Garment Decoration Technologies

There is always a lot of debate in the industry about the various garment decoration technologies and the latest trends. Many people talk to us about the right choice for them, but as always it is never as straight forward as it might seem and there isnt always a clear cut answer.

It can often feel confusing especially as vendors think they have the right solution for you, so we have put together a quick guide on the main technologies to help you make the right decision for your business. Most of our customers have a blend of meet the needs of their customers.

Full details are here  but here is a taster

Garment Decoration Technologies

DTG

  • Constant new developments
  • Great for low volume, photographic multi colour prints
  • Generally requires medium to high investment
  • Good for online, quick turnaround market
  • Consumable cost is high for large volume work
  • But you need to understand the process especially for printing onto darks

Vinyl

  • Great for low volume personalisation
  • Mature market
  • Suitable for low production
  • I don’t like weeding
  • Low investment required to get going
  • Not so versatile
  • Only really suitable for simple artwork
  • Wash ability can be variable

Screen Printing

  • Great for high volume production
  • Very versatile
  • Low investment required to get going
  • Takes time and experience to get the best results especially multi colour complex prints
  • Very cost effective for larger runs
  • Many inks to choose from with varying opacity
  • Not great for low volume unless considering newer digital screen making technologies
  • Perceived to be messy

Embroidery

  • Very common and popular in corporate / uniform market place
  • Not suitable for all garment types or styles of artwork
  • High investment required for high volume production
  • Have to keep up with machine developments to get the most benefits (and to be competitive)

Transfer Printing (DIY)

  • New Colour Lasers with white toner opening up new possibilities
  • Suitable for low production levels
  • Great for photographic work and quick turnaround
  • Generally requires low to medium investment
  • Keep a watch on consumable costs
  • Wash ability can be variable
  • Some papers self weeding, others not so …

Transfer Print

  • Lots of choice from multiple vendors
  • Many of the transfers are screen printed giving the benefits of screen printing inks
  • Good for managing working capital
  • Becoming more popular for printers to create their own transfers
  • Requires low to medium investment

Unique Xmas Wrapping Paper and Cards

Create unique Xmas paper products
https://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/onc_images/product_image/large/1452.jpg

Create your own unique Xmas cards and paper with our Foundation Paper Club Kit. It is perfect for students and hobbyists. Designed to provide you with the basic screen printing products and consumables for paper printing at a fantastic price. The ink provided in the kit is a PermaPrint waterbased ink, a premium ink ideal for printing onto paper.

https://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/screen_printing_kits_and_packages/club_range/foundation_paper_club_kit_P1565.html

 

All about discharge inks – Updated

How can I print light designs on a dark garment – All about discharge inks.

I want to print light on dark?

I want a soft touch?

What is a discharge ink?

Here at Wicked Printing Stuff we don’t expect you to know everything and we are happy to explain things. Have you checked out our FREE buyers guide there is lots in there for the Rookie, Intermediate and Professional. Please give us a ring and explain your problem and we will help out. Lastly there are our training courses, designed again for both rookie and advanced printers with basic training or advanced courses.

So back to the problem. You want to print a light colour on a dark garment and you want it to feel soft. Now plastisol inks wrap colour AROUND the threads but gives a rubbery feel (also referred to as hand) but is bright. So ideally you want a water based ink. For those of you that have tried this and I can hear you shouting at the back, but I have tried waterbased inks and I just can’t get a good opaque print, that’s why I use plastisol. Well that’s where the discharge inks come in!

Punk rockerFor the punk rockers out there, remember how you got that bright green hair, that is right you had to bleach out your own hair colour first so the back ground colour was white, only then the colour would take and be vibrant and striking. It is almost the same in screen printing but we use discharge inks that need curing. The discharge ink actually removes the dye.

First off you have to have the right garment fabric, it has to be 100% cotton and it has to be dyed with a dischargeable dye. So check with the manufacturer. If the garment is a mixture of cotton and polyester only the cotton will discharge. Now that might actually suit you but you would need to do a trial run to make sure you get the effect you want.

Discharge processSo having got the right garment now we need the right ink. There are a lot out there and some are more complicated to use than others.

