Screen printed apparel are the highest quality products you can offer your customers. You will create durable products that last wash after wash.
If you can imagine it, chances are we can do it. With a vast and growing variety of apparel stock and accessories available, you’re sure to find the right colors, fabrics and sizes to develop your products. And with the ability to print up to 14 colors per design, plus a wide range of effects, your designs will be recreated by our separation process with stunning clarity and resolution.
Add high-end effects and embellishments to further customize your screen printed apparel.
Screen Printing Techniques
Spot Color Printing
Spot color images generally have specific solid colors. Most designs are achieved using this method. Large blocks of color or very fine line work and text can be printed with great detail.
Inks are mixed by weight, using the textile ink version of the universal Pantone ink matching system.
Our Spot Color inks are very vivid and opaque, so they will print well on both light and dark colors (Dark 100% Polyester fabrics will require a special low-bleed white under base).
Halftone is the graphic technique that simulates shading through the use of dots. Halftone prints are commonly used in newspapers to blend colors, and in screen printing it’s a similar process. We use this technique to print photographic or otherwise multi-tonal artwork using only one ink color, which can often significantly reduce order costs.
Spot Color with Halftones
This process is essentially the same as the Spot Color technique but includes halftone dots of ink as well as solid areas. This makes a single color of ink appear as two or more shades of that color. These halftone dots can also be printed over other colors in your design to create more shading effects. This is great for achieving the effect of having more colors than you actually do. So you can get an interesting looking print without needing a lot of colors.
This method has many advantages over CMYK 4 Color Process Printing, in that you get the exact mixed shades of color that you’re expecting, rather than hoping that CMYK produces the correct Pantone color in your logo or design. It also means reruns will turn out just the same as the first order, where this is sometimes difficult to guarantee with CMYK.
CMYK 4 Color Process
This process is used when the image is too colorful to be printed using the Spot Color with Halftones method.
Four-color process images are composed of the colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black, referred to as CMYK. When printed correctly, CMYK inks absorb some wavelengths of light and reflect others. This is known as subtractive color theory. An apple appears red because green and blue light are absorbed (or subtracted) from the reflected light received by your eyes. If you use a magnifier to view a printed CMYK image, you will see small halftone dots that, when printed, make up the colors we see. Four-color process on garments is used to reproduce images that have a palette of colors well beyond the limits of the press. It is effective in reproducing paintings or photographs, and can be used for images that contain a broad range of colors.
Process color prints on t-shirts work well on light colored shirts, but can be difficult when printing on dark shirts due to the transparency of the inks; a white under base must be printed first when printing onto colored garments. To master four-color process printing, a good set of color separations is needed, as well as excellent screen-making and printing techniques. Process stability is paramount when printing four-color process. To broaden the finished effect, many four-color process prints have additional spot colors that expand the color gamut.
Simulated process color images have a photorealistic look, but are not printed with the process colors of CMYK, which makes this technique work well for dark shirts. The color separations for simulated process color are made up of halftone images of spot colors like red, yellow, blue, etc. Because the inks for simulated process color are generally all-purpose, plastisol, they deliver a bright print. When done correctly, simulated process prints can produce strongly-photorealistic images with smooth gradations and bright colors. It is one of the most popular methods used by today’s award-winning printers.
We use simulated process separation (printing), commonly referred to as “sim process”, on the most complex and/or photorealistic designs. Pantone ink colors using varying halftone percentages are layered to simulate additional ink colors. Blending is enhanced by using wet-on-wet print techniques.
This print style can be used on either light or dark shirts. Ink color counts can be as low as 2, but most often fall in the 8-12 color range.
This technique is probably the most confusing of the separation methods. For the Color Process methods, shading in the image is achieved by using different sized halftone dots that have a specific pattern and angle to them. This pattern and angle is known as amplitude modulation (AM) screening. Index color separations are created in Adobe Photoshop, and use random square dots that are all the same size. These random dot patterns also are called diffusion dither, stochastic or Frequency Modulation (FM) screening and use uniform dot sizes with varied distance between them. This method is different from conventional AM halftone screening, which aligns dots of varying sizes on a regular grid.
