Integrating DTF Functionality With EPSON SC-F2130 DTG Printer
Integrating DTF Functionality With DTG Printer
EPSON’s Direct-To-Garment printing, also known as DTG or Digital T-shirt printing has been making a name for itself over the past 8 years. In the 2013 Chicago Print Show, EPSON first introduced the EPSON SureColor F2000 printer. Undoubtedly its release garnered plenty of attention as the printer addressed many prevalent concerns in DTG printing technology back in then. One of the most notable features on the EPSON SureColor F2000 was its ink set. With a two-year shelf life, operators need not worry about the settling and clogging of ink sediments as previously noted in previous DTG inks.
In 2018, EPSON announced its second generation DTG printer – the EPSON SureColor F2130. Design exclusively for direct to garment t-shirt printing, the F2130 is entirely built for the purpose to produce high quality digital prints at production speeds. Leveraging on the EPSON PrecisionCore® TFP® printhead and UltraChrome® DG garment ink, the purpose-built technology achieves production speed that is twice as fast as its predecessor.
The new F2130 offers a 4-colour ink technology, with the addition of White Ink, to deliver improved image print quality, on top of its enhanced production speed and efficiency onto garments. The new DTG printer also saw upgrade for garment production of different sizes. A quick-load garment platen and a robust EPSON Garment Creator Software takes productivity on the F2130 on a whole new level. The all-new maintenance system on the printer was also notable with the integrated self-cleaning system which means further reduction in manual interference and downtime.
Built based on the already industry leading EPSON F2000, the new F2130’s integrated inline self-cleaning system is designed for reliability reduced maintenance time. The printer performs daily self-maintenance with a line that transports cleaning solution through to its printheads. In addition, white ink also undergoes a triple layered filter before it reaches the printhead to reduce white ink nozzle clogging for greater start up time and printer reliability.
The F2130 boasts its utilisation of EPSON’s PrecisionDot technology that is designed to create output with smoother tonal gradations, improved image detailing and preservation on the garment. Newly developed print modes - Light Garment Mode, and Highlight White mode, offers consistent print quality. The all-new Highlight White mode achieves brighter White ink output by applying a second coat of White ink, while printing colour ink simultaneously for enhanced printing speeds. Touting a new garment grip pad, the F2130 allows users to load garments quickly onto the printer platen more efficiently as compared to the traditional method.
Direct-To-Film (DTF) Printing Technology
Direct-to-film (DTF) transfer printing is a revolutionary technology utilising water-based pigmented ink to print on Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) film. The artwork will first be printed with a layer of coloured ink before a second layer of white ink is printed. After which, the printed image will go through a processing machine where powdering and curing of the artwork occurs. Once the printing and curing is complete, all that’s left is to do a quick trim of the artwork. Using a heat press machine, transfer the artwork on the film onto the fabric at about 170⁰C for about 15 seconds and remove the film.
*Point to note: the artwork printed needs to be in a mirrored fashion for the application to be facing in the right direction when it undergoes the heat press treatment.
The end result will leave only the desired artwork on the fabric. DTF printing can be applied onto the same fabric merchandise as the heat transfer vinyl.
CASTECH’s EPSON F2130 Dual Purpose Garment Printer
After much deliberation and experimentation. CAS Technology has enabled EPSON’s F2130 garment printer to function as a Dual-Purpose Solution. We have integrated our RIP software into the F2130 to support both the DTG and DTF printing capabilities, while maintaining the utilisation of EPSON’s original inks. The utilisation of EPSON original inks meant that white ink circulation and self-cleaning systems will also reduce maintenance and downtime.
There is no need to modify media tracking on the F2130 garment printer as it is a flatbed printer. Hence, the EPSON printer will continue to operate exactly as designed with the inclusion of DTF printing capabilities while preserving the warranty status.
DTF printing technology requires white ink to be printed above the coloured inks which is unconventional as compared to DTG printing technology that prints a white base first. However, with CASTECH’s RIP software features the ability to allow users the option to apply white ink over the entire substrate, image area, or specifically select an area to apply white ink without having to open additional graphic applications. Other complex designs may still be done in other graphic application software as well if the user is more comfortable with it.
For an efficient production, white and coloured inks can be printed simultaneously in the same pass. After printing, adhesive powder is applied to the wet ink - just like any other cut sheet DTF processes. Alternatively, application of the adhesive powder can be done manually by using a tray and sprinkling some adhesive powder in the middle of the print before using a small oven to cure the adhesive powder onto the film.
Once curing is completed, all that’s left is to do a general trim of the artwork. Using a heat press machine, transfer the artwork on the film onto the fabric.
CASTECH's Mini Curing Oven
Eliminating EPSON F2130’s Limitation
With the DTF printing technology, the Epson F2130 will not just limited to printing on cotton T-shirt, Users can now print on black cotton T-shirt and polyester mix t-shirt, without pre-treating the garment. Pure polyester garments are also no longer an issue for Epson F2130. Expand printing capabilities by transferring images onto majority of fabrics, and odd shape merchandises like shoes, caps and hoodie.