Screen printing on zipper hoodies is a great way to diversify your printing options. Zipper hoodies can be a bit difficult to print on. A normal platen won’t cut it, and print placement is key. Don’t worry though: we’ve got you covered. In this video, Josh Wells walks through the basics of printing over zipper hoodies.
First, let’s talk about art. If you’re going to be printing across the zipper, you need to separate the art so it accommodates the zipper in the middle. Printing directly on the metal zipper isn’t a good idea without the right ink. Additionally, there’s a bump on either side where the zipper is sewn in.
Adjust the art so it’s about an inch apart in the middle. This will accommodate the zipper running down the center of your design. Printing in a different place? Don't worry about adjusting the art for the zipper channel. Left chest prints, back prints, and other placements can be designed as normal.
Now, let’s talk about printing.
PRINTING ZIPPER HOODIES
When printing zipper hoodies, you’ll need to grab a specific platen. Since the zipper of the hoodie stands up from the rest of the garment, it’s difficult — maybe impossible — to print on zipper hoodies using a standard platen. To get the job done, pick up a zipper platen.
This platen has a groove down the center of the platen for the zipper to rest in. This makes the zipper level with the rest of the garment. Zipper platens can be bought, or you can build your own if you’re feeling handy.
To load the hoodie on the platen, rest the zipper in the groove. Ensure that the zipper stays in place by applying some adhesive to the groove before loading.
It’s important to do a test print before printing zipper hoodies. The zipper can come out of the groove during a print stroke, or the groove may not be large enough for the hoodie you’re printing on. If the groove is too small, you can cut out more of the channel to create a deeper cut. If the zipper falls too far down, grab a few thin pieces of wood or foam to support the zipper and make it level.
Pro Tip: Not all zippers are the same. Some zippers may be wider than others, or not sewn into the jacket in a perfectly straight line. Testing is very important when printing zipper hoodies.
RELATED: SCREEN PRINTING HOODIE BASICS
CURING ZIPPER HOODIES
Curing zipper hoodies is pretty much the same as regular hoodies, with one exception. The zipper can get hot during curing. Since the ink needs to reach cure temp, the zipper will reach that temperature too. Say you’re using FN-INK™ to print on zipper hoodies. FN-INK™ is a low-cure ink and cures at 260°F. Therefore, the zipper is also going to reach at least 260°F.
Don’t grab the zipper until it has had plenty of time to cool down. You don’t want to burn yourself (although let’s be honest, it would be a pretty cool-looking burn). Test for full cure with a stretch test and wash test before boxing up those hoodies and patting yourself on the back.