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Tips for DTG Printing on 100% Cotton Garments

Just like in screen printing, the type of garment will affect how you print via Direct-To-Garment (DTG). This week, expert Luke Ryerkerk dives into the specifics about printing 100% cotton on a DTG printer. 

For any type of garment with DTG, the garment quality will affect the overall quality of the print the most. For 100% cotton, you’ll want to stick to Ringspun or Carted Cotton Ringspun for the best results. 

BASIC RECOMMENDATIONS 

Pretreat is also extremely important. This goes for all garment types, but here are some overall recommendations for 100% cotton:

  • 25 - 30 grams is recommended for most ringspun apparel.
  • The higher quality the knit, the less pretreatment you typically need.
  • Garments with open-ended cotton, like Gildan UltraCotton, will need more pretreat (20-40% more on average). 
  • Pre-pressing for 5-10 seconds will help tremendously!
    • This is a huge tip, especially in high-humidity areas.
    • It removes the excess moisture from the garment and preps a dry surface for the pretreat to adhere to it. 
  • Rolling the garment while pretreat is still wet will help with high-fiber material.
    • Dealing with apparel that has a lot of fibers? This is a big trick that will help battle them.
    • Use a 4-6” foam roller (ones typically used for painting cabinets)
    • Roll one direction with little pressure while pretreat is still wet.
    • You’ll see the areas you’ve rolled have the fibers pressed down in one direction.
  • Use a light/white garment pretreat for white shirts.
    • Cotton loves to soak the ink up.
    • When NOT printing white ink (on white and some light garments), using a special pretreat will help.
    • Use as little as half the amount you use for dark garments.
    • Firebird’s FBX-VIVID is a great choice for pretreat!

CHECK OUT THIS GUIDE TO DTG PRINTING

four polyprint printers

Ink and Bros has an incredible DTG setup.

RIP SETTINGS

DTGs and their RIPs are best setup for 100% cotton. For good ringspun garments, you typically can use the default RIP settings. Below are some tips for RIP settings.

  • Increase the white underbase strength slightly to get just a bit more white down for better results.
  • Thicker garments will most likely need a double-pass of white ink.
    • Make sure there is a little longer delay between the white and CMYK pass when using double pass.
    • You’ll see the white ink puddle a bit when printing double pass and you want to avoid printing CMYK over the puddled areas. 
    • Pausing for a couple seconds before the CMYK pass will help against this. 

CURING

Curing is pretty straightforward for 100% Cotton.

  • Typical Curing Setup: *Refer to the specific recommendations for your DTG.
    • 330-340℉
    • Hover for 30 seconds (Heating element is over the garment, but not pressed)
    • Use Low Pressure for Curing
    • Press for 90-120 Seconds (Depends on the ink you’re using)
  • See white fibers coming through the print BEFORE pressing?
    • You need more pretreat OR your shirt was sitting too long after pretreat before printing.
    • Press your shirt for a couple seconds if it sits more than 15 minutes after pretreat curing.
  • See white fibers coming through the print AFTER pressing?
    • Your pressure is TOO HIGH on your heat press OR you have not hovered long enough.
  • Dryer Settings
    • This gets very specific depending on the ink and garment you're printing. 
    • Typically the ink needs to be brought up to 300 degrees for 2.5 to 3.5 mins. 
    • Use of a gas or electric forced air dryer is needed. 
    • Always make dryer changes in 10% increments when testing.

LEARN ABOUT THE BEST PRACTICES FOR PRICING DTG GARMENTS

Stay tuned for next week: Luke will share advice about DTG printing on 50/50 garments. 

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