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Understanding Pretreatment For Direct To Garment Printing

Monday, January 27, 2020

Direct to garment (DTG) printing is a reliable method for producing long-lasting, high-quality, washable designs for clothing and other fabrics. Pretreatment is an essential part of the DTG process, and it’s the most important factor in creating vibrant, crisp, and long-lasting end products. Today, we’re reviewing how DTG printing works, why you need a pretreatment, and which pretreatment you should choose. 

How DTG Printing Works

The DTG process is similar to that of a regular inkjet printer, but instead of printing onto paper, you print designs directly onto t-shirts, sweatshirts, or other types of fabrics. Compared to traditional screen printing, which requires a separate print and screen for each color in your design, DTG makes it quick and easy to create colorful graphics. Since you don’t need to do multiple prints or create different screens, DTG is also more cost-effective for smaller or one-off t-shirt printing orders.  

Why Does DTG Need Pretreatment? 

In order to get the most vibrant colors on dark or black t-shirts, you’ll almost always need a pretreatment when performing DTG printing. The concept is similar to priming drywall before you paint it - the primer prevents the paint from soaking into the drywall and causing the color to look muted or dull. Similarly, pretreatment creates a surface that ink can adhere to. Without it, the ink will just be absorbed into the fabric. 

Types of Pretreatment 

Pretreatment is available in different formulations for application to light or dark material. Choosing the right one comes down to the color of your fabric and your graphic. Melco offers Epson pretreatment fluid at

Pretreatment for Dark Material

Pretreatment for dark material should be applied whenever white ink is used in the image or when the graphic’s colors are lighter than the fabric. Without pretreatment, ink will absorb into the darker fabric, creating an image that’s difficult to see. 

Pretreatment for Light Material 

Pretreatment for light material is typically used to apply a colorful graphic to white fabric. Although it’s not always necessary to apply pretreatment to white garments, you’ll notice a distinct difference in color, print quality, and detail when this step is skipped. 

Once you’ve decided which pretreatment is best for your product, apply it according to the product instructions and let it dry completely before printing your design. Of course, when you buy a DTG printer from Melco, your trainer will walk you through the pretreatment and printing process to ensure you create eye-catching products every time.