked into it, the more I decided I wanted something a bit more "hands-on" and less dependent on fiddly inscrutable stuff like precise control over the spray of that vinegar-smelling pretreatment and how to tweak it for each garment variation. So I went with screen printing instead, which I had messed about with decades before. So, yeah, I hear you about being disappointed and frustrated with your DTG experience.

That said, you came here looking for helpful suggestions from experienced DTG users. You found that in TABOB :). Time and again, he has proven to know what he is talking about. Give it a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well the wagner is a complete piece of ****. Its putting way too much down towards the outside of the spray pattern. At the end of my rope here.
The shirt sprayed with the wagner...same thing..21 wash...a little scrape with nail ...and ink will come off. F*****g sick of this now.





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I haven't even tried printing colours on dark shirts again...Gave up with that.......shite print after shite print.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Here's the prerteat machine

That's at 100% so I cant put any less on. Crap coverage anyway. Nozzle is brand new.
 
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