September '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 S E P T E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 75 ral fibers like cotton. Synthetic fibers are smooth, slick, and to some extent liquid resistant or repellent. This clearly becomes a problem when printing. Careful consideration of the ink system you choose and how this plays out with mesh choice, squeegee durometer, and even print speed and pressure is critical. Be sure and plan for a bit of research and a bit of practice on castoff product to get the best technique for each type of ink system. This also means that standard practices such as using 110 mesh and flashing everything that doesn't move can produce an unsellable product. Each manufacturer of available ink prod- ucts has starting-point information on how to use the product. It is well worth the time to read through this literature to better un- derstand the recommended mesh and pro- cedures. WASHFASTNESS The second issue with performance gar- ments is washfastness, which refers to the final adhesion and cure of the product. Foremost, this is a heat control issue and it can be a challenge for any printer. The trick, of course, is to get the entire ink film layer to the required temperature for a cure, yet stay under the temperature that will cause the dye to turn to a gas and sub- limate. This can be a narrow range and in- cludes the dryer as well as any flash units employed through the process. Each ink system will have its own specifi- cations, but the basic concepts are shared. It is best to work at temperatures lower than sublimation. Ink should also carry block- ing agents to prevent sublimating dye from migrating into the ink layer and produe a visible transition of color. Washfastness also requires a general compatibility with the fi- bers of the fabric. VISUAL COLOR TRANSMISSION The most feared issue with performance apparel is, again, related directly to heat. Visual color transmission is actually a pro- cess where dyes are heated and turned to a gas. The dye will then migrate into the ink film and result in visual bleeding. Due to Opposite: Synthetic sport and performance prod- ucts are gaining in popularity and will continue to do so, creating the desire for custom printed de- signs and numbering on a not so printer-friendly fabric platform. (Image courtesy the author)

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