Top tips for how to pre-treat sleeves quickly and painlessly


Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Sleeves are one of those things you know you should offer, but don’t really want to do: they are fiddly, low profit and take almost as long as printing the front or back of a T-shirt, so why do we do them?!

Most high-end retail shirts will have at least one sleeve decorated, so in order to get the most for your DTG process a sleeve print will normally be all you need to win a sale over a similarly priced garment without a sleeve print.

Here are a few tips on how to successfully apply pre treatment to sleeves as quick and painless as possible.

  • Make sure you have a large box to use if you are hand spraying the sleeves
  • If using a pre-treatment machine, make or buy a wipe/washable jig. See Figure 1
  • Cover the areas that do not require pre-treatment with plastic or an old T-shirt. See Figure 2
  • Use card inserts or similar when drying the pre-treated sleeves
  • Check if your machine supplier has a specific platen for printing sleeves. This is sure to be the best option and well worth the cost of an extra platen. See Figure 3
  • Aim to print sleeves first as they will use the least ink in the event of a spoiled shirt
  • Keep print areas to around 90 mm maximum or they will disappear around the curve of the arm

Charging extra for sleeve printing is a must, but keep it realistic: you are going the extra mile in order to make your printing service or design look more attractive. Adding a few pounds for a sleeve will definitely be seen as added value to most purchasers and should be enough to gain the business.

Colin Marsh, managing director, Resolute DTG