Gen3 is an updated line of pretreats improving on previous FIREBIRD formulas. We now offer a Gen3 version of our GTX Optimized, Epson Optimized, and Universal formulas.* Unlike other brands, we are constantly testing shirts and tweaking chemistry. Our goal is to always guarantee that our customers get the best prints possible.
What Benefits Can I Expect?
Simply put, Gen3 makes pretreating easier. Gen3 pretreatments have a wider application window than past generations, meaning that you can spray too much pretreat without worrying about stains, boxes, or crystallization. This wide window also allows for optimal washes regardless of user finesse. In contrast, over spraying most pretreatments causes flaking, cracking, and peeling when the printed shirt is washed.
This ease of use extends to what you can print too. Traditionally tough prints like blends and sweatshirts can be done more reliably with Gen3. It is worth noting that polyester fabrics cannot be done with these pretreatments. However, we do offer pretreated polyester shirts for some printers.
What If I Don’t Want to Switch Pretreatments?
No problem! Your old pretreats aren’t going anywhere, and will still be available on our Pretreatment page.
How Do I Try Gen3?
Gen3 is available to purchase now. Like all of our pretreatments, it is also backed by a money back guarantee. You can safely try it and get a full refund if you don’t like it for any reason.
*This product is neither produced nor endorsed by Epson Seiko Corporation®. User assumes liability in using this product. Epson® F2000™ and F2100™ are registered trademarks of the Epson Seiko Corporation®. This product is neither produced nor endorsed by Brother International Corporation®. User assumes liability in using this product. Brother® GTX™ is a registered trademark of Brother International Corporation®.
A few years ago, pretreating was a difficult, frustrating process. Stains were common, and the hack suggested by many manufacturers was to hang dry shirts. This avoided (some of) the stains you might see from scorching the pretreat. Of course, this came with new problems that many printers simply learned to live with.
Simply put, there is no reason to hang dry. Our industry has evolved and learned from our past mistakes. In this post, we look to debunk some of the myths that keep printers hanging their shirts and explain the advantages of other drying methods.
Hanging Doesn’t Prevent Stains
If you’ve ever had to call a manufacturer for pretreat support, you might have been told to hang dry to avoid staining. The logic behind this is that if the pretreat isn’t exposed to heat, then you won’t see it scorch. The issue here is obvious to anyone who does DTG. The ink still needs heat to cure.
By skipping the heat on your pretreat, you’ve simply delayed when you see stains. The heat you use to cure ink should always be at least as hot as what it takes to dry pretreat. This means that if your shirt is going to scorch, you won’t see it until after you’ve printed ink, wasting time and money. If a shirt is going to burn, you’re better off finding out at the pretreatment stage. This way, you can fix the problem at the cost of a single shirt instead of a full job plus ink.
Hanging Can Cause Stains
This might sound confusing, but hanging can cause stains that you wouldn’t see otherwise. Even though no heat is applied to the pretreat, you can see one of two types of stains occur. First, sun staining can occur if you try to hang dry near a window. This can occur even on shirt and pretreat combinations that you’ve never had this issue with.
Another surprisingly common issue is caused by wet pretreatment interacting with the dyes in your shirt. Wet pretreatment is more reactive. Because of this, you might see loose dyes that exist in fabric drawn towards the pretreated area. This typically causes a dark box that will not wash out of a shirt. In less common cases, you may also see bleaching. Drying pretreat quickly, like with a press or conveyor, will avoid this reaction.
Hanging Ruins Your Efficiency
If you hang dry, you probably have a rhythm. Spray, hang, repeat. This lets you set up all of the next day’s jobs in a single push, allowing you to focus on printing later. However, if you add drying those shirts to your rhythm, you’ll find yourself getting more done.
If you keep your printer, sprayer, and dryer (whether a heat press or conveyor is irrelevant) together you guarantee an extra piece of equipment is running at any given time. Ideally, you can have one employee focus on spraying and drying while another prints the ready shirts. Even if you don’t have any help to spare, you can now take in same-day orders that otherwise would have been missed sales.
What You Can Do Instead
The goal of drying pretreat is to bring the surface temperature of the shirt high enough so that no moisture remains to interfere with ink adhesion. How you get here can vary, but we’ve seen great results with the same conveyors and presses you probably use already for ink.
