June '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 6 J U N E P R I N T W E A R || 55 ric composition? What type of ink system is needed or required: ready for use (RFU), or a base and pigment system? Within water-based ink systems, there are four basic chemistry sets: soft bases, discharge systems, high-solids systems, and specialties. Each chemistry has a unique set of characteristics which dictates the ink that is right for the job. There are systems de- signed for a soft hand on cotton, others that are exceptional for printing on discharge- able dark garments, and some that are ideal for performance wear or work with specialty inks. Let's explore the characteristics of each unique set of water-based systems to better understand which will be best for the job. SOFT BASES When the consumer desires a print with a soft hand, is breathable, has vibrant col- ors on white or light garments, and is en- vironmentally friendly, they are typically describing the characteristics of soft bases. This style of water-based screen printing yields an image that is almost undetectable to the touch. The inks penetrate into the fabric instead of remaining on top of the garment, thus creating the soft hand. Inks in this category do not have high opacity and can be influenced by the garment col- ors in some cases. There are several water-based manufac- turers, and product lines vary from manu- facturer to manufacturer. Some systems are for graphics with large open areas, while others are designed for fine detail through higher mesh counts. There are pigment and base systems, as well as RFU. DISCHARGE SYSTEMS Discharge systems are a chemistry set simi- lar to the soft bases, but are designed for use on dark 100 percent cotton garments. These work by essentially "bleaching" out the dye of a garment. The discharged image can be produced from a base with activator or from discharge colors with an activator. Either method produces good results. Discharge powder is a chemical added

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