Index printing works on light and dark shirts and typically requires more colors than simulated or four-color process (especially if printing on black shirts). Images are very easy to print because all the dots are the same size and are printed side by side rather than on top of one another, as with other techniques.
Separations are somewhat easy to do in Adobe Photoshop and printing can be more forgiving. The downside to index prints is that for the image to be photorealistic, you need at least 6 colors and in some cases, 8 to 10 colors.
Index prints can sometimes have a grainy, textured look to them, but when printed with several colors, they also can be very attractive.
Natural Discharge is the softest Ink option for black & dark Garments. This printing special effect is simplistic, yet highly artistic. By printing discharge agents on to 100% cotton garments and adding heat, a chemical reaction is used to create an off-white or natural color. The active chemical is called Perolite. The chemical essentially acts like a bleach agent. And has traces of Formaldehyde. The result is a graphic area that is entirely void of any ink left on the garment (we call this ‘color discharge’ because regular discharge will normally produce a khaki or natural color- usually the color of the cotton before it was dyed). Discharge can be applied as raw discharge or tinted discharge. Raw discharge will give a dark-colored shirt a bleached look, and tinted discharge results in a more muted tone of the ink color that is used.
Due to the nature of this process, some variation in the color of your final print should be expected by you or your client. Some colors react to this process better than others. The result is a very soft to the touch with the ability to print large designs without weighing down the garment.
Soft Vibrant (hybrid print)
This process allows you to print bright colors on light or dark garments without losing the soft, natural feel of the fabric or sacrificing style or comfort.
By default we use a special hybrid ink that allows us to print extremely soft yet bright colored prints at a very affordable price. We utilize a range of soft hand plastisol, water base inks, pigments & discharge agents that actually stain the garment, instead of sitting on top of the fabric. The result is a print that is almost as soft as the garment itself! 100% Cotton garments are required for this ink type, as a chemical reaction is used to remove the dye from the shirt where traditional inks would normally print a white under-basing. Due to the nature of this process, some variation in the color of your final print should be expected by you or your client.
Some benefits of Soft Vibrant printing are:
• Soft-to-the-hand feel with vibrant results
• Competitive option to water-based inks
• High-end & fashion forward
• More ecological than standard Inks
• Great when printing over seams and off garment
• Washing is recommended before wearing
Metallic Foil Transfers
Add shine to your design with colored foil transfers! Utilize one of our eye-catching foil colors to create a polished, mirror-like finish that will reflect light and make your graphic radiate like the sun. The result is a finish that is sure to make you break out your shades to keep the glare out of your eyes.
In this process, we screen print your image using glue instead of ink. Then we lay sheets of textile foil over the glue and heat press it. When peeled away, the foil sticks to the glued areas and hey presto.
While this process isn’t as durable as a standard screen print, it’s still a popular technique that is sure to add a special touch to the finished product.
Screen Print Inks
Plastisol inks often the most economic and highest quality ink choice for the widest variety of screen-printed apparel.
Formulated to achieve color-matching accuracy, plastisol inks are the most commonly used inks for screen-printed apparel. They are made of PVC with an oil base for flow and viscosity, and must be heat set to fully cure.
Plastisol can print very fine halftone line counts and line weights. This ink provides the best color reproduction on light and dark materials. It provides the best fiber lock down and color fastness. We use a Phthalate free plastisol that exceeds CPSIA Standards.
High Opacity Plastisol Inks
Formulated to achieve superior opacity and color matching accuracy, High Opacity ink is used anytime you want to print the ink without an under base. There are two ways of achieving this: You can use what is called a hit/flash/hit or use the putty job (double hit).