If you hang dry to avoid stains, you can check out some of our guides on pretreating. Our YouTube channel has helpful videos on the most common issues you might come across. You should also be sure to perform your own tests before printing anything new. To help with this, we have a guide following the steps for effective testing.
Finally, you can always reach out to FIREBIRD directly. Our tech support can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 203-306-2988.
The idea that white shirts shouldn’t be pretreated is a common myth. Most of the training that comes with a printer tells you the ink looks good enough by itself on white fabric. Pretreatments can also stain light shirts; either as soon as you press it or later in the sun.
The trick is using a pretreat that can handle a CMYK-only print. Light garment pretreatments, like our FBX-VIVID, are made to avoid stains on whites while offering the benefits that you already see on your darks. Overall, pretreating lighter colors is just as vital as it is on any other print.
Boost Shirt Quality
The above image shows the difference that using FBX-VIVID Pretreatment on a white shirt makes. There is a very clear line where ink was able to react with pretreat and where it soaked into the fabric. This effect is even more obvious once you try to wash the shirt.
The difference that using a light garment pretreatment makes for your wash is impossible to ignore. Skipping this step guarantees that your customers will see the shirt on the left the first time that they wash it.
Print on More Fabrics
Not using a light garment pretreat makes ink much more likely to bleed into the fabric. You might not see this on full cotton, but your inks will run in any amount of polyester. The washout you can expect without pretreat will also worsen with polyester and blended fabrics.
Light garment pretreatments fix these problems. These pretreats are also less prone to staining, making white ink free prints some of the easiest regardless of fabric. Blends, hoodies, and full polyester can all be printed by adding a quick layer of pretreat.
This might seem backwards, but using a light garment pretreat can actually save more money than using no pretreat. Even though you now have to use an extra material, you will see your ink costs drop.
If a customer sends you the above design, you might have to print as much as a full milliliter of ink. If you buy your ink bagged, this print could easily cost $0.25 to print. A light garment pretreatment will cut your ink consumption in half
This effect grows when you realize that a light garment pretreat isn’t limited to white shirts. If there is no white ink in the design, many lighter colored shirts can be printed without an underbase. The same is true even on darker colors with black ink only prints.
If you’d like to give our FBX-VIVID a try or have any more questions about pretreating lights, you can reach out to us at email@example.com or call us at 203-306-2988.
DTG is subjective. You and your competitor have completely different standards of what can be sold to a customer and different methods for getting that sale-worthy print. This can make it difficult for new printers to know how much ink or pretreat they need. FIREBIRD is here to help with that.
The below chart offers a rough guideline on the pretreat vs ink ratios that you can expect while printing. With this in mind, we at FIREBIRD want to highlight a few key points.
1. Fabric Matters
Quality prints are tougher to get on certain shirts. You’ll notice on our graph that ringspun garments consistently need less ink than cheaper carded cotton. Veteran printers are well aware of this and adjust their print settings for lower quality shirts. Meanwhile, heavy blended sweatshirts require more ink and pretreat than any tee.
2. Watch Your Pretreat/Ink Ratio
Novice printers often don’t understand what makes one print better than the next. Each line on our chart has three points highlighted for the best targets. The first point on the left is where you will see a passable print. The farthest right point represents your best cost ratio.
If you go too far left you’ll encounter fibrillation, ink bleeding, and distressed prints. Further right, adding more pretreat isn’t worth the added cost for what it saves in ink. You’ll also see scorching, washout, and stiff fabric if you push to an extreme.
3. Do Your Own Tests
FIREBIRD does what we can to give our customers a place to start. This graph and our T-Shirt Matrix should both help figure out your best settings. However, these are only starting points. Not every shirt is covered by our Matrix and you might find an exception to the rules that we’ve listed here.
This is why you should always test before trying something new. We recommend following our guide on Performing Your Own Pretreatment Tests to help figure out the settings that fit your shop. You can also feel free to give us a call at 203-306-2988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for hand’s on advice.
FB2Go is a 100% polyester pretreated shirt meant for Direct-To-Garment (DTG) printing. Because the whole shirt is pretreated, it is possible to print anywhere on the garment.
Why do I need FB2Go™?
