Sean Barker of GS UK demonstrates how CADlink software can help you to get the most out of your DTG printer and create detailed and vibrant prints from even poor quality artwork

I’ve been demonstrating DTG printers for years and remain hugely impressed by the image quality produced by the printers we sell. As with any graphics arts process, however, the quality of the original artwork will always have an influence on the quality of the final print. I see this as an opportunity, explaining to our customers that is it possible to realise the full capabilities of DTG machines by skilful adjustment of the original artwork file using CADlink software.

In an ideal world, customers would supply high quality artwork, but that’s not the reality. We’ve all been in that situation where customers send low quality artwork but still expect a high quality print. However, with the latest Digital Factory Apparel Brother Edition Version 10 from CADlink, it’s possible to achieve top class DTG prints time after time, even from poor quality original images. Equally, Digital Factory Apparel enables you to harness the full capabilities of modern DTG printers to achieve the ultimate print from high quality artwork. It provides a complete set of image preparation, as well as job workflow and colour management tools, all within a single software product.

So, how does this software work? For starters, it allows you to reproduce a much greater colour range than with standard print drivers. It also offers a wide range of production automation features, including the time-saving ‘Knock me out’ tools, which automatically remove specific design colours that match garment colours. This eliminates the need for ink to be printed in those areas, leading to superior prints (and lower ink usage). Also included is advanced handling of white ink management, which not only allows users to make great savings on white ink costs, but again increases the image print quality and feel as well. Users can also select and create pre-defined print queues that are based on colour or type of garment, along with establishing resolution requirements and preferred colour printing requirements, such as realistic or vibrant. These features provide a great deal of printing options as well as greatly increasing productivity and reducing potential production errors.

Fig. 1 – The original print with no software adjustments. It’s a strong image but the final print is compromised by the poor quality of the original artwork

Fig. 2 – A print from the same artwork after it has been processed using CADlink software. Note the more vibrant and more accurate colours and greater level of detail that has been achieved

Over the years, I’ve acquired a deep understanding of precisely how to modify and alter an artwork design to produce the highest quality prints possible, and now our customers can easily do the same thanks to this software package.

The first example (figure 1) shows a print made from the original design with no software adjustments and with only one pass of pre-treatment via a Schulze Pretreatmaker IV machine.

The print from the unadjusted image is of a high standard; however, it is possible to get an even more vibrant result by reloading the original design in the new software package to adjust the colour profile. The result, as shown in figure 2, fully harnesses the DTG printer’s capabilities to produce a brighter and more colourful result. By manipulating the artwork in the new software, I was able to increase the colour profile, allowing me to easily reproduce the more difficult colours in the design to obtain a truer representation. This type of image adjustment can be achieved on coloured garments, and a separate profile is available for black and white garments, which helps with set-up on mixed coloured orders. What makes these image adjustment features especially useful to the average printer operator is that they provide expert-looking colour adjustments but use a very simplified user interface that is fairly straight forward to master by even the most novice user.

Adjusting artwork before a production run can have a positive effect not only on the look of the final printed product, but also on the overall production cost. The adjustments can result in lower ink usage and, by eliminating any unnecessary ink content, they can also produce a print with a softer hand-feel.

A close up view of the prints from the unprocessed [left] and processed image files

Another option, as shown in the adjusted print, is to use a 600 dpi white underbase with a 1200 dpi CMYK finish, which can, in some instances, also increase garment output per hour.

Some artists using more run-of-the-mill software packages will attempt to achieve similar results by altering the contrast and hue of the original artwork. However, this approach can be complex and requires extensive testing to ensure its suitability. By contrast, adjusting the colour profile settings using the CADlink software is relatively easy; the process requires minimal effort to achieve noticeably more vibrant prints with punchier colours.

As these examples clearly show, adjusting artwork before a production run can have a profound – not to mention customer-pleasing – effect, not only on the final printed product. Buying a reliable, high quality directto- garment machine is vital, while understanding how to get the best out of the equipment that you have invested in can put you that extra step ahead of your competitors.