Mother’s Day is here! Gift ideas can be difficult, especially for that hard-to-buy-for mother. Fortunately just about any gift that includes their child is well received. Did you know your direct-to-garment (D2) printer can print on more than just T-shirts? In this article, I’ll explain the best methods for printing on wood. What you need for this project is a piece of smooth wood, inkjet receptive coating, a little art ability, and some patience!
For something quick, you can find a heart shaped piece of unpainted wood at a local craft supply store. For this demonstration, I’m showing a 9" pre-cut flat heart. Some wood pieces may have bevels that add a decorative look. For bevels, hand painting the edges a solid color adds a nice touch.
The first thing you want is a smooth surface. A purchased piece like this should already be smooth, but if it’s not, then some fine grit sandpaper should do the trick. Even with a smooth surface, ink will bleed into the grain, so some type of coating prohibits this from happening. The best surface prep is called an IRC (inkjet receptive coating). It’s as simple as pouring a small amount and brushing or rolling with a foam brush in one direction. Allow it to dry and apply a second coat in a 90-degree direction from the first. If you don’t have an IRC, you can experiment with light or dark garment pretreatment, but an IRC is specifically created for this type of printing.
Next, you would take the piece of wood and scan it so you know the shape. If you don’t have a scanner, take a digital photo of it straight down and measure left to right and top to bottom. Bring your image into an editing software like Photoshop and change the size of it to match your dimensions. With your template in your editing software, simply design. Remember to add a little extra artwork border (or bleed) if you plan on printing edge-to-edge. You will also want to create an outline of the size of your piece of wood.
When setting up your file in the RIP software, import your outline first and leave it in the center of your printable area. Print this outline directly on your platen as a guide for placement of your wood piece. Once your ink guide is dry, place the wood in position on your platen. If your platen moves during printing, you will want to tape blocks or some type of stopper against the wood to avoid moving of your piece. Next, bring your artwork into the same position in the RIP, reduce your ink by about 20 percent (if possible), adjust the height of your platen, and print.
With this method of printing, air drying is all that is needed. After your printed piece is completely dry, use a clear top coat from a craft store to preserve your piece for years to come!
For additional D2 tips, visit www.belquette.com/quicktips.