Polyester printing has been called the Holy Grail of DTG. This fabric is unable to withstand the heat necessary to cure most inks without discoloring. Worse, polyester is woven in a way that prevents ink and pretreat from adhering to the shirt, making prints impossible to wash. In conjunction with a custom printing process, FB2Go™ shirts have been specially processed to prevent these issues. This pretreat and process is not available in other forms.
What printers are compatible with FB2Go?
Currently, only the Brother GTX™ and Epson F2000/F2100™ printers have been found to be compatible with FB2Go.* We cannot guarantee results on other printers or third party inks.
What colors and sizes are available?
We offer Black, Scarlet, and Royal Blue in sizes ranging from Small to Extra-Large. Custom colors and sizes are available for any shirt offered on thispage.
How can I place a custom order?
Custom orders should contain a minimum of 72 pieces of each color. Submit a request to this page or email email@example.com for an answer by the end of the next business day. Pricing is based on the total number of pieces ordered.
Are other sizes available?
Yes! Women’s XS-2XL, Youth, and men’s S-3XL sizes are available for custom order.
Can I try an FB2Go before buying?
Like most of our products, we can offer a sample of FB2Go™ for first time users. Leave a note on any order you place with us to request one, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Epson F2000™ is a registered trademark of Epson Seiko Corporation and does not produce, approve of, or warranty this product. Brother® GTX™ is a registered trademark of Brother International Corporation and does not produce, approve of, or warranty this product.
After months of testing and development, FIREBIRD is proud to announce that FB2Go™ shirts are now available. These fully pretreated shirts offer the first true option for Direct to Garment printing onto dark colored polyester. Backed by FIREBIRD’s proven quality, FB2Go provides the best washability and print quality on full poly.
FB2Go uses a special type of pretreat to overcome the issues most common with printing on poly. The process of adding this pretreat also coats all of the fabric evenly. This means that you can print on every part of the shirt without trouble.
If you need other colors or different sizes, FIREBIRD is able to process custom colors and sizes. To find out more about what we have available, you can provide your order information for a quote on pricing and lead time.
Pretreatment is the most important step in DTG, but can be a cause of many problems. Most stains, poor quality prints, and wash issues can be attributed to difficulties with pretreating. However, too few shops are doing their own testing. Even when you are given settings to follow, you should perform tests to match your process with your shop’s unique environment.
What You Need
One of the most important steps is to weigh your shirts during testing. Because of this, you should have a gram scale available. FIREBIRD offers our preferred version, but any kitchen gram scale should suffice.
You should also have several shirts that you intend to print on available and a method of recording your results. The classic graph notebook works for this, but is more likely to be lost than a digital copy and can’t be copied as easily.
Finally, you will need to know the size of the area that you’re spraying onto. Ideally, you can use a consistent automatic sprayer for this. If your sprayer is inconsistent, or if you spray by hand, be sure to have a tape measure available.
Testing Your Pretreatment
1. Weigh your shirt prior to applying pretreatment.
You should be doing this for every shirt that you test, even if it is the same brand, style, and color as one that you just weighed. Ten grams of pretreatment makes a huge difference in print quality, but ten grams of fabric is unnoticeable. Make sure that you record this number.
2. Spray your shirt with pretreat.
If you have recommended settings for your sprayer, try using these as a starting out point. This is also where you should measure the size of your spray area. FIREBIRD recommends a spray area of 14×16 for consistency with heat presses and other print tests.
3. Weigh your wet shirt.
Fold your shirt so that the wet pretreatment only touches itself and place it on the scale.
4. Subtract the weight of the shirt from the new total.
This will tell you how much pretreatment you have applied.
5. Dry the shirt as usual.
This step is part of what makes your shop unique. Pretreat always needs to be fully dried before printing, but presses and dryers can be inconsistent with each other. If you notice poor continuity, it can be helpful to test the temperature of your press or the surface temperature of shirts in a dryer.
6. Record the results.
It’s important that you note your results now. Look for stains, crystals, and discoloring. Any of these might indicate issues with your shirt or process.
7. Print your shirt.
Pay attention to the quality of your print and record your results. Try to use an image that clearly shows the quality of all five DTG ink colors. FIREBIRD will often use a simple color gradient for this.
8. Wash your shirt.
This step is mostly subjective. For example, you might tell your customer to wash Direct to Garment printed shirts inside out and with cold water only. However, that customer is unlikely to follow these steps. Deciding how harsh of a test to perform is totally up to you, although we at FIREBIRD prefer the roughest settings possible.
