Screen printing on non-cotton fibers is difficult no matter what kind of ink you’re using. But with water based ink it gets particularly tricky. Here are a few non-cotton garment types you might encounter and how best to approach them with water based printing.
Screen Printing on Tri-Blends:
A tri-blend garment will act more like carded cotton than a ring spun cotton garment. Because of the different blend in fabric threads used, the ink won’t adhere to the fabric as easily as it would on 100% cotton garments. Also, because of the high polyester content, these fabrics are more sensitive to heat which makes curing a trickier process. If you treat printing on tri-blends like printing on carded cotton your prints will last longer and look more professional. Adding Opaque Bases and/or using a low cure additive like Warp Drive can also help you to overcome some of the issues involved in printing on ti-blend garments.
Screen Printing on Polyester or Poly Blend Garments:
HSA Water Based Inks actually adhere very well to polyester fabric because of the consistency and quality of the thread and the finer weave of the fabric, but actually curing the ink is where things get more difficult. As polyester fabric heats up past 280 degrees (the normal curing temperature for most ink), the polymer pores open up and let off the dye from the thread color into the ink printed on top via sublimation. This is why a white print on a black polyester shirt turns grey.
There are two ways to avoid this:
1. Use a low cure additive like Warp Drive and cure your print at a low temperature (under 260 degrees). This works about 90% of the time.
2. Use Warp Drive and a dye blocker underbase, like Green Galaxy Gamma Blocker Black, together. Using a blocker underbase adds an extra step but prevents any and all dye migration from getting into the top layer of the inks. This is the safest way to print on polyester or athletic garments if you want the BEST results.
Are there any non-cotton fibers that you find particularly difficult to print water based ink on? Let us know!
Just dipping your toes into the realm of water based printing? Perhaps you’re looking for more information on its pros and cons? Unique benefits and limitations? Requirements and rewards?….Or maybe simply, how to print with water based ink?