I recently printed a run of T-shirts on my direct-to-garment printer, and they came out perfect! But now the customer wants me to print a handful of fullzip hoodies. Is it possible to run them through my printer without purchasing a specialty platen?
Printing directly onto sweatshirts and hoodies is a bit more difficult than printing T-shirts, but can most definitely be achieved with good results. If a specialty platen is not an option, either because of your machine or your budget, you can adapt your regular platen to accommodate.
To do so…
- Find something flat and a little thicker than the zipper. You can use cardboard, wood, metal, or even something like a few old mouse pads. Cardboard is going to be the easiest to find and cut.
- Place two strips on top of your print table and leave a gap in the center that is just a little wider than the zipper. You may want to use double sided tape to hold them in position. You now have a grove down the center for the zipper to drop into and create a smooth print surface.
- Load the garment onto the platen in the same fashion as a screen printer does on a press, i.e. by “threading” it over the platen, which will help give you a much flatter surface. Essentially the platen should have only the front of the garment on top of it and the back on the underside, the platen goes through the garment.
- Before you print, make sure the height adjustment has been done on your printer and the print head is at the right distance from the garment. You should now have a nice, flat surface and the ability to print right over the zipper.