In the printing industry, there are three main families. Screen printing, heat transfers and DTG (Direct to garment). In this post we will cover screen printing techniques and heat transfers.
Screen printing, it’s the process of deposit an ink directly on the garment through a screen printing screen. In the industry, we got three main inks ; water based inks, plastisol inks and discharge ink. The plastisol inks are great inks to print on cotton, polyester, 50/50 and tri-blends garments. Each garment must be printed with different plastisol ink. Some plastisol ink cures at 320 degres Fahrenheit, those ones are used for printing on 100% cotton. Others are called Low Bleed Plastisol ink, those ones are perfect to print on polyester, 50/50 and triblends. The Low Bleed formula is made to cure a garment at a lower temperature to prevent dye migration.
Then we have the water based inks. Those inks are difficult to work with for beginners because they dry quickly on the screen and are difficult to cure. Water based inks are made for 100% cotton garments, because the inks is pushed through the garment and not on top of the garment like plastisol. Water based inks are not as opaque, but they create a no-feel touch. They are perfect to print on light color shirts, but can be printed on dark garment. We printed a lot of 50/50 hoodies and crewnecks with WB inks and they came out great. The cure time for water based inks should be around 3 min at 320 degres.. The first min of curing is to evaporate the water and the rest is to cure the ink.
Heat press are suitable for small jobs runs or unique designs. Heat pressed designs can last as long as screen printed, but production cost might be higher. Vinyl transfers are great for brands that are selling their merch. Vinyl transfers create a high quality and uniform finish to the print.