SCREEN PRINTING PRINT HINTS

Useful Information About Pre-Production and Printing You Should Know Before Going to Press

Inside Size Tags

Screen Printed Inside Tag

This issue is compounded when trying to print a separate image on the opposite side of the care label on the back of the garment. These graphics can conflict and show thru on each other, making it difficult to read either of them. Keep this in mind when organizing the placement of artwork.

When printing inside care labels on a garment, sometimes the image that is being printed can show thru the garment onto the back of the garment (this is more common with lighter colored garments). We take all precautions necessary to make sure this doesn't happen however, this is sometimes it’s inevitable especially on lightweight fabrics. A dense image that uses more ink when printed has a higher chance of showing through. This is why we suggest using simplified artwork that uses as little ink as possible.

Garment De-Tagging

While most blank apparel manufacturers have multiple styles with tear-away paper tags that allow you to print inside care labels, there are still some manufacturers that choose to prioritize their own branding by using satin or other woven labels unless you're willing to pay and meet the minimums for white labeling services (a service that some manufacturers offer in which they label their blank apparel with your custom tags). If you are unable to meet the minimum order requirements for this service or the blank apparel company you choose to source your apparel from doesn't offer white labeling, there are some other options;

Cut out woven tag
  • We can cut satin or other woven labels out using scissors, however this often leaves remnants of that woven label in its place along the neck taping. If the label is the same color as the apparel, this usually isn't very noticeable. If the tag is a contrasting color, the remnants will be more visible and can only be covered by sewing new woven labels directly over that spot. While effective, this method may not be as professional as some might prefer.
  • Another option is to take your blank apparel to a finishing house where they can rip the seam of the neck taping, remove the sewn tag and replace it with your own woven label or care tag. Unfortunately, we don't have the specific sewing machines necessary to do this in-house.
  • There are times when tags are sewn in a way that allows us to remove them completely using a method we've developed. If this is an option, we will be happy to make that available to you.

"Jumbo" Printing

A standard size screen will allow for a graphic up to 15" wide by 17" tall. This size is large enough to cover the front or back of most standard t-shirt sizes. If you require your graphic to be printed larger than this, there are various "jumbo" sizing options. We can usually print as large as the garment being printed will allow but keep in mind the print area must lay completely flat and the printed graphic should not go over any seams, hems, pockets, etc. Also, jumbo prints require larger than normal pallets to load the garment on. Keep in mind that we will only be able to print as large as the smallest garment in your order will allow. For example, if you are looking to have an oversized graphic printed on t-shirts but are including x-small sizes, we will only be able to print as large as those shirts will allow across the full run of t-shirts. We also suggest that you design your graphics based on how they will look when worn as opposed to a flat t-shirt or garment.

"All-Over" Printing

All-Over Screen Print

The proper way to achieve an all-over print would be to print on the fabric panels or rolls prior to cutting and sewing the garment together. Printing all-over a constructed garment can present a number of challenges and complications. While it is entirely possible to print all-over a constructed garment, this requires specialized machinery to do well and it is rare for many print shops to have access to. To print all-over a constructed garment like a t-shirt on a regular screen-printing press is a very difficult and inconsistent as the garment is not able to lay completely flat or be held in place particularly well. Printing over seams, pleats, pockets, etc. will produce inconsistencies in the print due to the accumulation of ink in the gaps created by the uneven surfaces. Although we will always be up front about this before taking on a job, we are not responsible for any of these inconsistencies that will happen due to this nature of screen printing in this manner. Our screen-printing presses can currently print a maximum of 28" wide by 42" long. This may not completely cover your entire garment end to end. We suggest designing with this in mind and creating a graphic that has feathered edges.

Printing Over Seams

 Inconsistencies

Screen printing requires the item being printed to be as flat as possible in order to apply an even layer of ink. Even the smallest interruption in that flat surface (like a loose thread underneath the surface) can create imperfections in the print. It is for this reason that we adamantly suggest AGAINST printing over any surfaces that do not lay completely flat. Uneven surfaces will either cause the squeegee to skip over a part of the surface leaving gaps in the print or will allow for ink to gather leaving thicker layers of ink each time and caking which usually complicates issues further and causes smearing. There are times where we are able to limit the amount of imperfections shown, depending on the thickness and type of ink used when printing over seams, but inconsistencies in the print are almost guaranteed. The amount of time required to print this way is also much longer resulting in higher production costs. We will always be up front with all potential inconsistencies before going to press, but we cannot be held responsible for these imperfections when printing over any uneven areas.

