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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

Design A Shirt Cheap, No Minimum

It’s tough to decide which t-shirt printer to use when looking to design a shirt cheap. No minimum orders further narrow your choices since many screen printers require a minimum of 36 or more to bring the price per shirt down to something you can afford. But this makes no sense if you’re trying to buy a custom t-shirt for a small event or just as gift.

Digital printing on t-shirts makes it easy for us to offer this service at a surprisingly low cost to you. Digital printing is also known as direct to garment printing since the process works much like a printer you might use to print copies on paper.

Digitally printing personalized garments also makes it affordable to print a design that uses a lot of colors or requires intricate, fine details. Digital even makes printing photographs on t-shirts possible. This is why we see a lot of instances where someone requests a print of their cat, dog, or children. Some even request memorial t-shirts to be printed commemorating their loved ones. We’ve printed memes, original art for indie artists, band merch, funny sayings, inside jokes and pretty much anything you can think of. Digital printing makes many things possible that cannot be achieved through screen printing without incurring great costs.

here are some cons to digital printing however. Typically, a digitally printed shirt’s design will not hold up to rigors of washing like a screen printed t-shirt can. This method also requires that the t-shirt product consist of 100% cotton for the ink to adhere properly. Although we use state of the art digital printers, it’s simply something that currently cannot be avoided and we try to make that clear to customers when they place their order.

Having printed millions of custom t-shirts over the years, we know the best materials to work with and the best t-shirt printing techniques in the industry. Along with expertise we offer some of the lowest price points without sacrificing quality which happens when cheap products are used to keep costs down. Our customer’s satisfaction is extremely important to us whether you order just one t-shirt or place a bulk screen print order with us.

We know a customer that orders just one t-shirt today can just as well purchase a bulk order in the future once they experience our outstanding customer service and receive a printed product they can be proud to wear or give as a gift. Design a shirt today with confidence and put your trust in the best t-shirt printers in the industry. Get free 10-day shipping in the U.S. as a bonus! Take a look at some examples of what can be done when you're looking for a no minimum required option to design a shirt cheap!

Why Did My White Screen Printed Graphic Turn Pink?

Dye migration is also known as sublimation and if you’re printing on a red garment it can turn your white screen printed graphics *gasp* pink. In plain chemistry speak the dye from the fabric is transformed (sublimed) from solid to gas when the screen printed graphic is heat set. Typically the most troublesome fabric is a polyester blend. To dye polyester, the manufacturer must heat set at high temperatures.

To cure plastisol inks, (screen printing inks) the printed fabric is run through a conveyor gas dryer which can cause sublimation of the garments dye. To further complicate the issue, while screen printing, we use flash-curing screen presses. These are “stations” on the press that are used when printing large-scale jobs or jobs that require many layers of different colored inks to complete the graphic. Flash-curing occurs to dry separate layers of ink during the screen print. It's during these stages of screen printing, bleeding or dye migration can take place.

The sublimed gas can get sucked into the ink leading to a discoloration of the graphic. Unfortunately, the actual event of the dye molecule attaching to the ink molecule can take some time. So the garment can look great coming off the dryer and so the job gets neatly packaged and shipped to the customer without the screen printer realizing there will be a problem. Experienced screen printers are familiar with the potential for the problem and take precautions when printing in conditions where sublimation may occur.

The images below are examples of dye migration. The white ink on the red fabric is a very light pink while the white ink on the black fabric appears to be a very light green.

Examples of Dye Migration

The most obvious course of action is to control heat so sublimation of the garment dye does not take place. This is not as easy as turning the temperature down on the conveyor gas dryer. If the heat is turned down too much, the plastisol ink will not cure and the screen print will be prone to wash out. The temperature and humidity in the room and the garment itself must be taken into account along with the speed at which the garment is conveyed through the dryer along with consideration to the thickness of the ink layer(s).

Consistently adjusting for temperature, even in the middle of processing a screen printing job is critical. Our screen printers have to pay attention to the fact that the plantens (boards where the garment rests during the screen print) may heat up during the course of the job. Our screen printers also use a timer on the flash cure arm of the press. This ensures that if there are other difficulties during the print, no one garment is overheated making it prone to dye migration.

We use the highest quality, manufacturer designated low-bleed inks as well as carefully controlling temperatures, plus we only offer quality products for our customers to choose from. Low quality apparel products are more prone to dye migration simply because the manufacturers of cheap products may not go through the lengthy processes of curing the dye to the fabric. 

Screen Printing on Nano Tees and other Ring Spun Apparel

Hanes Nano brand was released to appeal to a fashion-forward audience. The ring spun cotton makes it ideal because of its soft nature and introduces a vintage feel reminiscent of a favorite old t-shirt. Many t-shirts that are 100% cotton or a cotton polyester blend can feel a little rougher on the skin. Cotton fibers are twisted together to make yarn and then woven into cloth. When creating ring spun yarn, the process is different in that as the yarn is being twisted, it is also continuously thinned. The diameter of the ring spun yarn will determine how strong and soft the final woven material will be. 

