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How To Print A Custom T-Shirt

While models may vary, there are basic steps that must be taken to ensure a great end product when printing with a direct to garment printer, DTG Printer, custom t-shirt printers of almost any kind.

ColDesi has been helping people start custom t-shirt businesses since 1998.. and we’re recognized experts in the field of apparel decorating in general AND t shirt printing in particular.

The process of direct to garment printing is simple.

Graphics Software like CorelDraw, Photoshop, Gimp, and Illustrator are designed to output to many different devices for a wide variety of applications.

This video will walk you step by step through the preparation, printing and finishing process for printing custom t-shirts. Then the rest of the article will more fully describe the hardware, process and supplies involved in accomplishing a great end result – a beautiful, profitable custom tee shirt or garment!

The Best DTG Printer Process

Every direct to garment printer has fundamentally the same process, but even within the same brand you’ll be varying many of the steps according what type of material you’re printing on, the quality you’re producing and the preferences of the artist.

So while what follows represents those basic steps, the BEST DTG Printer process will depend on you, your business and your blanks.

If you are only printing on light colored t shirts or if you have a larger industrial shop you may want to consider a dedicated M2 or M6 commercial DTG printer set up for maximum speed in a dual CMYK mode.

The Steps For Printing with DTG

Creating a finished product using a t shirt printing machine and printing on a white t-shirt or other white textile requires little preparation of the garment in advance. but with DTG Printers like the DTG Viper2, M2 or M4 you have the highly profitable capability of printing directly onto dark garments as well and that requires “pretreating”.

Think of Pretreatment like adding a primer before you paint. It helps the ink adhere better to the t-shirt or other garment, as well as to things like canvas, denim jeans, and more. We usually only use pretreatment on dark garments or non-textiles so the white ink bonds properly and lasts wash after wash.

Think of Pretreatment like adding a primer before you paint. It helps the ink adhere better to the t-shirt or other garment, as well as to things like canvas, denim jeans, and more. You CAN print without pretreatment, but it negatively impacts the vividness of the print and the wash-ability, so it’s almost never done.

There are 2 ways to apply Pretreatment

Hand Spraying  – for manual pretreating you can use the sprayer that’s always included with your direct to garment printer form ColDesi.

That process is basically to spray the pretreatment onto the garment as evenly as possible using a smooth back and forth motion of the sprayer. This takes some practice. Too much pretreat or too little impacts how the garment looks and washes. Manual spraying must be done in a well ventilated area away from your printer.

PreTreat Machine – an automatic pretreatment machine  is an enclosed device that you load your shirt into, then press a button to have the pretreat sprayed onto it.

The PTM Pretreat Machine i is the device that we use and recommend. You can dial the amount of pretreat that is sprayed, the process only takes a moment and is consistent every time. The latter is hard to achieve with a hand sprayer.

One of the biggest advantages to the PTM is that it is completely enclosed so you can pretreat shirts inside a house, retail location or an office. Even right next to your DTG Printer. The PTM is included with the DTG M2 Pro Bundle.

All garment embellishments have to start somewhere. With direct to garment printing the work generally begins at the computer. All DTG’s need good, clean artwork to produce the best prints on your garments. Good artwork starts with professional quality graphics software like CorelDRAW, Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.

Of course, the quality of the image you start with makes a big impact on the end result. By following a few basic guidelines in regards to resolution and background you will find it easy to design or tailor artwork to produce high quality images.