Keeping your machines clean is, and always has been, absolutely vital in Direct to Garment printing. More often than not, skipping, forgetting, or missing regular maintenance on a printer will mean poor prints and the need for new parts. While this is a given for the printers themselves, another expensive piece of equipment owned by most shops is largely ignored. Automatic pretreatment sprayers may not suffer from clogged ink, but can still see problems over time. While past methods of dealing with this were limited to water, cleaners meant for grease, and scrubbing, FIREBIRD Digital Inks has created a Pretreatment Cleaning Solution to improve the life of sprayers and keep print shops tidy.
Recovering Clogged Nozzles
In our constant work to make the next big breakthrough in DTG, FIREBIRD has tested thousands of pretreatment formulas. While this constant experimentation has benefited printers worldwide, it often damages our sprayers. You can see a behind-the-scenes photo from what we used to deal with here:
This photo was taken to show how poorly our machine had been working. Across six nozzles, not a single pair overlap with each other. If this shirt were printed, there would be obvious lines in the ink where pretreatment was and wasn’t applied. This would be the best case, as the pooled pretreatment in each strip would likely stain the shirt beyond use. To continue our pretreatment experiments, we had to come up with a solution for fixing these bad spray patters.
This is the same pretreatment sprayer and brand of shirt after soaking the nozzles for fifteen minutes. After a short amount of time, we were already able to bring back most of our functionality. By then cleaning the nozzles further with a pick, we fully fixed this machine without the need to spend money on new spray tips. If we had continued to soak the tips overnight, we may have been able to avoid the need for cleaning with a pick altogether.
We have prevented seeing these issues again by adding Pretreatment Cleaning Solution to our daily maintenance routine. Before shutting down for the night, we now drain the pretreatment from our lines and load in our cleaner. We will also pour a small amount into a jar and soak the spray tips until the next time they are needed. In the below picture, you can see the results of this. Pretreatment has congealed at the bottom of the jar, rather than sticking to the nozzles and causing issues while spraying.
Spot Cleaning Pretreat
Pretreatment is sticky stuff. This helps it mat down fibers on shirts, but at the cost of leaving a gross feeling residue behind. Instead of scrubbing until this is gone, Pretreatment Cleaning Solution can be used to easily break through the gunk and keep a shop pristine. Simply soaking a rag and wiping down anything that pretreat touches will fix this common annoyance. This can be helpful for cleaning common spills or removing the lint left behind by sweatshirts.