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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?

Answer

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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