Images_June_2020_Digital_Edition 20 images JUNE 2020 Beanies may be a popular product for embroidery, but it’s also possible to decorate them using a direct-to-garment printer. Colin Marsh, managing director at Resolute DTG, explains how it’s done W hen DTG printing on beanies there are three key areas of the process that will influence the quality (and profitability) of your prints: the application of pretreatment in the correct area; loading and holding the beanie on the printer; and curing the print when it’s finished. Pretreating the area to print The key to pretreating only the small print area on a beanie – and avoiding wasting lots of pretreatment solution – is to use a pretreatment machine that’s based on a three-axis scanning bar. In layman’s terms, this is a pretreatment machine that works like a flatbed printer, but uses a nozzle instead of a print head. These modern, programmable, area- specific pretreatment machines allow for zero waste and extreme accuracy because they spray only the area that is to be printed, and nothing else. Working on XY coordinates and only spraying in the designated area makes light work of beanies, socks, pockets, sleeves, and many other similar items. Traditional, multi-nozzle pretreatment machines are very good, but limited in functionality in comparison to a three- axis system: they rely on a vapour, often from multiple nozzles, migrating to the garment in a closed drawer environment which inevitably generates waste and does not allow for small areas to be sprayed accurately. Most three-axis pretreatment machines are programmable via a touchscreen; this allows for pre-sets to be saved, reducing set-up time. Barcode scanners can also be used, along with RIP software, to program the area to be sprayed automatically. Loading the beanie and printing it Loading and printing a beanie can be tricky and will require a specific platen capable of holding the hat in place. Any movement during the printing process will produce a blurred print and could possibly damage the printer. Twin platens, such as the custom one designed by Resolute for the Ricoh Ri 1000 DTG printer, can be used for beanies as well as other items such as sleeves, pockets, socks, babygrows, face masks etc. Most DTG printers will have this kind of platen as an option – those that only allow a single item to be loaded and printed at the same time will result in increased production time and labour costs compared to those that allow two products to be loaded and printed simultaneously. The area to be printed on a beanie will often be a sewn-in patch; these can be quite fibrous and are not the easiest surfaces to print onto. However, high viscosity (HV) DTG inks are forgiving as the increased pigment levels allow for a thinner layer of ink to be used while still obtaining an opaque white layer and covering up any protruding fibres. HV inks are normally jetted through industrial print heads – these are more robust and, as a result, cost more to manufacture. You should expect to pay Colin Marsh Industry experts provide insight and guidance in all areas of digital garment and textile printing Digital helpdesk A DTG print on a Beechfield Original Patch Beanie