Become a DTG Operator

During this course, cadet will be introduced to Mercury DTG background, terminology, machinery and more. The cadet will have a working knowledge of the parts of a Kornit Printer as well as a basic understanding of machine operation.

What is DTG printing?

Apparel Printing

Types of Printing

In the apparel industry, there are two primary methods for printing onto garments. The old school method of "screen printing" and the new method of Direct-to-Garment; or DTG printing. 

With traditional Screen Printing, in order to print the products the user must first create "screens". The screens will have the image printed onto them it is these screens that the ink will be pushed through to create the image. 

DTG removes the need for "screens" and prints, as the name implies, directly to the garment using a water-based ink. This removes the need for screen creation, exposing, drying, ink reclaim and screen reclaim.

Screen Print Machine

Screen printing requires lengthy processes to be completed before the operator is truly able to print the garments. Once ready however, the operator is able to print one shirt every 6 seconds.

DTG Print Machine

DTG printing uses a much smaller machine than screen print, although the DTG machines used in Mercury cost ~$450,000! The hefty price tag is a result of the world class technology found in Kornit Printers.

DTG Printers at Mercury

Kornit - Avalanche / Hexa

Mercury utilizes two different models of Kornit Digital machines, the Kornit Avalanche 1000 (AVK) and the Kornit Hexa. Each machine type has advantages and disadvantages over the other. Each of these machines contains world class technology and systems that Teespring uses to bring creator designs to life.

Kornit Avalanche 1000 (AVK) - Mercury has 5 Kornit AVK's in house. These machines are best utilized for white or solid color printing at a high volume. The Kornit AVK systems only contain four print-heads
(C/Y/M/K - Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black)

Kornit Hexa - The Kornit Avalanche Hexa is the primary model used in Mercury with 11 machines in the production operation. The Hexa is capable of printing much more detailed and vivid prints (think photographs, pro sports team logos etc.) although it does print slightly slower than the AVK in order to achieve this superior quality. The Kornit Hexa contains six print-heads (C/Y/M/K + R/G - Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black + Red/Green) which allow it to print more vivid colors and high quality. We'll learn more about specifically what these letters mean in later courses.

DTG Terminology

DTG Terminology

DTG - Direct to Garment

Fixation - Pre-treatment solution 

Hot Pick - Defective print, must be replaced

Banding - Poor print coverage that resembles stripes

Head Strike - When a print head makes contact with a surface. This can damage the print-heads and is a very costly fix.

Expedited - Rush orders that customers have paid extra $ to receive sooner

WMS - Warehouse Management System 

Apollo - Mercury's WMS used to process orders

5s - Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain. The housekeeping/organization rules of Mercury

LPN - License Plate Number. This is the unique identifier for each individual unit

Question: What does "DTG" mean?

  • Down To Grub
  • Don't Take Garments
  • Direct To Garment
  • Don't Throw Glitter

Question: What do the letters CYMK represent?

  • Chestnut, Mint, Yale Blue, Kelly Green
  • Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black
  • Chartreuse, Maize, Yew, Keppel
  • Coral, Mahogony, Yellow-Orange, Khaki

Understanding a Kornit

Kornit - Basic Components

Printer Portal - DTG Printing Tool

DTG Printing Tool

Mercury operations rely on a variety of internal systems to manufacture and fulfill customer orders. Operators will primarily use the DTG printing tool which is located inside of the Printer Portal. The DTG printing tool is used to load files into the printing queue. The printing queue is the virtual "sequence" in which garments need to be printed.

Selecting Printer #

Mercury has 16 DTG Printers in house and each one is identified accordingly (Printer 1, Printer 2, Printer 3...) Operators will select the printer they are assigned to by clicking the corresponding printer button.

Scan LPN

Once operator is logged into their respective printer, they are now able to begin scanning the LPN (License Plate Number) into the printing tool. It is important to note that the DTG printing tool will automatically log users out after 5 minutes of inactivity.

Printing a Garment

Load Garment

Operator will load the garment onto the pallet with the side to be printed on facing up. Operator must ensure garment is straight and flat. In addition, operator must eliminate all potential print obstructions. All drawstrings (hoodies), sleeves and wrinkles must be tucked away from the print area. 

Close Pallet Cover

Once print obstructions have been cleared and garment is ready for printing, operator will close the pallet cover. Once the pallet cover is closed, operator should again verify that all print obstructions are cleared from the print surface. If operator fails to eliminate print obstructions, this can cause a print-head strike. These are labor intensive and can be very costly to fix.

Time to Print!

Once an operator has performed the necessary steps to prepare the garment and it has been loaded to the press, it is time to print! Operator will stand directly in front of the pallet to be printed and simultaneously press the Print Button on both the left and right of the pallet.

Identify the basic parts of the Kornit Printer (listed below).

Humidity Gauge

Pallet - Left

Pallet - Right

Emergency Stop -Left

Emergency Stop - Right

Keyboard & Mous

Print Button - Left

Print Button - Middle

Print Button - Right 

World Class Quality

Understanding Our Customers

Defective Product - Reason Codes

Banding - The presence of vertical lines in the print. Looks like ink didn't cover the whole area.

Blemish - An area of the print that has a mark, flaw or spoil in excess.

Blurry - Print is blurry.

"Cactus- Cactus is a result of too much fixation. Print areas poke out resembling a cactus.

Color - Incorrect color print/garment, print/garment color doesn't match the mock up.

Cut off Artwork is cut off, i.e. top bottom or sides will be cut off.

Drop Shadow - Shadowing behind a print that isn't present in mock up.

Head Strike -Operator used wrong riser or printed wrong garment which caused garment to make contact with print head.

Holes/Tears -Holes/Tears in the shirt or frayed hoodie strings, stain on the shirt

Misplaced PrintPrint is too high, too low or crooked.

No Spray - No fixation spray was applied.

Pixelated - Print looks pixelated and blurred.

Registration - Heads are not aligned causing white underbase to show.

Too Little Spray Fixation agent didn't cover all of print area causing faded colors and horizontal dull areas.

Too Much Spray - Print area has prickly cactus like edges and pinholes in large areas.

Transparency - Shadowing that is printed completely solid.

White Box - White box prints behind artwork that isn't present in mock up.

Wrong Design - Operator printed the wrong art work

Wrong ShirtOperator printed artwork on the wrong shirt.

Wrong SideOperator printed artwork on the wrong side

Stretched ArtworkArtwork is stretched

No Art in Shared DriveOperator used a bad art file, while printing tool said to use new file.