Soft Hand Plastisol Inks
An alternative to traditional plastisol inks, soft hand plastisol inks will not cover up the soft and natural feel of your garment. Soft hand base is mixed with standard plastisol inks to achieve a softer feel to the final print. It is great for those looking for a texture more like water based ink, especially when printed through a finer mesh screen. It is commonly used by screen printers producing high fashion garments, and anyone looking to get a less plastic-y feel to their plastisol prints.
Like standard plastisol, it can print very fine line counts and detail, plus it has good color capabilities. It does not lock garment fibers down and the print will appear “lighter” after washing. Note that this ink is transparent and must be used with a discharge mask on dark garments.
Soft Vintage Inks
Soft Vintage inks are a low impact, soft-feel option use to create a “vintage” style print. This inks let you achieve a “vintage” style print without having to alter your image with filters. This process allows a percentage of your apparel color to show through the inks, creating that perfect worn out look.
Some pros and cons of Soft Vintage inks are:
• Soft-to-the-hand feel with varied results
• Recommended when printing over seams and off garment
• PMS color matching NOT available
Go Green! Print with the lowest environmental impact and get soft, natural results.
The best choice for the environment, water-based inks produce ultra soft prints and are the most eco-friendly inks available. Water-based inks are used by organizations with a desire to maintain a green profile and fashion-oriented companies looking for a soft-to-the-hand feel. With the consistency of water and a translucent base, designing for these inks should be reserved for minimal detail and color printed on an organic fabric.
Water based inks generally consists of a two-part system using a mix of a base and pigments. The resulting soft hand is achieved without plastic and resins, making it more safe and compliant for our Earth and Environment.
Water-based inks are used to give a design a soft-hand feel and an almost no-hand feel after washing. The result is a design that looks and feels like it is almost part of the fibers of the shirt as opposed to a sitting more on the surface of the surface of the fabric, like with plastosol printing.
Special Effect Inks
Fluorescent inks add that extra punch to your design and have been making a resurgence the last few years.
They can also be used to add high visibility elements to Work Wear. We stock Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent “Inferno” Orange, Fluorescent “Flame” Orange, Fluorescent Green, Fluorescent Purple & Fluorescent Blue (although Fluorescent Blue is part of the ink range, it doesn’t have the same intensity as the other colors).
Put the spotlight on your designs with Glow-in-the-Dark Ink! Special chemicals, called phosphors, are mixed into the ink causing it to absorb energy and re-emit it as visible light. Because of the nature of this ink, the final print will have a slight green cast.
These inks are best when used on white or light-colored fabrics or as an overprint with white or light-colored inks. This special effects ink can be used over one specific area or all over your image. (Pantone matching is unavailable).
Glow ink comes in a variety of colors, including yellow, orange, red, sky blue, aqua, violet and white. It’s transparent, but not completely, so it shows up very faintly in daylight.
Note: On dark colored tees it needs an opaque white base to work, so if you’re using glow ink on a dark tee be aware that the glow part of the design will appear white in daylight.
Black Light Inks
Like regular glow in the dark inks, blacklight inks absorb energy and re-emits it as visible light. Unlike ordinary glow-in-the-dark paints, however, the glowing effect is only visible under ultraviolet lights (Black Light).
Invisible black light is a clear color that only appears under Black Light conditions. Add a hidden image or slogan over a simple white impression that when viewed under black light conditions will flouresce, giving your design an added punch.
There are 6 invisible Black Light colors available: Inv Blue, Inv Green, Inv Yellow, Inv Violet, Inv Orange and Inv Bright White. The image below illustrate the difference between a design viewed under normal conditions (left) and when using black light (right).
Go for the Gold! Metallic inks are used to simulate a metal appearance. These inks are similar to foil, but without the reflective sheen. Metallic inks have tiny metal flakes added to them, giving a truly metallic look. They don’t offer the same bling as foil, but they have better durability as they are an ink as opposed to a glued on process.