Foil Printing

While screen printing and DTG are both permanent decorations, foil printing is the least permanent decoration that we can use. Although we take every possible precaution to permanently bind the foil to the garment, it largely requires proper care and maintenance in order to keep it looking like new. If not cared for properly, foil has tendency to tarnish after washing and possibly flake off after even one incorrect wash. 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, small accents and designs with primarily negative space.

Discharge Ink Printing

Discharge ink is a heat-reactive ink that "bleaches" out the existing dye on the garment and replaces it with the color dye we've printed with as it reaches a high temperature in our dryer. Discharge printing has become an amazing way to print on dark-colored garments and keep a soft feel to the garment.

Discharge ink print before and after curing.

Although this is an amazing advancement, there are still some drawbacks to this type of printing. Mainly, not all fabrics discharge equally as the type of dye used will vary between fabrics, fabric blends, colors and where they are manufactured. Because of this, discharge ink will have a different chemical reaction depending on those factors which will vary the result. For this reason, we cannot guarantee any sort of Pantone color matching.

Some specific fabric dyes will not discharge evenly or at all, we've noticed that these colors generally include bright greens, reds and blues. We usually recommend a dark-colored cotton garment for this type of printing. Discharge ink will also leave a slight crusty feel on top of the ink after these shirts are printed, due to the way the ink reacts to the heat in the curing process. This will usually soften significantly after the first wash and more after each additional wash, leaving the shirts feeling like only the fabric itself. You can see examples of discharge printing here.

Screen 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 piqué 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.

Ribbed Garments

As is the case when printing over seams, hems, or pockets, a ribbed garment does not lay completely flat. The ribs in the fabric will create high and low spots or channels along the print. In some instances, a ribbed garment will look perfectly printed until it is worn and the ribbing is stretched creating a sort of accordion effect on the print itself. Something with more separation between the ribbing like corduroy will allow ink to fill the channels between the ribs leaving a stiff, rubbery print due to the extra ink. Printing on ribbed or overly textured garments like this is not recommended.

Synthetic Blends

Blended fabrics that include synthetic materials like rayon, polyester, lycra, etc have become very popular with the rise in popularity of the "athleisure" aesthetic. These synthetic materials are usually inorganic variations of plastic fibers which make them much more sensitive the the high heat required to cure regular screen printing ink. Due to the heat-sensitive properties of these materials, special considerations need to be taken when printing. Certain additives may need to be mixed into the ink to help it cure at a lower temperature or increase its ability to stretch with the garment. On thinner fabric, we may suggest a lighter print in an attempt to reduce the amount of stiffness a regular plastisol ink print might cause or a more water-based ink option. For this reason, we suggest designing a smaller, less ink-heavy type of graphic or something vintage-inspired for these types of garments.

Dye Migration

As mentioned above, synthetic fabric blends contain different types of plastic fibers. These fibers can react to the high heat necessary to cure screen printing ink in a way that turns the colorants and dyes used in these fabrics into a gas. That gas can then permeate the ink, tinting it a similar color to the fabric itself. This is most noticeable when printing with bright white ink. For example, when printing white ink on black, if the material gets too hot the print may end up looking gray. With all that being said, we will do our best to mitigate the risk of this as much as possible by mixing additives into the ink that help reduce the amount of heat necessary to cure or adding a base layer that helps block this reaction. There are times, however, where there is a delayed reaction and we may not see the effects of dye migration until days later.

In some instances, dyed cotton garments may not be properly set and may contribute to dye migration as well. The example below shows a DTG print on a white garment and a dyed garment. As you can see, the dye has migrated into the ink to tint all white ink to be pink.

Dye Migration on DTG Print

Moiré Patterns

Moire patterns from halftoning.

Screen printing cannot recreate blended colors or gradients without converting individual colors into layered halftone dots. Multiple colored dots next to each other will trick your eye into seeing the color you would get if you mixed those colors together. A moiré pattern happens with the angle of those overlaid dots is too similar and creates a sort of patterned distortion. This usually happens when a low resolution graphic already has halftoning and the blurred or pixelated edges are then further halftoned when printing films/burning screens. While we will always do our best to avoid or minimize this effect, we will let you know if there is a risk of this happening prior to moving forward with your project.