Printing A T-shirt

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to give you guys a overview in how I currently print a t-shirt at my work place. There are many different ways of printing a design on a t-shirt; they all each have their own pro’s and con’s which hopefully one day I’ll get round to explaining in more detail to you guys. Anyway, the main way in which we print our t-shirts is called ‘Direct to Garment’ also known as DTG, however first things first, setting up an appropiate document file. Everyone has their own way of drawing/creating an image, mine is to first sketch out a design on paper, as seen in the image below.

DSC01895

After I finish sketching out the image, I get a black fineliner and ink over it to create the final line. Once I’m happy with the image, I will import it into the computer by using a scanner at 300dpi. (300dpi creates a high quality image and is considered a nice amount of detail to work with in photoshop.) I will then open the image up in photoshop and make any final edits, such as cleaning lines up, making it darker, removing the background etc…I won’t go into much detail as everyone has their own way of editing an image, but if you want to know more, just let me know in the comments and I can post a more ‘in depth’ post.

After final edits I save the file as a .psd with a transparent background. The final image looks like this (it does have a transparent background, however in this scenario it has taken on the white, if that makes sense?) :

Wabbit-print-file-ready

Yippee! After all that work on the image you definitely can’t wait to see it go on a t-shirt now can you? Well, the next step is uploading it onto the printer software, arranging printer settings and placing a t-shirt on the printing plate you’re ready to go!

The blank t-shirt goes into the printer and a layer of ‘pre-treatment’ is sprayed on. This ‘pre-treatment’ helps the ink stick to the fabric and holds the ink in shape, preventing it from bleeding into the fabric’s fibers. The printer then acts like a inkjet printer, in which the printing head puts down ink on the t-shirt with each pass over the fabric. The t-shirt is then carefully put into a large dryer at 150 degrees, and depending on how much ink is put down on the t-shirt  will determine the length of time it’ll stay in for.

DSC01903

Ta-da! T-shirt is now out of the dryer and ready to wear! So, some pro’s and cons: Pro’s are that this printer is pretty fast and can do many unique designs in any order (for a store that has over 100 plus printable designs, this is perfect). It also doesn’t create that much waste in comparison to say, silkscreen printing and is arguably more managable. Con’s, doesn’t do very well in printing really detailed imagery on a dark coloured t-shirt such as photographs and well, doesn’t do well on most dark coloured t-shirts unless the designs are really simple or just involve one colour. Also, the white ink contains a sediment which makes the design quite tacky/sticky. This is fine in small doses, but designs which have a block of white can become quite sticky. If you want a soft, non tacky print, discharge inks or silkscreen prnting are probably more up your street, however they also have their own problems.

Anyway, I hope you found that informative, if you have any questions feel free to comment below!

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2 thoughts on “Printing A T-shirt

  1. Kenya says:

    Awesome! I really want to find a place where I can buy the machinery. I would love to make my own t shirts in Toronto and make money off of them.

    • Hey! Thanks for reading, the particular machine we use at the moment is called ‘Kornit Breeze’. Like I said though, it has it’s limitations and to find the best method for you depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Good luck with your endevour. 🙂

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