We stock Metallic Gold, Metallic Silver & Metallic Black. These colors can also be tinted, so Gold can be tinted into Copper. Silver can be tinted with any color, although the more color added the less metallic they become, so lighter shades work best.
Crystalina Glitter Ink
Make it Shine! Crystalina is an ink consisting of glitter floating in a clear base. Its used as an overprint on top of other colors for an interesting sparkly (sugary) effect. The glitter tends to be predominantly yellow in tone, so it works best over yellow, orange & red.
Give your design a little sparkle. Glitter describes an assortment of very small, flat, and reflective particles. When these particles are applied to surfaces, they each reflect light in different angles causing the surface to sparkle or glitter. Glitter is similar to, but smaller than confetti or sequins. Glitter Inks are made of multicolor metallic flakes suspended in a clear Plastisol base and can be applied to your entire image or just one area.
The primary function of Glitter is to add decorative value to an otherwise basic and dull design. Glitters glamorizes your products and makes them stand out thereby, increasing sales.
Glitter ink is like shimmer ink, but features thick glitter flakes instead of tiny metallic sparkles. It’s available in a range of basic colors.
Note: Works best in larger areas with no fine detail. Glitter ink is also a little transparent, so if you layer glitter ink over other inks, the colors underneath will peek through.
Shimmer Inks are made with tiny metallic flakes suspended in a clear Plastisol base. It is sparkly, metallic ink that is available in black, silver, bronze and gold.
Note: Works best in larger areas with no fine detail.
Stay puffed! Evoke 80’s nostalgia or create a throwback look to your raglan or trucker cap with Puff Inks. Puff Inks are a great economic alternative to High Density or Super Gel Inks, but have a much softer marshmallow-like quality. This effect is created by adding a puff additive to standard Plastisol Inks, which makes them rise like a freshly baked loaf of bread.
The Puffing process tends to change the ink color, making it a slightly lighter shade after puffing occurs, so perfect color matching is difficult.
Note: Best used on round shapes and lines. Hard edges and angles are softened and can be lost when used with puff ink, and it is not suited for large areas of ink, since it will be very heavy on the tee.
Make it Suede! Suede ink is a raised ink with a fuzzy texture. The line work must be at least 1/8” to 1/4” to appear fuzzy. Like puff and high density ink, suede ink does not work well in large solid areas.
High Density Inks
Take your design to new heights with our High Density Inks! High Density is a process that adds texture and depth to a graphic. Plastisol ink is printed through a special screen that corrals the ink within a limited area creating a print that rises up to 1/8 inch above the fabric’s surface. This results in an opaque, durable, three-dimensional print that adds texture & depth to your graphic.
High Density Inks are available in any color in the Pantone Matching System solid color guides. This effect is limited to one ink per garment and cannot be combined with Hybrid, Foil or Discharge Ink due to the heat required to achieve each of these processes. High Density Inks cannot be used for halftone images or graphics with fine detail. They work best with solid, bold graphic areas such as text or symbols.
Note: Works best for shapes and lines with hard edges and angles.
Super Gel Inks
Get the wet look with our Super Gel Inks! Similar to High Density Inks, but with softer, rounded edges, Gel inks can be printed to add a glossy shine to any graphic. Super Gel Inks are transparent and typically used as an over print of another color or multiple colors to give the ink a gel or wet look.
This ink is best used to simulate liquid or accent an area of your design. While generally printed clear, Super Gels can also be tinted in a variety of colors. It is also available as a high-density gel for an even thicker appearance and rubbery feel.
Note: Makes apparel heavier and stiffer where gel is placed.
Any and all of the above can be used with special printing techniques to provide an endless combination of special effect prints. Designs that utilize special effects require additional time and labor, so extra artwork charges may apply.
Decorated apparel designs are pushing the limits of available technologies and printing techniques. It’s clear that creativity and consumers’ desires for customized designs are driving garment decoration today.
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