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All DTG printers must use a Pre-treatment solution when printing white ink.

Epson notes, Pre-treatment solution is necessary for printing White ink. If pre-treatment solution is not applied to the T-shirt, White ink does not image correctly or adhere to the T-shirt. Also, colors that are printed on the White ink do not develop properly.

Epson pre-treatment in conjunction with Epson UltraChrome DG Ink will allow for superior vibrancy and washability. It is not recommended to use 3rd party pre-treatment with the F2000.  You can purchase genuine Epson pre-treatment in 20 or 2 liter bottles from ShopMelco. Epson pre-treat if diluted, and applied properly, will not stain and is ideal for use on light, dark, or synthetic garments.

Pre-treatment is a necessary step and application can be easily mastered with a little training and experience.

If you choose an auto pre-treat machine or manual application, you must apply correctly or your printed result will be inconsistent or noticeably poor. Proper pre-treatment application is critical for a superior print.

If you have not seen the video from Epson on Pre-treating a Garment, I suggest you watch it. Larry does an incredible job explaining how to pre-treat and what to look for and avoid. I am a huge advocate of pre-treating with this method, and can easily pre-treat 20-30 shirts in a half an hour. Melco has put together the exact kit you see in the Epson video. You can purchase on ShopMelco for $150. Or, email me and I will send you a list of where you can purchase the supplies on the open market. A pre-treat machine might not make sense for your business model. My next post will compare manual pre-treating vs. auto pre-treaters.

How to prepare Epson Pre-treatment.

Shake Vigorously – All Epson pre-treat is concentrate and must be agitated.

Printing on Dark Garments With White Ink.

Darkest Color Shirts: Dilute no more than 1:1 or 50% distilled water, 50% pre-treatment. I recommend 60% water, 40% pre-treat for almost all dark garments.

Medium Color Shirts: Mix 70-30. Too much concentrate will leave staining and will not deliver a better result. It is unlikely, but If you are experiencing staining, reduce concentration. Reduce as far as needed to avoid staining. Even at low concentrate levels, you can still print white ink.

Ensure proper coverage. Inconsistent pre-treatment coverage will result in spotty or erratic color variations. It’s not about how much concentrate or how much pre-treat you apply, it’s about consistency and proper garment saturation. WATCH THE VIDEO!

Printing on Light Garments With or Without White Ink.

It is not necessary to pre-treat a light garment if you intend to use only color ink, however, a light application could noticeably enhance your image. If you choose to pre-treat a light garment, dilute Epson concentrate 80-20 or 90-10 or even lower to 98% water 2% pretreat. Staining will most likely occur at higher levels of concentrate.

If you are printing white ink on the lightest of colors, assume standard concentrate mixtures will stain your garment. I have reduced concentrate to 2-3% and still received a nice white print. If you are experiencing staining the solution is to reduce concentrate, do not hesitate to drop to less than 10%

The shirt below is super thin, lt. pink pima cotton, juniors cut. At 10% concentrate I experienced staining. I continued to reduce concentrate to around 2-3% and was still receiving a nice white print while eliminating staining. Don’t be afraid to reduce concentrate!

John LeDrew Epson F2000

3% Epson Pretreat. Bright white print.

Below is an image explaining dilution from the all mighty Epson F2000 User’s Guide. Reference it, you’ll be glad you did.

Epson F2000 User's Guide

Epson F2000 User’s Guide

Epson Pre-Treatment is non toxic, though I recommend quickly referencing the Pre-treatment Material Safety Data Sheet. https://files.support.epson.com/pdf/msds/t736100.pdf

If you are having trouble receiving a bright white print, see my post on The Best Type of Shirts When Using White Ink.

Ensure you properly cover and saturate the print area. 

People often think a light application will be sufficient. My response would be you’re taking a gamble. Be sure you thoroughly saturate the single layer you are pretreating. Ensure you have full coverage across the whole area you want to print. Proper coverage and saturation will ensure a clean complete print.

This image is an example of proper saturation on the left, and improper saturation on the right.

John LeDrew Epson F2000

Epson F2000 Pretreat John LeDrew

Recap:

Only use Epson pre-treat with the F2000. Shake well and mix with distilled water.

60-40 for dark garments,

70-30 for medium colors.

80-20, 90-10, or even as low as 2-3% for light or white.

If you experience staining, REDUCE CONCENTRATE! I have gone as low as 3% and still printed nice white on light garments.

Ensure proper pre-treat saturation and coverage.

Email me with questions and happy printing,

John LeDrew • DTG Director • Melco International

2 thoughts on “Understanding Epson DTG Pre-Treatment

    • 70-30 is a good start. If you still see staining, continue to reduce. I have gone as low as 10% to avoid staining and still received nice white. I also highly suggest a good quality ring-spun blank, spectra, Hanes nano, etc. Try and avoid Gildan as they use animal byproducts in their dye which reacts to pretreat and causes staining.

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