Colin Marsh, CEO of Resolute Print Group, explains how new automated equipment is transforming DTG printing into a ‘green button process’
In the world of printing, ‘green button process’ is shorthand for the use of automated equipment that is quick and easy to operate, reduces the requirement for operator training and manual maintenance, and generally takes the hassle out of producing high quality prints – ie printing at the touch of a (green) button. Colin Marsh, CEO of Resolute Print Group, has been involved in direct-to- garment printing since its inception and during that time has seen it progress from “a process that required a trained technician to a simple green button process that practically anyone can use with little or no experience”. According to Colin, this transition has been made possible by the recent advances in highly automated DTG printing systems.
When analysing the development of green button process DTG, where better to start than at the beginning, with pre-treatment. “With the launch of programmable machines capable of generating no overspray and very little waste, the process is now so simple it’s almost therapeutic,” says Colin. In his opinion, the new Viper Maxx pre-treatment machine from iGroup Technology has taken pre-treatment to another level and, when coupled with a modern DTG printer, delivers a true green button solution. The fully programmable Viper Maxx works a little like a three-axis printer, but uses a spray nozzle instead of a print head.
The fully programmable Viper Maxx works a little like a three- axis printer, but uses a spray nozzle instead of a print head
“With over 30 pre-sets for area and four pre-set levels of pre-treatment that are selected by visual icons on the touchscreen, this is by far the simplest offline pre-treatment method available,” Colin suggests. “The quality of the pre-treatment is also far superior to most other methods. This is due to the scanning bar micro-weaving as it sprays, with a very short distance between the nozzle and the garment. The solution is forced into the small pockets in the fibres, giving a very high-quality finish. The printed image quality is exceptional with few or no pinholes appearing in the white ink, even on suitable sweatshirts and hoodies.” Simplifying the pre-treatment process to a range of user selectable pre-sets – with editing possible when required – also allows operator training to be web-based, adds Colin. “This suits a high percentage of companies as training can be localised and deliverable multiple times with no real costs involved.”
The next piece in the green button process jigsaw is a suitable DTG printer. Resolute recommends the Ricoh Ri 6000, which uses a larger than average touchscreen for ease of operation and allows print jobs to be sent from any PC on the same network via Ethernet connection, Wi-Fi, USB cable or direct from a USB pen drive. “The operator is prompted with a message on the screen when a new job arrives, and jobs can be stored in the on-board computer for use at a later date or simply deleted once the print run is complete. Consumable levels and maintenance are all monitored by the on-board computer and no PC connection is required to perform any of the routine maintenance,” reports Colin. An alternative to the Ri 6000 is the new Ri 1000, which is currently rolling out globally and is scheduled to land in the UK imminently. This new design offers the same large touchscreen interface with intuitive prompts that make it simple for an operator to use with very little training. It features on-board white ink management, auto maintenance and “a clever wiper mechanism” for reduced maintenance by the operator.
The final stage in green button process DTG is the curing of the prints. “In a busy environment auto-opening heat presses are a must – a simple buzzer can be easily missed in a busy print room and this can result in a stained garment,” Colin explains. There are many auto-opening presses already available on the market, however auto hover is a new feature found on a press that’s designed for DTG: the heat platen hovers above the garment to aid the curing of prints with a heavy ink deposit before the press is closed for the final cure. Alternatively, a tunnel dryer that’s suitable for curing DTG prints will offer the easiest and quickest method of curing DTG prints and fits seamlessly into the green button process, Colin advises. Resolute is inviting Images readers to visit its new showroom in Chesterfield to see green button process DTG printing in action for themselves.