Screen Printing - June/July 2018 - 21
Image Armor has also introduced RTP Apparel, a growing
collection of pretreated T-shirts made specifically for DTG
printing. The apparel reduces the risks of unevenly sprayed
coatings or the need to purchase an additional pretreatment
device. Users can print anywhere on the pretreated garment
and achieve vivid colors and clear images, particularly on
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
FOR MASS CUSTOMIZATION
To grow the market for both DTG printing and mass customization, printer manufacturers are actively seeking ways
to help current printer owners become more profitable
while encouraging more artists and designers to launch and
develop their own brands of decorated apparel.
A lot of R&D has been geared toward making CMYK +
white DTG inks more vibrant and durable while developing
better workflow software. Efforts to expand the color gamuts
are happening primarily on roll-to-roll textile printing systems
for the potentially enormous markets for cut-and-sew fashion
apparel and home textiles.
According to Peña, the major manufacturers of textile inks
are taking a wait-and-see approach before developing formulations for a wider variety of DTG inks. He predicts more ink
innovations will emerge after more textile manufacturers and
apparel brands start developing products specifically geared
for DTG printing.
Epson won't discuss the possibility of expanding the
range of its DTG inks beyond CMYK + white. But for roll-toroll textile printing, Epson and its For.Tex subsidiary have
developed a combination of pretreatments and inks that
enable Epson's Monna Lisa textile printing machines to use
eight colors of pigment textile inks (CMYK + blue, orange,
red, and gray) to print on a variety of fabrics including cotton, silk, nylon, and polyester.
Kornit has introduced fluorescent yellow and fluorescent
pink inks for its Allegro roll-to-roll textile printing systems.
The pigment inks can be used in three new print modes: Neon
Spot Color; Neon Process for a wider color gamut; and CMYK
Go Neon for realistic images with brighter yellows and pinks.
As processes for managing ink colors on garments become
more automated, it's possible that Kornit Digital might someday offer fluorescent inks as an option for their Avalanche
Hexa industrial direct-to-garment printers. Many fulfillment
centers for short runs of on-demand printed apparel already
use more than one Kornit printer. So, it's conceivable that a
DTG printing center could run both a fast Avalanche HD with
two sets of CMYK + white inks alongside an Avalanche HD6
that runs CMYKRG inks. In the future, perhaps an Avalanche
unit might run CMYK + neon pink and neon yellow.
Epson and Kornit are both actively educating designers and
brands about the creative uses of digitally printed textiles in
the fashion industry. As more creative professionals learn how
Top, Brother's Innobella textile inks, sold in eco-friendly pouches, are
designed to resist detergent chemicals and scraping from zippers.
Bottom, Ricoh introduced its Garment Ink at a lower price point than its
PowerBright Plus Inks, with comparable quality.
easy it is to have their designs converted into apparel, they are
learning more about both screen printing and DTG printing.
Printing and fulfillment companies that use both screen
and DTG printing educate customers about which process
works best with which types of garments and inks. Scalable
Press, a company that produces garments for independent
artists and designers, has an online catalog that makes it clear
to designers which garments work best with which process.
Jakprints lets customers choose between screen printing,
embroidery, dye sublimation, and DTG printing. Their website cautions visitors that DTG printing has not yet achieved
the same level of quality as screen printing, nor does it allow
designers to choose special-effect inks such as metallics,
glow-in-the-dark, puff, high-density, and glitter.
Landesman believes screen printing for garment decoration will be around for a long time. Some companies that
start out with DTG printers will add screen-printing equipment, just as screen printers have added DTG printers. He
believes DTG printing is simply expanding the market for
garment decorating. When you consider all the variables
involved, both printing methods still require a certain level of
craftsmanship. While almost anyone can print custom T-shirts
today, top-quality garment decoration will always be both a
science and an art.
JUNE / JULY 2018