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Has anyone investigated the "Polar Bear" conversion (4 white print heads) to the Brother 541? I'm looking to buy a used 541 and then buy the "Polar Bear" white heads (same white heads that are used on the 781). Told I would need to buy Lawson or other pre treatment machine plus an Insta 220 volt press (with air compressor) to be able to do the job correctly (looking to buy these two items used as well). Pre treatment solution has so much water in it that with a standard heat press set at 350 degrees, the water brings the temp down to 300-315 and takes at least a minute to get back up to temp for the pretreat to set properly. This is for each shirt! In addition, 1000 lbs of pressure is needed to press the shirt fibres flat (hense the Insta 220 volt press). All this was pitched to me by my Brother dealer. I will be his first white ink 541 converstion. Untimately, after white has been printed, the platten can be removed and placed on a traditional 4 color brother 541 (which I already own) and color printed on top of the white. Registration is a problem right now and so the mass rollout of "Polar Bear" is still on hold. I'm willing to get started just being able to print white on dark shirts which is a very big part of my business. I still use vinyl and it's really becoming a pain. If anyone has more knowledge than I do, please advise.
 

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Hello Art,

I am the one that came up with the concept of the Polar Bear. The most important thing to understand is that the print heads, ink and pretreat fluid are all from Brother. The only aftermarket products on the printer are a disconnect ink line system (allows you to drain the ink lines to perform the daily and weekly maintenance), disconnect platens and a new RIP software that will split the print file to two different printers. Everything else is all Brother products.

In regards to the print heads, you are not going to want to use print heads that CMYK ink in them. In order to flush the CMYK ink out of the print head, you will need to use the cleaning fluid. However, the white ink has a different reaction with the cleaning fluid and will lead to the filter clogging up. Thus, the reason why your distributor is having you buy new print heads that were designed for the GT-782 printer.

In regards to the pretreatment process, you will apply more pretreat fluid to the garment than the other types of white ink pretreatment used by other ink / printers. In order to properly cure the garment, you have to remove the water in order to allow the chemical solids to cure to the garment. Thus, you need a good heat press. You should see steam coming off the heat press during the curing process. The Insta heat press was developed specifically to Brother's specs. I know of one company that used a different heat press and the heating element was not completely flat. Thus, the steam went into the center of the heat press platen and the pretreat fluid was not cured properly. I have personally cured pretreated shirts using the Insta 828 press at trade shows and have not had to wait 1 minute between pressing. Insta has a high-end heating element to prevent such a dramatic drop in temperature. Your distributor might be talking about other heat presses or just making a conservative statement. One thing is for sure, you have to make sure you cure the pretreat fluid properly or you will have poor wash results.

Although technically you can apply the pretreat fluid with a hand-held roller, it is a time consuming process and can lead to an uneven amount of fluid applied in some areas. It is my understanding that most of the 782 owners use one of the automatic pretreaters to apply the pretreat fluid.

We were using a software program that split a file from the GT-782 driver. The software program would allow us to make an adjustment on the X- and Y-axis of both the color and white layers. However, if you look at the platen stem for the Brother printer... you will notice that there is a u-shape metal piece directly behind the platen height lever. If this clip is slightly turned, your platen will be slightly rotated. So we are working on a completely new RIP software program that will allow you to rotate the color layer should you want it. This is why I have not allowed a Polar Bear printer sold to date. There are a couple of these printers out there, but they are for testing purposes only and none have been sold to garment decorators.

I believe I have communicated with your distributor this past week. I was told that you were wanting to primarily print white ink on garments for right now. If this is the case, then we do have enough of the RIP software created to allow you to do this. Once we have the rotation part down, then you will be able to update the software at no charge and then can use it as a Polar Bear setup.

If you have additional questions about running an all-white GT-541 printer or the Polar Bear setup, feel free to ask them.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Mark for your in depth explaination. You may have misunderstood my posting. I wasn't questioning the need for a high end press such as the Insta, I was just stating what I was told. In addition, is the Lawson the best pretreatment machine available or is there another on the market which performs even better? The name escapes me at the moment. You are correct, I have been working with Axiom (Brian Belk), and if printing only white on dark shirts is perfected I would like to get started right away and then upgrade when the software is corrected. Quite honestly, I would like to get a little better price from Axiom. He is selling me a 541 with 20,000 prints, with no heads, for 10,500, and the white heads for 1,000 each. I feel like I am sort of a guinea pig because this conversion is really not on the market. Maybe you could negotiate a better price and I can be another test market. My business is in State College PA, and I have a prime retail storefront where we do on demand printing of single shirts to groups. I have been very pleased with my first 541 and think the addition of white will really catapult my business.
Keep in touch.
Art Fine
 

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Art,

Not a problem. I figured I would give you some information that you probably were not aware of to help explain why your distributor was telling you certain things. Unfortunately, I don't have any pull when it comes to pricing. I am just another business owner as well.

State College? Drove through there once, but have to go to a football game there once before I die. It was pretty impressive when they did the white out a couple of years ago.

Best wishes,

Mark
 

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amazing accomplishment,

i feel it's much easier to buy a 782 than two 541's and deal with the nightmare of MORE software, any way you swing it. just 5 seconds of added labor makes it a headache. there's already way too much time & labor involved with dark shirt digital printing.

if i was dependent on a system like that, i wouldn't make it into work. but everyone's different!
 
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