"Pretreating" is the process of applying a chemical solution known as "pretreat" to your garments. The pretreat acts as a layer between your garment and the ink, providing a more even surface to print upon. At the same time, pretreating helps keep the white ink on top of the fibers, creating a clear underbase for the vibrant inks. Understanding the basics of pretreating is key to unleashing the full potential of DTG.
When Do I Use Pretreat?
Most commonly, pretreat is used on dark garments to bring out the true vibrancy of CMYK colors. In this case, pretreat is used any time you are printing with an ink color in your design that is lighter than the garment itself. To maintain the color accuracy, a white underbase will need to be printed under the semi-translucent CMYK inks. Pretreating can also be used to enhance the colors of light-colored garments as well, especially when printing on polyester or synthetic garments.
How Does Pretreat Work?
Imagine you have a garment laid flat on a table. The surface of the garment has gaps and dips created by its weaving. Pretreat acts as a base layer by filling in those gaps. This makes the surface of the garment smoother and better for printing on. When ink is sprayed onto a pretreated surface, it results in a much more even coating. This can help to significantly improve the quality of the designs you choose for your garments.
How Do I Get & Apply Pretreat?
Pretreat is a consumable product that you can order and use in conjunction with a pretreat machine or other application device. To apply pretreat, first mix the pretreat and water together in either a 1:1 ratio or a 2:1 ratio. This pretreat is fed into your chosen application method, and sprayed onto your garment in an even coating. Pretreat machines are typically the best way to consistently apply the desired amount of pretreat in uniform coating. Even beginners at direct to garment printing can take advantage of the powers of pretreat.
Do I Need to Cure Pretreat?
Curing dries the pretreat, allowing the remaining chemicals to bond with the fibers of the garment. This process is replicated with ink once printed, to maximize the wash ability of your garment. The pretreat is cured with heat using a separate curing machine. Often, a heat press or some type of forced air conveyor dryer is used for this process. Once your garment is cured, you are ready to feed it into the printer!