When it comes to printing dark garments with direct to garment printers a pretreatment is always required. This has been and still is a requirement for all DTG printing. For a long time the application was done by hand using a Wagner power sprayer and is still very popular today. However, over the last 5 years the industry has seen the arrival of the pretreatment machine. This has brought up the debates of what way is better and if a machine is a good investment.

No matter what you should always learn and master the process of hand pretreatment, should your machine go down or you need to increase production for a big order. The manual process will have a learning curve of trial and error. Once you have this process down you can be just as productive as a machine. You will also master using just the right amount and only in the exact area needed. The downside is that manual application will require a designated area and cannot be done close to the printer. When using a hand held sprayer you will have over spray that can float around and create a sticky surface if not cleaned off. Many people do this process outside but depending on your climate an indoor set up may be the only option.

Pretreatment machines have gotten smaller and better over the last few years. In most cases the controls are very simple with a setting for amount being sprayed and another for the length of spray needed. You will definitely want to find a machine that is fully enclosed. With a fully enclosed unit you can be pretreating garments close to your printer and heat press. This kind of set up will really help with production flow. Once you have the machine dialed in you will be able to depend on a consistent coating every time. The down side to most machines is that they need to be cleaned and maintained after every use. Because the pretreat formula dries sticky a flush is required to help keep the system clean and free from clogs.

So when it comes to asking what method is better it is not that easy because they both do the job. In many cases and especially with FreeJet printers, the Wagner sprayer comes with the printer. The cost of a Wagner sprayer is around $140.00. The cost of a pretreat machine is around $4,000.00 or more. If you do not have someone to be the designated pretreater you may suffer from inconstancy and have poor prints from time to time. Pretreatment is all about consistency and it needs to be done by one person that has it down. If you don’t have someone that can be that person you should get a machine. With a machine it will be very consistent so you will not need to have someone that is good with the manual method. However, you should learn the process just in case you ever have issues with the machine. You can be just as fast with pretreating by hand but keep in mind you will need to have an area where you can do it. With a machine you also need to justify that its cost is worth it to you. So it really boils down for your individual needs.

It is always a good idea to find out what products your printer manufacturer recommends. Here at OmniPrint we have used nothing but DuPont inks and Pretreatment. We test other brands constantly and make sure we are offering the best products to our customers. Knowing that for over 8 years we have never had an issue with tried and true ink and pretreatment products. This is why we can stand behind the success of our customers and ourselves.