Water based dischargeable inks are the easiest and most eco friendly ones to use. The process works during curing when the discharge removes the original dye and the ink gives the new colour. To do this you add activator to the ink which ensures you get an intense colour.

 

Fuji MagnaColours

We have now introduced two Water based Discharge Ink ranges the patented MagnaPrint® Discharge ULF Ultra range of inks which are Formaldehyde Free and Soil Association Approved and Oeko tex class 1 and class 2 approved. This is the only system which does not stipulate that the garment has to be washed prior to wearing and is low odour compared to over discharge systems. The second system is Sericol TexCharge the largest ink manufacturer, TexCharge is Soil Association approved and also includes a colour matching system.

We also offer MagnaPrint Plascharge additive which you mix 50 / 50 with a plastisol ink, so if you are a plastisol printer you can take advantage of discharge technology.

For the discharge process to work, you do need a tunnel dryer (the longer the better) – typically 90-120 seconds dwell time is needed for a good cure. You can also use a heat press which is great for low production. You also need well ventilated premises and printers should read the MSDS and be aware of any health and safety consideration.
We would be delighted to talk you through this if you have any questions, please contact us.

A simple guide to heat curing

Curing your screen printed garment

When you have printed the garment you need to cure the ink otherwise when the garment goes through the wash you will notice that it fades, cracks and in some circumstances disappears altogether. There are some inks that are air dry but popular inks such as plastisol and waterbased inks need to be cured.

Curing is the actual chemical process by which the ink dries and bonds to the shirt fabric.

We are often asked ‘what is the best equipment to cure screen printing textile ink?’ The simple answer is a tunnel dryer however they can be expensive especially when starting off, so what are the options?

Important: Not all textile ink cure at the same time or temperature. Have a look at ‘The Cure’ which looks into ink curing in some detail.

Always check the documentation that comes with your ink and remember that the best test is always a wash test.

What equipment can be used?

Hair dryer

Hair Dryers – they are not hot enough, they will dry a waterbased ink but not cure it – NOT RECOMMENDED

 

 

IronIron – Don’t give an even heat and most are not hot enough to cure the ink fully. If you are printing T Shirts for your own use and are not worried about the ink gradually disappearing then an iron is an option – NOT RECOMMENDED

Heat GunHeat Guns – With a lot of patience and skill you could cure the ink but you are likely to scorch the garment so be careful. You can use a heat gun to touch dry the ink (the same job as a flash dryer) prior to printing the next colour – NOT RECOMMENDED (limited use)

 

Flash dryersFlash Dryers – normally used for touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour, it is possible to use a flash dryer to cure the ink but can be time consuming and requires management to ensure the garment does not burn. Works better for plastisol ink than waterbased ink (which requires longer cure).   LIMITED USE FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

 

 

 

Hand CurerHand Curer – can be used for both touch drying the ink between prints when printing multi colour and comes with a timer making use easier. Can also be used for ink curing as the hand curer uses quartz elements which heat immediately and cool immediately making the equipment safer and more energy efficient than a traditional flash dryer. We use hand curers for exhibitions and training sessions. RECOMMENDED FOR LOW PRODUCTION.

Heat PressHeat Presses – are fine for curing low numbers of garments, most modern presses have timers making it easier to manage. Heat Presses are used for lots of different applications such as vinyl transfer so commonly found in most T Shirt printing shops.

When using a heat press to cure screen printing inks you will need to put some grease proof paper or transfer release paper on the ink first before curing. You will need only a very light pressure and you will need to set the timer according to the ink you are using. Can be used for curing screen printing textile inks

 

Tunnel DryerTunnel Dryers – the best solution to cure large numbers of garments in a short space of time but the most expensive. They can cure potentially hundreds of garments per hour. We make them to all shapes and sizes based on the level of production and the size of garments being used.   If you are printing with waterbased inks choose the longest dryer you can afford to avoid having to put the garment through twice. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Exposing yourself!

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Making Your Artwork Positive.

Having problems getting the right exposure times?

Stencil not washing out?

Stencil too easily losing definition?

Experiencing stencil breakdown whilst printing?

