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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Examples of T-shirt Printing Methods

Print Methods Header

Ever wonder how a particular t-shirt printing method is performed or the reasons behind choosing a certain print method for specific designs? Here is a breakdown of apparel decoration techniques we offer and the occasions of use.

Screen Print with Under Base

Screen printing is the go-to print method for many reasons. It’s affordable and in most cases, will last the life of the apparel product. It’s most advantageous when printing a simple, single spot color design on a large amount of t-shirts. Screen printing works on all types of apparel materials including cotton and poly blends. The color is more vibrant than other print methods but it can feel heavy on the material. Adding a white under base to the design increases the layers of ink but helps to maintain the brightness of the colors.

3 Color Screen Print

Simulated Process

This is a high end printing process for complex designs that are not able to be reproduced using traditional spot color applications of ink. Usually halftones or any type of tonal design like photography-like images can be produced using simulated process printing.

Simulated Process Example

Four Color Process

This is the oldest form of decorating apparel using a similar method as an ink jet printer by blending the four process colors of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to create the full spectrum of colors. Four color process printing works best on white or light colored garments.

Four Color Process Example

Halftone Photo Print

The use of halftones is an excellent way to simulate shadow and gradients without increasing cost by using a single color instead of multiple colors. Halftones are made up of tiny dots. The bigger the dots, the more saturated the color appears. Smaller dots are used for “lighter” areas of the design. These dots blur together when viewed from a short distance to create the illusion of tones, depth, and shadow to emulate photography quality imagery.

Halftone Photo Example

Discharge Water Base Print

Discharge water base printing is desirable because of the soft feel of the print. Instead of lying on top of the fabric like plastisol inks, the discharge process actually removes the dye color of the shirt and reveals either the natural color of the cloth used to make the garment or replaces the color of the garment when mixed with another color.

Discharge Water Base Example

Digital Printing

This method of printing revolutionized the apparel printing industry by making it economical to print a single t-shirt or other garment for a customer. Instead of applying ink through the use of screens on a press, the image is transferred much like a home printer with the ink being injected directly into the fabric then cured with a heat press. It’s also a very economical choice when looking for full color photography reproduction on garments.

Digital Print Example

Full Color Digital Transfers

These are ideal for full color image reproduction that can be applied to almost any type of material including performance wear, spandex, and even nylon. It is sometimes used to replace the embroidery method if the image contains a lot of fine detail. The images are adhered with the application of heat and pressure onto the garment.

Digital Transfers Example

Glow-in-the-Dark Printing

The go to method for specialty low light graphic impact on apparel for glow runs or other night time events. Glow-in-the-dark inks must be exposed to a light source to charge the glow-in-the-dark ink. Longer exposure to light will brighten and extend the life of the glow effect.

Glow-in-the-Dark Example

High Gloss Clear Ink

Great for subtle tone on tone effects particularly on black garments or can be used as a “top coat” over spot colors for a high gloss finish.

High Gloss Example

Glitter Transfers

Glitter transfers for apparel offer high impact for any design that needs razzle dazzle and brilliance. Glitter should not be used for designs that require a lot of fine detail because the design is cut out of a solid sheet of glitter material that requires the excess to be peeled away. Color choices are limited to what is available by manufacturer.

Glitter Transfers

Metallic Ink Prints

Metallic ink printing offers an eye catching effect for custom designs on t-shirts and other apparel. Choose from shimmer and regular metallic for different looks.

Metallic Ink Example

Crystalina Prints

Crystalina ink is usually added as a second coat on top of regular plastisol ink colors to add a shimmery sparkle to the design and adds an element of texture. The color of the ink is diffused by the top coat so a bright red will be muted as seen in the example.

Crystalina Example

Puffy Prints

Puffy printing offers a retro puffed up look to any custom design on apparel. An additive is mixed in with the ink which is activated when heat is applied.

Puffy Print Example

Sugar Printing

Sugar print effects are the result of applying a wet adhesive to an apparel piece and then pressing the wet print into a bed of sugar glitter. Since the sugar glitter is on top of the design special care should be used when washing.

Sugar Print Example

Interested in trying out something other than traditional screen printing or digital printing? Contact us at the phone number above or start a chat with one of our customer representatives below.

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