CMYK Explained

What is CMYK?

How do you do this in screen printing?

Is it the same as 4 colour printing?

Think back to school when you were painting and used blue and yellow to get green, that is the theory of the whole process. It is used all over the place and you will see the little symbol on things you use every day!

I don’t want you to rely on pictures too much because your screen or printer will subtly alter these colours. But have a look at this picture from Wiki to get an idea, yes basically it is just like school blue, red and yellow.

Now these colours can be combined to get all the rest of the spectrum

Now as you no doubt remember from school, combining them does give a murky black which is no good for our purposes which is why we have to have black. Saves ink as well.

So that is the inks but how does it work. Well you put the 4 colours onto the substrate (thing you are printing on) in dots and when the dots are on top of each other you get the various colours and your picture.

Now remember the way screen printing works, the ink is pushed through the mesh in dots! The finer the mesh the closer together the dots are so you can’t see the background colour.

Basically your brain has the illusion into thinking you see a solid colour when in fact what you see is lots of dots. All screen printing works on that principle.

The ink is normally applied in that colour order Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black although that can vary with some printers.

There is actually a principle behind the process called “subtractive”. Because you are printing on white, you are subtracting, with the inks, the amount of white(brightness) your eye sees. Now if you don’t fill in all the dots you get to see more white and that gives you paler colours, which can also be mixed and matched to get the full range. This bit is called “half tones”.

Honestly the principle is as simple as that, any water colour artist would see it immediately although they may not know what it is called.

So that is the theory, 4 inks printed in dots, here is an early example from 1902

Now how do you do this?

You have to separate your final image artwork into its CMYK elements.

If you check Photoshop all the colours show what percentage of these colours comprise the colour you see.

Photoshop automatically separates the CMYK colors into channels. Just open the channels palette and select “split channels” from the palettes flyout panel options. You will get four grayscale files, one for each channel. So you need 4 screens that have the required separate colours which when combined will give your final picture.
Be aware, however, that this is NOT how you separate artwork for screen printing. If you are printing the job as a 4 color process on white shirts, all you want are printouts of the separate channels, just print the file as “separations” with a course line screen (35 to 55 lpi) and the following angles – C: 55 degrees, M: 22 degrees, Y: 5 degrees, K: 80 degrees. Not doing this right gives you the Moire effect (it looks blurred). Other angles can be used for example.

There are literally nearly 80,000 videos on the internet describing exactly how to do this and I suggest you watch a few, several times until you feel completely confident you understand the process.

In order for all this to work you need a very high mesh count so you get lots of dots which give your brain the illusion correctly. We have kits with all you need to try this, have a look at http://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/inks_and_additives/plastisol_ink_and_additives/union_inks/trutone_range/wps_uniontrutone_process_printing_pack_P1145.html

The Trutone Process Printing Pack Contents are ;-

  • 4 x Aluminium Screens 16 x 20inches 120T
  • 4 x Wooden Squeegees with a Hard Square Cut Blade
  • 1 x PRPL-2080 Process Yellow 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-3082 Process Magenta 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-5080 Process Cyan 250ml
  • 1 x PRPL-8080 Process Black 250ml

This pack contains all of the essentials you need to try out the fantastic Trutone process inks at an affordable price. As ever we are completely happy to give you the benefit of our 30 years of experience so please contact us with any questions.

Here is an example of a finished product, the screens were produced using the Riso QS200.

20140909_112710

Direct to Garment

aDirect To Garment technology

What is DTG?

Direct to Garment

DTG (Direct To Garment) is an exciting new technology in the garment decoration business. Very similar to an ink jet printer the garment is printed directly using specialist inks. There is a lot of development going on in this area.

Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing, and inkjet to garment printing, is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. The two key requirements of a DTG printer are a transport mechanism for the garment and specialty inks (inkjet textile inks) that are applied to the textile directly and are absorbed by the fibres.

A primary advantage of DTG printing is the lack of set-up costs and instant turnaround time not associated with traditional garment printing methods such as screen printing. The comparative disadvantage of DTG is equipment maintenance and ink cost. Ink technology developments have significantly improved ink performance and lowered ink cost. Digital printing technologies are non-contact, meaning that media is printed on without hand contact, allowing for a more precise image. This prevents the image distortion that takes place in screen printing” from Wiki

There are several things you should bear in mind if you decide to invest in this area but one we can help you with is the need for a higher spec dryer at a very competitive price. This is because we manufacture our dryers ourselves so you are buying direct from the manufacturer.

The Panther 700L Texitunnel is based on the 700 dryer but with heating elements 50% longer making it about 60% faster than the 700 when in normal use :-

700L compact

Highly efficient t-shirt dryer suitable for any medium size t-shirt printing company using Plastisol and waterbased printing inks.    Good for t-shirts, sweatshirts, working clothes, umbrellas and many more substrates. Ideal tunnel dryer for digital printers including popular DTG printers such as Resolute, Viper DTG, Anajet and Brother

  • Suitable for curing (plastisol inks)  up to 700 garments per hour
  • Suitable for curing air drying waterbased inks up to 700 garments per hour
  • Suitable for curing Digitally printers waterbased inks 100 (dark garments per hour, with heavy white) and 120 (light garments)
  • For heat cured water based inks 100 – 150 garments per hour

Option of a hot air circulation unit

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!

For 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 Inks

So 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.

At Wicked Printing Stuff we have researched the products extensively and as a consequence we recommend the following ink Unico  The ink has been developed to meet the most recent ecological requirements. We also supply the Rutland Best of Brands discharge ink which works with both the Unico and the Union activator. Additionally we offer Union plasticharge which is a great way of using existing plastisol inks you may have and turning them into a discharge ink.

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.

Garment Decoration

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