Screen Printing: Plastic Feeling or Soft?

A screen printer’s t shirt printed with ink containing plastics can be hot and sticky if you do not know what to ask for when ordering. If you are looking for a softer, vintage-feeling screen printed shirt, you may want to ask for water based inks. If you need a heavy laid print, you may ask for ink containing plastics applied with a hot press. Many screen printers use inks containing plastics because they are not as hard on the screen printing equipment, they are sometimes more durable, can be brighter, heavier and more visible. But, if you want your t shirt to look old and worn, you will most likely be happier with a water based ink product. Plastic inks laid with a hot press are not very breathable and create a lot of heat against your body. They do not stretch with fabrics and can crack if exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Water based inks are well absorbed by almost every kind of fabric. Keep in mind that water based ink does not show up as well on darker fabrics. This is especially true on black and navy blue garments. Water based ink screen prints are preferred on items that have more texture, such as golf towels, hats and pique polo shirts. They can be ironed without running the risk of melting. They can hold up through stretching, washing and ironing as well as the garment that they are printed on. There are some circumstances where you may prefer inks containing plastics. Sports jerseys are one example. The complete coverage that you get with inks containing plastic is usually preferred for the extreme visibility that is needed on sports jerseys. Some companies prefer plastic inks on waterproof items, such as umbrellas, raincoats and ponchos. There is still another reason that you may prefer screen printing inks containing plastics. Fading is of more concern with water based inks. If you want a shirt to look worn or vintage, then definitely go with water based ink. If you want a vibrant color or more durable print, you can still get soft, breathable results from inks containing plastics if a hot press is not used. Hot press is used to give a heavy plastic feel, such as on a jersey. If a hot press is not used, the result is almost the same as with water based inks. Because most garments come out more durable, most screen print shops use inks containing plastics and no hot press. The main thing to consider when you are ordering screen print t shirts, polos or other custom clothing is the quality of the print. Ask to see examples of a screen printer’s work before you order. Most screen printers will have samples of their work on their web site. Find a printer that offers a wide variety of custom clothing and apparel. This way, if you later decide to expand distribution of your logo, you can order different screen print items knowing the quality that you are getting. Some screen printers offer custom clothing from major name brands, such as Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Adidas. Getting high quality products and high quality screen printing in one place can save you a lot of hassle and wasted money.
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