December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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92 | PRINTWEAR D EC E M B E R 20 1 4 O ffset heat-applied transfers came into their own during the early and mid-1970s. While screen printing four-color process transfers were very much available at this time, it was difficult to obtain a good result from printing a four-color photorealistic heat transfer via screen printing. Much of the problem with printing four-color process transfers was creating good photo reproduction finishes. This aligned with the efforts to maintain perfect registration with the four-ink color, which was usually a halftone set using 305 to 350 screens. This resulted in a poor print finish when it came time to press the transfer on the garment. Obtaining color contrast with the screen print four-color set was also a challenge, especially if the graphic called for tonal variables that included multiple vibrant colors or graphics that required light and dark shades to reproduce photorealistic print definition. The initial use of lithographic four-col- or offset inks—black, cyan, magenta, and yellow—for heat transfers was qualified by the experimentation and commercial use of offset oil-based inks, which were compatible with a conventional offset lithographic print press. When print- ed on prepared transfer offset paper, the printer produced a high-quality transfer photo reproduction. In fact, it often beat four-color screen printing in quality and speed to market. The printing of multiple offset transfers in sheet form effectively made the job easier, quicker, and cleaner. The offset inks, the white ink process, and the transfer paper remain crucial in producing a high-quality offset litho- graphic transfer. Once printed on the offset press using etched aluminum litho- graphic plates, decal ink-printed heat transfers could be left for several hours be- fore they were taken from the lithographic printer and dispatched to the screen print shop. This is where a screen was prepared that allowed a white or clear plastisol ink to be printed on top of the lithographic inks. White ink had to be printed onto the lithographic ink surface because the oil-based decal inks were not fusible at any temperature when placed under the heat press. The screen-printed white ink provided two important values for the Chris Pluck has been closely associated with the imprinting of textiles for more than 30 years, initially working in Europe with heat fusible transfer systems, in both screen printing and offset lithography technologies. He then became instrumen - tal in establishing inventive heat fusible printing products and print application methods. Pluck has been living and working in the U.S. since 1993 and has gained recognition in all aspects of the printed textiles industry, focusing on business marketing and inventive print applications. He is currently employed as business development director at Insta Graphic Systems, Cerritos, California. He resides in Southern California. Lithographic Offset Transfers A look at their place in the heat transfer world now, and in the future B Y C H R I S P L U C K This transfer was printed on a high gloss transfer paper that produces an opaque glossy glitter transfer combination finish. (All images cour- tesy the author) Here is an offset transfer (litho four-color process inks printed on matte finish paper) with a screen-printed white backer overprint. The white ink releases the non fusible litho inks from the substrate paper during heat press application to the garment.

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