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What To Consider When Screen Printing Your Workwear

by Donald Woods

Are you looking for ways to add logos or marketing messages to your workwear? Embroidery and screen printing are your primary options. However, screen printing has the edge for many reasons. For instance, it produces vibrant designs and colours, and it's quicker and versatile (because you can create multiple prints and styles on virtually all fabrics). It also produces high-quality prints. However, the technique requires making careful considerations first to enjoy these benefits. Therefore, if you have plans for workwear screenprinting, here is what you need to know first.

Pay Careful Attention to The Fabric

The fabric will make all the difference to the quality of print. First, you need to use heat-tolerant fabrics. Generally, screen printing puts your workwear through heat, essential for the ink to dry. Therefore, to keep the workwear from being damaged, choose heat-tolerant fabrics.

It's also best to use single-ply fabrics. Unlike their double-ply counterparts, single-ply fabrics remain in place when placed between the screen and the board, keeping them from being ruined during printing.

Generally, natural fabrics like cotton are perfect for screen printing because they absorb the ink more readily than their synthetic counterparts. Silk and wool are other fabrics worth considering. Silk fabrics provide a smooth surface for screen printing but perform poorly in colour absorption compared to wool or cotton. On the other hand, because of its thickness, wool absorbs colour excellently, creating vibrant prints. However, getting the ink evenly across the fabric can be challenging.

Synthetic fibres like polyester and cotton can also work with screen printing. However, they tend to be stretchy and don't usually absorb colour well.

Choose The Right Ink

Typically, there are three ink types: plastisol, water-based, and discharge inks. Plastisol ink is one of the most popular choices for screen printing because of its versatility. It's durable with slow-drying properties and can work with a wide range of screen-printing techniques. In addition, due to its thick viscosity, it allows for better coverage, ideal for dark garments. However, its thickness also means it doesn't let the skin breathe through the fabric.

Water-based inks are an alternative to their plastisol fabrics, especially if you are after a softer feel and breathability. On the downside, water-based inks have fabric limitations. For instance, if you want to print on dark garments, you need to go for cotton. In addition, the ink cures by evaporation. Therefore, you require a heat source or a dry environment to aid the curing process.

Last, discharge inks are a form of water-based inks with chemical additives. They work by removing the dye in the fabric and replacing it with your desired ink colour. This technique is ideal for dark or coloured fabrics and requires high levels of expertise. What's more, it is highly recommended for cotton fabrics only.