Applying Your Results
Now that you’ve figured out what settings you need for a fully printed shirt, you can also do the math on other prints. By finding the grams applied per square inch, you also know how many grams you need on other sized images. For example, if you need 30 grams across a 14×16 area, you’re using 0.13 grams per square inch (30 grams ÷ 224 square inches). This means that you can safely spray 4-5 grams on a 6×6 left chest (0.13 g/square inch x 36 square inches = 4.68 grams).
Some shirts are inevitably going to stain or wash poorly. If you have seen this happen during your tests, you may not be able to use this shirt with DTG. This is exceptionally likely with polyester and blended shirts. Fully polyester colored fabrics cannot be reliably printed with DTG at this time and should be avoided.
If you are having trouble printing onto a shirt that FIREBIRD recommends, these tests will tell us exactly where your issue is happening. You can always call us at 203-306-2988 ext 1 or email email@example.com with any questions, comments, or concerns.
With over 100,000 gallons of pretreatment made last year, FIREBIRD coming out with a GTX™ specific formula was inevitable. After all, our F2000™ and GT3™ Optimized Pretreatments were already popular and effective. What surprised even us was just how well our newest pretreat works with the newest line from Brother. FIREBIRD’s GTX™ Optimized Pretreatment costs less, requires less spray on a shirt, and gives images that added quality missing in other brands. With no need to dilute, no possibility of settling, and a wide range of available settings, this is also an incredibly easy pretreat to use. Overall, GTX™ Optimized is a must have for Brother users.
FIREBIRD has also introduced an improved method for internal cleanings. The GTX™ requires the operator to remove gunked up inks from the printer’s inner workings. These cleanings are a long, frustrating process that waste ink. To help deal with this, FIREBIRD now offers an improved Cleaning Solution for these cycles. This cleaner is more effective at breaking up dried ink. With less time spent trying to scraping away at your printer, you should need fewer auto cleanings. This in turn means less time and ink wasted during your maintenance.
It’s common for shops to avoid pretreating CMYK only prints, but the difference in quality is impossible to ignore. A light garment pretreat, like FBX-VIVID, adds serious vibrancy and wash fastness to your shirts. VIVID is also a must-have if you plan to print onto something with any amount of polyester in the fabric. This saves time and ink while printing. Using VIVID means that your GTX™ will not need to perform a double pass of CMYK.
The GTX™ is an industrial machine. The biggest shops will buy the GTX™ by the dozen to crank out thousands of shirts. Even single printer shops should be doing jobs every single day to even consider this printer. With this sheer volume of work, your pretreatment sprayer may suffer. Nozzles can become clogged and spray patterns on shirts can be uneven. Where you would otherwise have to replace parts, FIREBIRD’s Pretreatment Cleaning Solution can salvage sprayers. PCS can be used on anything affected by pretreat gunk and stickiness. You can use it for soaking nozzles, purging lines, and even wiping up spilled pretreat. Adding Pretreatment Cleaning Solution is one of the best ways to keep your sprayer running.
*Brother GTX™ is a registered trademark of Brother International Corporation and has not produced, endorsed, warrantied, or approved of these products.
As an introductory special, Brother GTX owners receive a free gallon of FIREBIRD GTX™ Optimized Pretreatment.* To take advantage of this offer, send a picture of your GTX setup to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your shipping address and company name to receive this gift. This offer is valid to January 2018 and will ship totally free.
FIREBIRD’s newly formulated pretreatment offers excellent white ink vibrancy and eliminates problems typical of pretreatment, like staining or discoloration. With a wide application window, no need to dilute, and no need to shake, this is one of the easiest pretreats available. The GTX™ Optimized Pretreatment is also up to 40% less expensive than other brands.
Brother™ DTG printers have proven to be some of the most reliable machines on the market. Many of their original GT-541s and GT-782s are still running in print shops around the world. The last generation, Brother’s GT-3 series, was popular with more than just the average user. Some of the largest DTG facilities own dozens of GT-381s. FIREBIRD will continue to offer pretreat specific to these printers, but we’re excited for the newest updates with the GTX™.
This offer ends soon, so be sure to get your free pretreatment today!
GTX™ users can also include a picture of their automatic pretreatment sprayer to receive a bottle of PCS Cleaning Solution! This solution can break up clogs, restore nozzles, and remove sticky residue from your pretreat spraying machine.
