Five Important Tools for Direct-to-Garment Printing

Paul Green works for OmniPrint International, distributor of the FreeJet line of direct-to-garment printers. He is also an industry seminar and webinar speaker and contributing writer. He has been in the printing industry for the last 10 years. After hours, Green is also an established fine artist and painter, and his work can be seen in group art shows around California.

Besides the major components needed for direct-to-garment printing like a heat press, RIP software, and a compatible computer, there are also a few very basic tools you should have on-hand to make the job easier. Keep these five items in your shop:

•             A small tool set. A basic toolbox is useful to have, should you need to replace any consumable parts in your printer.

•             A bottle of 70 percent rubbing alcohol. There are a few parts on the printer called encoders that require 70 percent alcohol to remove any ink and dust from the surface.

•             Gloves and paper towels. From time to time, you may spill some ink. Cleaning it up right away will be much easier than when it is dried, so ensuring you have cleaning supplies on-hand is important.

•             A small garment steamer. Pretreating garments may make the image area feel different from the rest of the shirt. Using a small garment steamer will help get rid of any hand-feel left over from pretreating. This is not a necessity, but it is a nice final touch if needed.

•             A webcam or a camera phone with video capability. Depending on the level of support you get with your machine, a USB camera that plugs into your computer can really help out with tech support questions. If you can show a tech in real time what is going on with your printer via Skype, you can more quickly and easily pinpoint your problem.

Even though these printers are pretty much plug and go, you still need a few additional pieces of equipment and accessories. Having all of the items listed here will make your life as a decorator easier, and understanding the importance of each one will help reduce the already minimal learning curve of direct-to-garment printing.