Tips for screen printers and shirt designers
When working in the screen printing and t-shirt design industry (as I have been for seven years), you are always looking for ways to improve your merchandise. Whether it is with equipment, staff, or tips & tricks you can learn online or at workshops, it is always a good idea to try and stay at the top of the game.
So I wanted to give you a tip on how to improve multi-color screen printed t-shirts.
In our shop, we work with plastisol ink. It is an ink that will never fully dry until it has been cured, either with a flash dryer or by running it through a conveyor oven. The optimal temp for dark color inks is 300 - 320 degrees, while with white ink, the optimal temp for curing is 335 - 345 degrees.
One of the problems you can run into, though with screen printing, is the actual feel of a printed shirt. Everyone has either purchased a shirt or made a shirt that has felt uncomfortable, almost patch-like, because the ink was so heavy on a printed shirt.(shirt looks matted, stacked and not very vibrant)
Well I have found a solution. What you would need is a heat press (if you work in a t-shirt shop, you should already have one for heat transferring vinyl or if not, you can find one online usually for around 150 - 200 dollars) and some Heat Transfer mask aka a carrier sheet. A piece of wax paper would also be sufficient.
After you have printed a shirt and cured it through a conveyor oven or flash dryer, what you can do is turn on the heat press and set it to 315 degrees. The temp I have seen here, 295 degrees, would also work, but you want to stay in between those two temps.
Place the film or wax paper over the printed area (make sure none of the ink is visible outside the film or wax paper or it will stick to the top of the heat press) and then press the heat press down for 10 seconds. After you have pressed it, it is always good to give it a second press, just to make sure the flattening has occurred. You can also run a blank shirt or cloth over the pressed area, just to make sure the pressing has taken.
(film is on top of the ink, so no ink is lying outside of it)
After pressed, you can remove the film or wax paper and see the finished product. No more issues with a shirt looking raised or feeling uncomfortable. The shirt will actually feel as if it was printed directly on the shirt and have a distinct shine that wasn't there before. It will also make the ink and design last longer while being washed in a washing machine.I hope this has been beneficial to anyone that is trying to get into screen printing, t-shirt design, or have been in the game for quite some years. I know it has helped us tenfold and hope it can do the same for you! @jgullinese