There are different methods of custom printing being used in the market. But today in this article we are going to discuss those that we are using for custom t shirt printing in Dallas.
Serigraphy or silk-screening is a printing process in which the ink is leaked – by pressing a squeegee or puller – through a prepared screen. The screen (screen printing matrix), normally made of polyester or nylon, is stretched on a frame (frame) made of wood, aluminum or steel.
The “recording” of the screen takes place through the process of photosensitivity, where the matrix prepared with a photosensitive emulsion is placed on a photolithography, and this set matrix+photolithography is placed on a light table.
The dark spots on the photolith correspond to the places that will be leaked on the screen, allowing the ink to pass through the weave of the fabric, and the light spots (where the light will pass through the photolith reaching the emulsion) are waterproofed by the hardening of the photosensitive emulsion that was exposed the light.
It is used for printing on various types of materials (paper, plastic, rubber, wood, glass, fabric, etc.), surfaces (cylindrical, spherical, irregular, light, dark, opaque, shiny, etc.), thicknesses or sizes, with different types of inks or colors. It can be done mechanically (by people) or automatically (by machines).
Direct Digital Stamping (DTG)
Have you ever imagined putting a shirt on your home printer and printing a print directly on it? Roughly speaking, this is what DTG stamping consists of.
Direct digital printing (also known as DTG) eliminates the need to manufacture dies or cylinders, in addition to enabling small-scale production. However, due to the high cost of ink and machinery, digital printing costs an average of 3 times more than other traditional methods of printing.
Another great differential of digital printing is the high resolution of these fabric printers. It is possible to print even HD photos through this technique.
In the following video you can see a Brother DTG printer directly printing different types of products such as caps, shoes, clothes, etc.
After watching printing with digital stamping, see how the traditional method (screen printing) works:
Also read our article on Direct Digital Stamping, where we discuss this printing technology on clothing in greater detail.
The biggest wave of the moment is certainly sublimation. It’s amazing how the use of this technique has grown in recent years, and is growing every day.
I believe this is mainly due to the fact that sublimation is cheap and easy to perform . With less than R$ 5000.00 of initial investment and 1 week of training anyone can start creating prints with sublimation.
In the following video you will see cell phone cases being sublimated.
Sublimation is a process of transferring an image from paper to fabric using a heat press. The ink contained in the paper is transferred to the fabric or other material you want when the paper is subjected to pressure and high temperature for a few seconds.
Because the printing process on paper is done using a computer, there is no limitation on the number of colors, however the quality of the result, depending on the type of fabric / mesh where the sublimation is applied, may leave something to be desired.
For example, as sublimation printers do not print in white ink, the prints are better on white or clear substrates. It is difficult, for example, to print a black T-shirt without needing another auxiliary technique.
For example, in the video you see a black T-shirt being made on white fabric, with a technique known as full print .
Another important limitation of sublimation is the material that can be printed on. In sublimation products need to be polyester, that is, if you want to print a shirt with sublimation it has to have at least 80% polyester in the composition for the print to look good.
Of course, there are currently auxiliary techniques that allow you to print pieces in cotton but so far all of them fall short in terms of durability.
Transfers and thermoseals in general
Do not confuse sublimation with transfer processes and other thermobonding. While all of these techniques use heat for stamping, they differ greatly from one another in a number of ways.
As it is not possible to sublimate cotton, many people use complementary techniques such as OBM and transfers to accomplish this task. And they even work, but all that we have tested so far leave something to be desired in terms of durability.
Some fade with washing, others start to peel off or even crack with daily use. So be very careful and test a lot before starting to use it.
The acronym DTF comes from direct-to-film (in Portuguese, direct to film), a relatively new technique that emerged as an alternative to sublimation and transfers.
It basically consists of printing your art on a special transparent film, then applying a polyamide powder to this film and then applying it to the pieces using a heat press.
Unlike sublimation, DTF allows printing with white ink, which makes it possible to print dark parts, including black.
Polyester powder being applied in DTF stamping
Due to its limitation, laser printing on fabrics/knits is currently little used in clothing. By “printing” (or better, burning) in only 1 color, the effect is always the same, similar to the corrosion effect done in serigraphy.
Embroidery is not considered a print, but I decided to mention it in this post because it is another technique for customizing clothes.
Although it can be done by hand, the garments make use of industrial embroidery that allows for greater quality and speed of up to 1500 stitches per minute (something impossible in manual embroidery). The embroidery designer creates the design in software specially created for this purpose, and then transfers it via floppy disk or USB to the machine, which faithfully reproduces it.
In addition to embroidery, modern embroidery machines apply sequins, ribbons, etc. Some even perform laser cutting.
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