(all useful info and knowledge about pre printing and production before going to press with your job)
When printing inside care labels inside a garment, sometimes the image that is being printed can show thru the garment to the back of the garment (more with lighter colored garments). We take all precautions necessary to not make this happen, but depending on the weight of the garment, sometimes it’s inevitable. A dense image that uses more ink when printed has a higher chance of showing through. If printing on light garments, its best to keep artwork light and non-detailed to avoid this completely. Also, when trying to print a separate image on the outside top center back of a shirt, which is the same place the tag print is located (opposite sides of the shirt), those graphics can conflict and show thru on each other, making it difficult to read each of them. Keep this in mind when organizing the placement of artwork.
All Over Prints
Printing all over prints is really just a shortcut for large format printing, then cutting/sewing the printed fabric together. All over printing is possible, and sometimes cheaper than cut & sew when doing smaller runs of a design, but is a very difficult and inconsistent form of printing. In screen printing, anything that is printed over seams has potential to produce inconsistencies in the print. Although we will always be up front about this before taking on a job, we are not responsible for any inconsistencies that happen due to this nature of screen printing.
Foil printing is the least permanent decoration that we use. Although we take every possible precaution to permanently bind foil printing to the garment, it largely requires proper care and maintenance in order to keep its permanency and brilliance. If not cared for properly, foil has tendency to tarnish after washing and possibly flake off after a few washes. We recommend including washing instructions with all foil-decorated garments. All foil garments should be washed inside out and never heat dried. Large solid areas of foil may exhibit slight speckling. We do everything to minimize this effect but is sometimes inevitable and for this, we feel foil is generally better suited for distressed looks, accents and designs with primarily negative space.
Through the advancements of modern science, discharge printing has become an amazing way to print on dark garments and keep a super soft feel. Although this is an amazing advancement, there are still some downfalls of this type of printing. Mainly, not all shirts discharge equally, given that each shirt color has slightly different dyes that are used to attain that color on the final product. Because of this, discharge reacts differently to certain colors, leaving it not able to discharge evenly all the way through like other colors. These colors (mainly Kelly Green, Red, Royal Blue, Lapis, Cobalt, Purple, Forest, Teal, and Turquoise) do not discharge well. Also, sometimes there is a slight crusty feel on top of the ink after these shirts are printed, due to the bleaching effect. This will come right off after the first wash, leaving the shirts very soft with absolutely no ink feel.
Printing Over Seams
The art of perfect screen printing requires a seamlessly smooth surface. (ex: sometimes when printing large quantities, and a small thread from one of the shirts gets onto the pallet where we are printing, and a shirt gets put on over it and printed, you can see that small thread thru the ink on the shirt). So, printing over uneven surfaces (sometimes, even as small as a thread) tends to be imperfect, is much more difficult and requires some tricks in order to make it look good. It’s possible to do, and sometimes people love the way that an inconsistent print looks (showing as a vintage or worn / tattered look). Sometimes we are able to limit the amount of imperfections shown, depending on the thickness and type of ink used when printing over seams, but there will almost be inconsistencies in the print. We will always be up front with all potential inconsistencies before going to press, but we are not responsible for these imperfections when printing over any uneven areas.
This size of printing is something that has become very popular. People sometimes want the largest print possible. This is easy for us to do, but keep in mind the print area must be smooth and free of any seams, neck lines or bottom hems. Printing over any unsmooth surfaces will lead to inconsistent prints. Keep this in mind when printing on tank tops, V-necks or scoop necks, since these shirts tend to have things in the print area that would inhibit a perfect print. Also, jumbo prints require larger than normal pallets to put the shirts on. When using these pallets, printing on Ladies / Youth tees will usually require us to stretch these shirts in order to fit over the pallet, distorting the image. Keep this in mind when preparing your art and size breakdowns.
Printing Fine Detail
Modern day screen printing has given us the ability to print very fine detail on a variety of mediums. Although we specialize in using a variety of screen mesh to achieve the fine detail that is required for each job, there are still certain mediums that prohibit us from being able to replicate this fine detail. These items are usually things that have rough surfaces (canvas tote bags and certain aprons) and any garments made with ribbed, burnout or pique material. (Just remember, the rougher the material, the more difficult fine detail is to achieve). Also, all metallic inks require lower mesh counts to print the thick metallic pieces thru the screen, making it impossible for fine detail to be achieved. As always, we will always be forthcoming if we feel this will be a problem before going to press with your job.