Ring spun yarn also makes the short fibers of the cotton stick out which introduces a challenge to screen printers known as fibrillation. These fuzzy fibers go mostly unnoticed until you try to lay ink down and the customer washes the product a few times.  Not enough ink and the result will be a furry look and quickly fading color vibrancy. Too much ink and the printed area will feel like a lightweight plastic badge. This is where experience and smart judgment calls come into place. 

When a customer chooses a product and finalizes the design, the artist and the screen printer must collaborate on what screen printing mesh size to use and the methodology of the actual print. A lot of technicalities have to be considered to achieve a great screen print including the mesh tension, proper calibration of the press, angle of the squeegee, and even speed of application. The mechanics can be further complicated by the number of colors required to complete the design. 

A delicate balance must be struck. Today’s custom t-shirt consumer demands what the Hanes Nano tee satisfies, a soft and stylish tee. And the best screen printers understand the complexities of printing on ring-spun materials and succeed in printing a long lasting and great looking design. 

We've retained many of our highly qualified screen printers for five or more years. The sharing of knowledge and ongoing education fosters a top notch crew that consistently produces exceptional screen printed apparel for our clients. Choosing the Nano tee does not mean trading comfort for a quality screen printed design and the color selection is impressive.

T-Shirt Printing with Plastisol Inks, Water Based Inks and Digital Print Methods

Plastisol ink is pretty much the industry standard for professional screen printing companies. The biggest advantage for using plastisol inks in a commercial operation is it does not cure without the application of heat. It does not evaporate either. The ink remains in a fluid state until it’s cured by substantial temperatures around 330 Fahrenheit. This is typically done on a piece of machinery known as a belt dryer. Another great advantage is plastisol allows for wet on wet application, permitting for multiple colors to be laid down on the textile. Plastisol inks have the distinct and highly desirable characteristics of being durable, vibrant and opaque.

Water based inks are becoming more popular due to the perception they are environmentally friendly and the feel of the ink once it’s been applied to an item of clothing. However, using water based inks requires a different skill set and often times different equipment from traditional plastisol printing. The plus side of using water based inks is the ability to print over seams and hems. This allows for an allover garment print and often compliments hand drawn styles of artwork. A huge drawback is it is very difficult to print on darker garments. This will require additional skills and additives to handle the challenge.

Both plastisol and water based screen print require a screen to be "burned" to push the ink through as seen below.

The digital printing method typically uses water based pigment inks. The advantage of using the digital printing method is producing photo like qualities that are difficult to reproduce using regular screen printing methods. The ink is laid down in multiple passes and is cured on a press. This method of printing allows affordable, durable and quality single print orders.  

5 Quick Tips For Ordering Custom T-Shirts Online

We know it can be scary to place a big order for custom t-shirts online. You may worry about choosing the right sizes, the right product, the right output process, (screen print or digital print) and the final product. We have printed millions of custom t-shirts for customers all over the U.S.A. and we have experts to guide you through every phase of the process. Here are some pro tips that will make the ordering process seamless.

1.       Start with the right product

What purpose will your custom t-shirt order serve? Are you buying jerseys for the team or mementos for a bachelorette party? Hanes is always a popular choice for quality, durability and color choices plus you can choose from a variety of styles like Cool Dri specifically designed to keep the wearer cool and protected from UV rays. Junior styles are favored by women looking for a snug, feminine fit. Is your event taking place in the summer? Tank tops and sleeveless tees provide an excellent summer-friendly choice. Different products impact the cost per unit. The weight can range from light to heavy and color choices can range from a few to all the colors under the rainbow.

2.       Choose the right sizes

Sizing can vary dramatically by product. Some product lines are designed for a certain body type in mind. An XXL in one product might fit more like a Large in another. Pay attention to specific notes in our product catalog to see if sizes run small or large. The manufacturer will often provide specific measurements for chest, waist and hips so to ensure you choose the right sizes, consider gathering measurements from your group.

3.       Screen Printing VS. Digital Printing

The best method of printing depends on many factors. Cost per unit typically has a big influence on the choice. Screen printing is by far the less expensive method but does require a minimum order of six shirts. With screen printing, oftentimes the colors can be more vibrant, the ink will be thicker and more durable plus specialty inks can be used such as glitter and neon. Digital printing is the default choice for small and highly detailed orders. Digital printing is quite similar to printing from an office printer. This is best if your art is intricate and requires diverse colors. An example of screen printed and digitally printed art can be seen here.

4.       The Design

You can choose to personalize one of our pre-made design templates with your organization or event name and colors or you can upload your own custom artwork in our design studio. You can even design a hybrid. The most important thing when using your own custom artwork is the quality of the uploaded art. The old saying goes garbage in, garbage out. While our in-house graphic artists examine every order set to go to print, high resolution artwork will ensure a clean print. Carefully examine your proof before signing off on the print. We make every effort to print exactly what the proof reflects. If you still have concerns we can provide a sample print to ensure your total satisfaction.

5.       Art to Product Size Ratio

One last tip when ordering custom t-shirts online is to think about the design size to product size ratio. If we receive an order with a range of different sizes, we will scale the design to fit the smallest shirt size and use the same screen to print the rest of the order. This may have a prominent impact if your sizes range from youth extra small to XXXL. If this is concerning, you may order two sizes of art for an extra charge to maintain and approximate ratio across sizes. If your design is on the small size initially, this extra step may not be needed at all.