*Brother is a registered trademark of Brother International Corporation and does not produce, warranty, or approve of this product. Free shipping available within the US only.
One of the best parts of Direct to Garment printing is that you can run it in a small space. Setups in home garages and spare bedrooms are common and allow for orders to be fulfilled without the need to pay rent. A printer, heat press, and hand sprayer for pretreat are all that you immediately need. These don’t take much space and, with luck, you can find them for $10,000 or less. Just because you don’t have a store doesn’t mean that you will lose business. Small quantities of custom orders are where DTG printing shines and many owners of these machines won’t bother with having a physical store to sell their own designs.
Of course, this assumes that your business will even have room for DTG. While veterans of garment decoration need a reliable source for small orders, owners of clothing brands are better off avoiding the cost of equipment for as long as they can. There are many companies that will ship your shirts directly to your customer, with no need for you to do more than make an account and find sales. If you are the owner of a clothing brand, the best advice for you is to focus on selling and designing. You can worry about buying equipment later.
2) White Ink Settles Anywhere That it Sits
Ink settling is the cause of most maintenance problems in Direct to Garment printing. However, most DTG initiates don’t understand all of the problems that this can cause. Printer manufacturers always tell their customers to shake their white ink. Unfortunately, what new owners don’t always understand is that white ink will settle in your lines, dampers, and filters if you don’t use or clean your printer often. When you let it sit overnight, you will see a poor quality white on your first couple prints in the morning. If your printer isn’t used for a few days, you may see clogs and the need to replace parts. Additionally, bags and cartridges need to be shaken constantly or your print quality will suffer.
3) Used Printers Almost Always Have Problems
Buying a used printer is one of the most common reasons that you’ll see for DTG owners asking for online tech support. The sellers of these machines typically let the printers sit unused and un-maintained. If ink was in the printer, you can expect any and all of the previously mentioned settlement problems. You will still see broken parts if Cleaning Solution, water, or no fluid was left in the lines as a result of previously lubricated parts becoming dry.
Overall, you should avoid used printers unless you know what you’re getting into. If you can see the printer in action or receive a written guarantee, the printer may be worth your time. Additionally, some veteran users will come to your shop to repair broken down printers for less than the cost of buying new. Other companies also sell refurbished printers, which is comparable to the quality you can expect from new machines. The important thing is to find what will fit your budget, but still let you begin printing and making your money back right away.
4) Pretreatment Settings Aren’t Standard
Not all shirts are created equal. You will need to adjust settings when changing between shirt brands and colors if you want consistent prints. This is true even for pretreatment. If you lay down a single amount of pretreat for all colors and all brands, you will lose image quality and wash fastness. FIREBIRD typically suggests using more pretreatment on lower quality and darker shirts. Less is needed for higher quality and lighter colors.
The easiest way to adjust the amount of pretreatment used is with an automatic sprayer. However, even these expensive machines lack standard settings. You may be surprised to know that your own machine has no check for how much pretreat is put on the shirt. While auto sprayers have numbers indicating the amount of pretreatment applied, they are only showing “more” or “less”. Additionally, many sprayers have not been calibrated, so two of the same brand may spray different amounts with the same settings. The only way to really understand your settings is to do your own tests. This brings us to our final, most important point.
5) The Most Successful Printers do Their Own Tests
No two shirt shops are identical. Your exact combination of shirts, printers, and even climate affect everything you print. Because of this, experimenting is key. We suggest performing wash tests on any garment that you bring into your setup. You should also keep notes on the ink and pretreatment settings that you used on your best prints.
FIREBIRD has specific issues to look out for included in our other posts. Below is simply a bit of general DTG advice to help you get started with your testing.
If your shirt washes poorly, pay attention to how the image came off. Different problems cause different wash issues. We go into more details about this here.
Polyester needs special handling to work with DTG. This includes blends, sweatshirts, and any “neon” or “safety” colored shirts.
Red shirts discolor from heat. This will fade as the shirt cools and there is no reason to worry.
Too much pretreatment is likely to stain and wash poorly. Too little pretreatment will suffer from poor print quality and wash out. Try to find the “sweet spot” for colors and brands.
Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to FIREBIRD. We have a broad knowledge base and are available by email at email@example.com.