November '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 N O V E M B E R P R I N T W E A R || 53 to print these materials instead of complaining about them. Most of these shirts or sweats can be printed in the same way you would the cotton version, however, you do need to account for bleed on polyester. The big issue with safety garments is when reflective ink needs to be added. Most of the straight-line reflective areas on these gar- ments consist of some sort of reflective tape and are put on during the manufacturing pro- cess. These tapes meet the safety specifications for reflectivity set up by the government. Howev- er, more and more printers are getting requests from custom- ers—especially EMTs, police and firefighters—for a reflective print, such as a logo or other marking. While these designs can be printed using a reflective screen printing ink, the designs will not meet the government specifications for reflectivity like the tapes do. All reflective inks work in a similar fashion. A reflective bead is mixed into a base, and when printed, the base will soak into the garment and leave the bead partially exposed to light, reflecting light back to the source. Depending on how much bead is exposed and the orienta- tion of the bead, the reflectivity can change. For this reason, it cannot pass the reflectivity test set up by the government. This is also why screen printed reflective ink is considered a visibility enhancement. Most reflective inks on the market are either water-based or plastisol-based prod- ucts. Most use some sort of coupler to en- sure that the bead is locked into the ink film when fully cured and will not release from the garment during normal wash cycles. When printing reflective ink, remember that less is more. One flood stroke and one print stroke using the mesh counts recom- mended by the manufacturer will give you the brightest and most durable print. BAND AIDS When printing workwear, I like to keep the following products on hand for challenging situations: • Stretch additive: This will allow the ink greater stretch. • Low-cure additive: This will allow the ink to cure at a slightly lower tempera- ture to help reduce bleed and also help with any shrinkage issues. • Low-bleed reducer: If your inks need to be reduced, error on a low-bleed reduc- er to help with bleed. Now that you know which inks to use with which fabrics, printing on workwear is hopefully less daunting. While the term workwear might be new to you as a screen printer, it can definitely be a growing part of your business. By following ink manu- facturers' recommendations and doing the proper testing, it can be a very profitable addition to your company.

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