There can be lots of reasons for these problems so we have compiled a simple troubleshooting guide which might help you. It won’t solve every problem but hopefully will point you in the right direction.

Problem Possible reason and remedy
Image will not washout Are you using the right level of water pressure? You can use a power hose using light to medium pressure. Normal tap pressure is not enough. If using a pressure washer, is set it to its lowest setting? 

How opaque is the film positive? Hold it up to the light. If it is letting light pass through then the emulsion will start to harden making washout difficult. Make sure your film positive printer is set to the darkest settings, you can print out 2 copies of the film positive and stick them together.   You can also use a density spray if printing Film Positives on a laser printer.

Has the emulsion gone past its shelf life? Write the date on the label when sensitising – it may save a lot of time and frustration.

Screen maybe over exposed. Check your exposure timings – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit

Make sure when drying the screen after coating that you don’t overheat it. Temperature needs to be kept below 40c.

Not all of the image washes out or washes out easily Screen likely to be under exposed other tell-tale signs include: 

If the water runoff is heavily emulsion coloured when washing out and if the emulsion feels slippery and soft.

·         Check your exposure timings – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit

Check for uneven contact between the positive film and screen when exposing. Check the vacuum is working correctly / or glass & weights are in place.

Could be uneven coating of emulsion on the screen. Check the tension of the screen – if it is loose you will not get an even coating of emulsion. Maybe time to get the screen re-stretched.

Only use light to medium water pressure – too much pressure can remove the artwork inadvertently, resist the temptation to give the artwork a blast with the power washer on anything but light setting. After initially wetting the screen on both sides, washout from the print side only with just a final rinse on the squeegee side.

Make sure that the emulsion has been sensitised correctly, the sensitizer powder must be completely dissolved – maybe consider a pre-sensitized emulsion such as Ulano Proclaim EC.

Always degrease the screen before coating with emulsion it helps the emulsion adhere to the mesh as well reducing the chance of pinholes and fish eyes

Stencil washed out but ink won’t go through part of it when printing Check your exposure timings as the screen is likely to be underexposed – you can use an exposure calculator to determine the right timings / settings for your exposure unit 

Make sure that the emulsion is thoroughly washed out as the emulsion can run into the stencil on the squeegee side blocking the artwork. Sometimes you can clean it out with a damp cloth (luck is involved – so best to get the exposure timing and washout right)

Stencil not dried properly after washing out – you can’t beat a drying cabinet (either manufacturer or homemade). Always inspect the stencil in the light to make sure no moisture remains.

Before exposing make sure that the screen is completely dry, the emulsion should be the same ambient temperature of the drying room. If the emulsion is cooler it still has some water content.

 

Fish Eyes Normally caused by contamination so make sure you have degreased your screen thoroughly and that your workspace is clean. Also check that the exposure unit glass is clean and that there is no contamination on the film positive. 

Check that the coating trough is clean, dust free and that the edge is completely clean (make sure there is no evidence of the old emulsion on the coating trough).

When coating the screen, move the trough steadily and with purpose. If you coat too fast the emulsion won’t adhere to the screen correctly. Conversely if you coat too slow and the coating may be too thick.

Fish Eyes can also occur during printing if there is an issue with the emulsion e.g. over its shelf life

Pinholes Similar to Fish Eyes – watch out for contamination on the mesh so make sure you degrease screens. 

Dirty glass on the exposure unit is often a culprit, or contaminated film positives.

Make sure that there are no air bubbles in the emulsion when coating – when sensitizing emulsion leave it at least for a couple of hours (ideally leave overnight) before using it to allow the air to escape.

Don’t coat too fast – allow the emulsion to adhere and fill the mesh aperture

 

 

Top Tip – Useful tools

Chromaline Exposure Calculator

Image result for Chromaline Exposure Calculator

Chromalie exposure calculator eliminates miscalculated exposure time with three kinds of quality checks. An easy, user friendly tool for the novice and the advanced screen maker.

Designed to help determine correct exposure time, print quality check and halftone tests.

http://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/exposing_equipment_and_digital_screen_makers/accessories_inc_bulbs_foam_and_exposure_calculator_LC241/chromaline_exposure_calculator_P2548.html

 

Maybe the best investment you make!