Although ribbed garments (like boy beaters) are great form fitting garments to wear, they are very difficult to print. Imagine, the ribbed material essentially has 2 layers of ribs (one on top, and the other on bottom when the garment is stretched out). If we print the ribbed material without stretching the garment out, the ink sits on top of the ribs, allowing it to crack when stretched. If we print it with the garment stretched out, the ink will go on both layers of ribs, then when shrunk back down, only half the image will be visible (since the other half is on the bottom part of the ribs). Bottom line, printing on ribbed garments is difficult, inconsistent and highly not recommended.
Poly Blend Garments
The polyester / cotton blend T-shirts have become very popular items, given that they are lighter weight, breathe a little better than cotton shirts, and have a very unique vintage heather look to them. Because these garments are made with a completely different material than standard 100% cotton tees, they require slightly different printing methods to achieve a perfect print. Polyester material is much more susceptible to heat, and burns much faster than cotton garments. Because of this, these shirts should not be underbased when using plastisol ink. When printing with tri-blend garments, we recommend either all waterbased inks or a single print softened plastisol. Both of these options will bring a slightly lighter looking print, but most people get these shirts for a more faded worn vintage look anyways, and we feel that not having a heavy print is what this style of shirt is intended for.
This is a process that occurs when plastisol ink is printed onto polyester blend garments and creates a gaseous effect from the polyester that slightly tints the color of the ink to the color of the garment. This usually only happens with when white ink is printed onto Dark Red, Navy, Maroon or even Dark Green garments. If your image is ever printed on a predominately polyester garment with white plastisol ink (in the colors listed above), your image could come out with a slightly faded worn vintage look. In our opinion, triblend tees usually look better with this style of printing, but if this isn’t what you’re going for, we recommend placing an underbase down first.
Printing multiple colors of halftone images is one of the ways to get a full color CMYK print with screen printing. Although this is a great way to get photographic images by simply using 4 screens, this also has potential to create a visually evident superimposed pattern created when two identical transparent patterns on a flat surface are overlaid while displaced or rotated a small amount from one another. (we know, that’s a mouth full). Basically, because of the way the different halftone dots were laid on top of each other, and the angle that the dots were originally laid out, a visual pattern is formed in the image. If ever presenting us with print ready artwork, and you don’t want to pay for us to color separate your artwork the correct way, we are not responsible for any types of patterns in your CMYK prints.
Printing on outerwear
Printing on outerwear sometimes can be tricky. There are certain outerwear garments that require special attention. Printing over zippers requires us to use a specialize pallet, and due to the fact that each hoodie is made slightly differently, a small gap along the zipper seam is possible. Also, any garment that is double lined is impossible to tack down to the pallet, which means only a single color print can be printed on these. (multicolored prints will not be perfectly registered). Also, garments that are made of different fabric than cotton or polyester usually tends to need its own specialized type of ink (nylon jackets, rayon/mesh garments). Also, hoodies are thick and tend to soak up a lot of ink. Because of this, the color of the hoodie will often times influence the color of the ink. To avoid this, we recommend using a hoodie with high cotton count (at least 80%) and printing with discharge inks to avoid underbasing and plastisol inks.
There are many different types of printing methods used in screen printing. Most of these are currently used in the screen printing industry today, though some are a slightly outdated, and others are intended for lithography. Nonetheless, each is beneficial and used for a slightly different purpose.
- Spot Color Printing – In this, the most common form of screen printing, this method uses the stock color of the ink without alterations by printing it through the stencil in wide open areas of the screen mesh. This will produce a very vibrant solid “spot” of color. Printing in spot colors will be helpful in achieving opacity on darker garments. Its also the cheapest form of all the printing methods.
- Halftone Printing – This process involves printing one or multiple colors of ink in very small gradient dots. With this process, a single color of ink can be used to achieve a visual appearance of multiple colors. Halftone printing is great when you want to achieve the look of multi color printing without the expense of multiple screens. These tones can range all the way from a solid spot to a very fine halftone of the same color. For instance, if we print red on a white shirt and include a 50% gradient of the red, the 50% gradient will “mix” with the white of the tee shirt giving the appearance of a pink color. Therefore, we achieve a print with red and pink but only using one screen and one color of ink.
