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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having a consistent issue where my printed t-shirts sticks to itself upon first wash. Trying to loosen it results in bad "tears" in the print and discoloring (see attached).
I noticed this more with the larger sized prints or very detailed prints which require more ink, like photographs or cartoons.

Printer: Ricoh Ri 2000 (Printer was sent in and serviced by Ricoh in September 2022).
Heat Press: Insta Swing-away Heat Press Model 221 (it's old, from late 1990s).
Pretreatment: Image Armor Platinum for Dark Garments (I've previously used a 1:2 mixed ratio of the OEM Epson Ultrachrome Pretreat solution with distilled water, had same issue).

I use a pretreat machine (one with slide-out try to lay the shirt down and thread the hoop through) to spray 1-2 passes of the pretreat over the shirt.
I move to the heat press and let it hover about 1-2" inches over the pretreated shirt for about 60 secs to help dry. Then I lay a clean teflon sheet down over the shirt and press for 30-40 seconds @ 330* F on medium pressure (about 30 ~ 40 PSI). Sometimes if it comes out still a bit damp I press in intervals of 10 sec till the shirt is dry and I don't see any visible steam/moisture escape after lifting the teflon sheet.

After printing on the shirt, I have tried two different methods:

1. Letting the shirt air dry for a few hours or even overnight; heat press w/teflon sheet @ 330* F for 90 seconds on medium pressure (30~40 PSI).
OR
2. Immediately pressing it w/teflon sheet @ 330* F for 90 seconds on medium pressure (30~40 PSI).

Comparing the two, immediately pressing the shirt after printing I've noticed results in some of the print transferring onto the teflon sheet.

Wash Method: Shirt was washed inside out with cold water and with other dark garments.

The photos are from immediately after I took the shirt out of the washer.


Plant Organism Terrestrial plant Sleeve Art


Botany Leaf Black Plant Textile


This one wasn't as bad, but there was discoloration, with the blue fading to show the white ink layer beneath it - this was on a ink-heavy print:
Azure Sleeve Line Electric blue Pattern

Outerwear Sports uniform Jersey Sports jersey Sleeve


Any advice to fix this issue would be much appreciated. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
So you don't believe it to be an issue with the inks, too much (or not enough) pretreat, or the pretreat not being cured properly?

I'm worried that raising the temperature to that would scorch the pretreated shirt, and make it harder for me to steam the box stain out afterwards. Also since the teflon sheet leaves a glossy finish any box stain is more visible and hard to erase with a steamer (from my experience).

I searched the forums and watched some Ricoma/All-American tutorial videos on Youtube and decided to try this method:

TEST SHIRT: Bella Canvas 3001 standard lightweight tee and a Cotton heritage MC1040 standard lightweight tee.

  • Pretreat the shirt and then do a light press for 10 seconds. Instead of the teflon sheet, I decided to try some double-coated silicone parchment paper.
  • Removed the paper and let the shirt air out for about 30 secs before pressing again for 60 secs. Following the Ricoma video I use 285*F with lighter pressure (about 20 psi).
  • I print on the shirt, and while it's still secured on the platen I use a steamer to clean up the oversprayed, pretreated areas of the shirt that are empty without anything printed on them.
  • Without the teflon sheet I stuck to curing for 90 secs @ 330* F but this time used lighter pressure of 20 psi.
I'll wash it in a few days and see how they turn out. The papers are a great alternative but one downside I noticed is that I go through them pretty fast. There's still some light transfer of the design onto the parchment paper, like what happened when I used the teflon sheet.

After curing a print I flip the parchment paper over to use on the next shirt. Otherwise if I reuse the paper facing the same way as prior, the ink that transferred onto the paper leaves a faint imprint on the next shirt I'm pressing. So this means I get at best 2 uses for every sheet of parchment paper, meaning I would go through the box pretty fast.
 

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So you don't believe it to be an issue with the inks, too much (or not enough) pretreat, or the pretreat not being cured properly?
The pretreat does not cure. It just dries and remains water soluble.
The sticking issue could be due to a bad batch of inks, but the most likely cause is inadequate curing.
 

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Light pressure should be fine for this purpose. I cure my water base screen prints with a heat press and use a pillow underneath so that seams do not impair full contact with the top platen. The actual pressure on the garment is almost nil. If you are getting a shiny box on 100% cotton ... well, you must be pressing the 💩 out of it. Note, many shirt colors will appear a slightly different color after being heat. That is due to moisture being removed from the fibers, and will fix itself with no action on your part.

You can "hover" your press over the garment without touching it to "flash" dry the surface of the ink if it is wet. Then press. I would increase both time and temp. Experiment. 350 for 90 probably fixes your issue (and without creating any others if you don't press too hard). If it doesn't work, your ink is bad or your press is lying about its temperature--you can check that.

From a place that sells DTG printers and heat presses:

Heat Pressing a DTG Printed Shirt
If you’re using a heat press to set your DTG (direct to garment) printed shirts, follow these steps:
  1. Place the DTG printed shirt face up on the heat press
  2. Lower the press to a hover
  3. Leave for 10-30 seconds, depending on the size of the image
  4. Open your t-shirt heat press
  5. Place a release sheet over the shirt
  6. Close the heat press onto the t-shirt. Use medium pressure
  7. Set the temperature to 340-345°
  8. Leave for 90 seconds on dark t-shirts, 45 seconds on lights
 

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So you don't believe it to be an issue with the inks, too much (or not enough) pretreat, or the pretreat not being cured properly?

I'm worried that raising the temperature to that would scorch the pretreated shirt, and make it harder for me to steam the box stain out afterwards. Also since the teflon sheet leaves a glossy finish any box stain is more visible and hard to erase with a steamer (from my experience).

I searched the forums and watched some Ricoma/All-American tutorial videos on Youtube and decided to try this method:

TEST SHIRT: Bella Canvas 3001 standard lightweight tee and a Cotton heritage MC1040 standard lightweight tee.

  • Pretreat the shirt and then do a light press for 10 seconds. Instead of the teflon sheet, I decided to try some double-coated silicone parchment paper.
  • Removed the paper and let the shirt air out for about 30 secs before pressing again for 60 secs. Following the Ricoma video I use 285*F with lighter pressure (about 20 psi).
  • I print on the shirt, and while it's still secured on the platen I use a steamer to clean up the oversprayed, pretreated areas of the shirt that are empty without anything printed on them.
  • Without the teflon sheet I stuck to curing for 90 secs @ 330* F but this time used lighter pressure of 20 psi.
I'll wash it in a few days and see how they turn out. The papers are a great alternative but one downside I noticed is that I go through them pretty fast. There's still some light transfer of the design onto the parchment paper, like what happened when I used the teflon sheet.

After curing a print I flip the parchment paper over to use on the next shirt. Otherwise if I reuse the paper facing the same way as prior, the ink that transferred onto the paper leaves a faint imprint on the next shirt I'm pressing. So this means I get at best 2 uses for every sheet of parchment paper, meaning I would go through the box pretty fast.
The teflon parchment paper is available from Uline by the case, and is much more reasonable that from DTG suppliers.
 
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