May '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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82 | Printwear M ay 20 1 4 T extile screen-printing inks have seen a remarkable evolution since their inception more than 40 years ago. Prior to the con- cept of a company actually manufacturing an ink specifically for the embellishment of textiles, printers were using whatever was available to get the desired graphic onto the garment. One early need for garment embellish- ment was the need to stencil numbers onto football jerseys. With no products man- ufactured at the time for that application, printers used enamel paint as their media. Needless to say, the longevity of the print was not to be bragged on. In time, plastisols were discovered as a valid alternative to paints in printing not only on sports apparel but T-shirts as well. This opened the door to the industry we see today with multiple manufacturers and nu- merous variations on products allowing for countless applications. Water-Based Inks The first textile screen-printing inks that were sold commercially for the intent of garment embellishment were water-based inks or dyes. These inks launched the T-shirt printing industry into a new era of creativity and color. In the mid- to late-'60s, when plastisols were beginning to be developed, printers were knocking out water-based prints on huge infrared dryers with multi-filament mesh that would be stapled to a wood- Inks of the Times Rick Davis is the Southeastern Sales Manager for the Triangle Ink Company. He has been in the textile screen printing and manufacturing industry for more than 30 years. His background includes plant management, consulting, apparel manufacturing, con- tractor management, and quality control. Davis is a member of the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technology and is a regular contributor to industry publications and speaker at industry trade events. You can contact him at Pictured is an early 1979 water-based print printed through 12 XX silk and hand separated. (all images courtesy the author) an overview of screen-printing inks b y R i c k D a v i s 20 1 4 M ay Printwear | 83 PW_MAY14.indd 82 4/17/14 11:15 AM

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