The garment-inkjet floodgates are wide open, leaving many screen printers who want to boost revenues with complementary digital technology drowning in options. This article will help you wade through the crowded pool of printers.
Garment screen printers who are looking to digital technology to handle the short runs, one-offs, walk-in business, and other opportunities that might not be profitable on their presses now have more choices than ever. The market for direct-to-garment inkjet printers is now occupied by nearly five times more manufacturers than those mentioned in Screen Printing magazine’s first look at the technology (“Garment Printing Joins the Jet Set,” Sept. 2005, p. 66).
The past four years have ushered in a greater number of printers that offer the ability to print white ink as an underbase or highlight on dark garments, faster print speeds, more colors, solutions for tighter registration, controls for ink saturation and vibrancy, and more. Read on to find out more about the direct-to-garment inkjet printers available today and the models some manufacturers plan for launch in the near future. Contact information for each manufacturer is provided in the source list on page 24.
The FP-125 from AnaJet offers printers the ability to manage ink flow via a 15-level ink-volume control and five levels of fabric-dependent volume adjustment. The inkjet printer can image onto garments made of 100% cotton, poly-cotton blends, and certain types of 100% polyester. It’s designed to deliver full ink saturation in a single print pass. The FP-125 uses water-based, pigmented inks from AnaJet and features a closed-loop ink-delivery system with sealed ink cartridges, a feature engineered to prevent air pockets and foam formation. Users can switch between a CMYK and CMYK + White configurations. A 12.5 x 16-in. (318 x 406-mm) shuttling print table takes care of garment handling, and the printer supports a maximum garment thickness of 0.6 in. (15 mm) and imaging resolution of 720 dpi. AnaPrint software is for decorating white, pastel, and light colored garments. An optional software RIP is available for printing onto black apparel. The device’s three-step workflow includes image selection, printing, and setting the image in a heat press or conventional garment dryer. The FP-125 runs on Windows XP or Vista (32-bit version) or on a Mac running Boot Camp or emulation software.
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