It's not Rocket Science


direct to film and what dtf mixed media all american print supply co

"Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life." 

― Immanuel Kant

It doesn’t really get much easier to offer high-end custom apparel with tremendous hand feel than direct-to-garment printing. You load the shirt into the machine and it literally prints unlimited colors in beautiful resolution directly onto the garment. There is really only one learning curve when it comes to this print method, and that is pretreatment (or otherwise known as pretreat). To really comprehend how important pretreating is, we must identify its role in DTG.

What is Pretreatment?

Pretreatment is a liquid solution that has two major jobs to fill in the printing process. The primary function is to create a foundation for the ink to print onto (specifically the white ink - without pretreat, no white is being printed). This foundation prevents the ink from soaking into the actual garment once printed. Think of this as priming drywall before painting a room. The primer enables the paint to sit on top of the wall’s surface as opposed to being absorbed by the drywall - same principle here. The other function is to partially set the white ink to the material and, in effect, preventing the CMYK layer on top from mixing. Without proper pretreating, the direct-to-garment printed apparel would be a total loss of ink, garment, and, worst of all, time.

How to apply Pretreat?

Pretreat can be applied by hand with the use of any number of sprayers. Equipment designed for applying paint, such as the Wagner spray gun, has become the go-to option for those looking to avoid the investment of an actual pretreat machine, and this can be effective. With testing, a printer can develop a technique for even application and the correct amount of pretreat applied to get a solid print. We have also seen end-users in the field using what are known as continuous mist spray bottles that you may see in the beauty salon or barbershop. These are a cleaner option as the spray is not motorized and can be applied with more discretion compared to the latter.

A pretreat machine would be the ideal solution for consistent production, shirt in/shirt out. The reason being is that a pretreat machine offers the ability to apply a set amount of pretreat in a set (print) area. This can speed up the amount of test time to determine how much pretreat is ideal for an individual garment and can be reproduced consistently print to print. In my opinion, a pretreat machine is more than worth its weight when it comes to efficient direct-to-garment printing.


We recently got the opportunity to cover the latest pretreat formula from Firebird, and my goodness, were we impressed. From a production standpoint, the new ‘less sticky’ formulation resulted in smoother production when it came to the drying process and allowed me to keep a fast pace preparing dozens and dozens of garments for DTG printing, and the results have been stellar. At All American, we are proud to offer more pretreat solutions than any other competitor, as we know people have their favorites with settings already dialed in. Let me tell you this: if you are printing black or dark fabric t-shirts, do yourself a favor and try out the Firebird NOVA blend with your normal settings (or lower density) and see for yourself!

Meet our author

All American Print Supply Co Estevan Romero Profile Picture

Estevan Romero

Brand Marketing Lead

Esteven Romero began making YouTube videos back in 2017 to help new business owners learn how to use their products and grow their operation.


He has been featured in many companies content such as Siser North America, Key Print Co and more. He has been featured as a speaker/presenter nationwide across the tradeshow circuit sharing information and insight to the print community audience and brings 13+ years of experience to the table.

You can meet Estevan and more of the friendly All American Print Supply Co team by visiting the company live events calendar and our YouTube channel.

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