- Grayscale Printing – Similar to halftone printing, this is a simple way of printing full color photographic images by using single color halftone dots. Full color drawings or paintings that contain complete tonal ranges in different colors may also be reproduced by means of a 1 color halftone. This is the same way that photographs in newspapers are printed. This is generally done with ALL black or white ink (on contrary colors).
- Duotone Printing – This method is still printed using halftone dots, but it is using 2 different colors together to make a multi-colored image. This method allows for more than just a single color to be used. It is slightly more difficult (2 screens are needed) but still adds a slightly more flavor than a standard halftone print. (this can be compared to a sephia colored photograph).
- Direct to Garment Printing – This is a printing method that has been developed only in the last few years. It uses very specialized and modern ink jet technology by using very small micro-sprayers to apply waterbased ink directly onto the garment, similar to that of an inkjet printer (only on apparel). This permanent process leaves a very soft hand, but in most cases can be very expensive. The benefit is that images can be printed in full color without the labor or cost of any set up fees or screens. Digital printing technologies are non-contact, meaning that media is printed on without hand contact, allowing for a more precise image.
- Dye Sublimation Printing – (also called Sublimation) – A process in which a large format paper heat transfers are printed using specialized dye sublimation inks, then those heat transfers are designed to be imprinted on textiles using a heat transfer machine. This process can be full color without any set up or screens, yet can only be transferred onto 100% polyester material.
- 4 color Process (CMYK) Printing – Although this process can be done via screen printing, since the 1980’s it hasn’t been common practice. (And is used more in Lithography today). This process uses the four primary colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) combined together to recreate the full tonal and color range of any original image. Each color printer is a halftone of the opposite color in the original image. This system is based on what light is being absorbed. This is by far the most complicated and expensive process for apparel. The process printing method has been replaced by the simpler, and less expensive, simulated process printing method.
- Simulated Process Printing – This process also uses the 4 primary colors combined together but can also integrate spot colors as well. An image is separated into its 4 primary colors, then each of those colors gets burned onto a screen. Once registered, a set of transparent process cmyk inks is used, and each of the inks lays on top of each other and combine to simulate a full color image (when really its just the 4 primary colors on top of each other). This method is more difficult on a dark garment, but still possible. It’s also possible to add spot colors to intensify the overall look of the printed shirt. We believe that in most instances, using Direct To Garment printing in place of simulated process is always better, cheaper, faster and more efficient.
In the past, in order for a brand to have their own blank T-shirt created, a cut and sew process was necessary. Custom T-shirts require patterns, sampling, cut and sew, sizing and grating and can be very costly. Blank manufacturers saw this, and began to create their blanks with paper tear-away labels, making it simple to tear out the existing tag and screen print or sew your own tag in its place, branding it as your own while replicating a custom made blank. Although this is a very significant development, not all blanks have this tear-away tag option (mainly American Apparel, some Alternative Apparel and Bella/Canvas, most fleece sweatshirts / hoodies, and a handful of other random heavyweight shirts). In order to help with still being able to customize blanks without tear-away tags, we’ve developed some options to assist with this issue:
- When cutting out a satin label from a shirt, it leaves a tag stub (small piece of the tag that you can see going into the seam of the shirt). We can print new tags and sew them directly over this tag stub. Although tags usually go inside of the seam, we can sew the new tag on the outside of the seam, while making it still look professional. This is a great way to hide the tag stub without having to deconstruct the shirt, pull out the seam that holds the tag in, then resew the shirt up again.
- Usually tags are less than an inch wide, and another option is to seam rip the thread that holds the tag in to the shirt, remove the tag, then restitch the shirt up again. Finding a thread color that matches the shirt color might be tricky here, but this is another great way to remove permanent labels.
- We have developed a tricky way to remove permanent tags from shirts, which is slightly time consuming but an easy way to remove tags without having to deconstruct the shirt. This method is a secret by our shop, and we are always willing to show you our secret method here. 🙂