September '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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74 || P R I N T W E A R S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 5 P erformance garments have fast become a top requested prod- uct for decorators. From team wear to work pieces to race shirts, nearly every market has a use for the technical stretchy fabric. How- ever, the specific traits of these products also mean special considerations for the types of inks and techniques used. DYE, DAMAGE, AND HEAT CONTROL Sport, fitness, and performance products are often made of a mélange of fibers of var- ious synthetic origin, and most we see to- day contain a vast majority of polyester and polyester-derivative fibers. Of course this also portends that the dyes used to make the fibers the desired color are the exact dyes that cause screen printers (and direct-to-garment printers for that matter) so much consternation. The dye used in this synthetic family of fibers is quite heat reac- tive, often in numbers below the cure range for standard plastisol inks. For the purpose of this article we are talking about polyester, span- dex/Lycra, and any other synthetic fibers that regardless of the exact mix contain the dyes that sublimate at temperatures near 300 degrees F. The dyes needed to color this family of synthetics cause the average printer night sweats over heat related product damage and the "bleed- ing" of colors into the ink layers. PRINTABILITY The first issue with printing performance garments is printability, which relates di- rectly to the fibers themselves. Synthetics will not absorb liquids as readily as natu- P erformance garments have fast fibers the desired color are the exact Prints that Perform Performance garments and the inks we use to print them B Y D O U G L A S G R I G A R Douglas Grigar is a screen-printing veteran since the T-shirt heyday of the 1980s. He has worked as a freelance artist, graphics system administrator, and the pre-press production manag- er for a sportswear company for over 10 years. Grigar was general manager of the production division for an upscale licensed-goods chain before he began consulting full time in 2001. He now provides technical-consulting services and training, seminars and work- shops and may be contacted at ■ Intermediate

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