December 9, 2015

Screen Printing – T-shirt Ink Applications & Feel

Screen Printing Split Fountain

Screen Printing Split Fountain

Merriam-Webster defines screen printing as

“A stencil process in which coloring matter is forced onto the material to be printed through the meshes of a silk or organdy screen so prepared as to have pervious printing areas and impervious non-printing areas.”

With that said… Screen Printing is much more than that. It’s safe to say the vast majority of t-shirt garment embellishment is achieved via direct screen printing. It’s fast process, diverse application abilities and cost effectiveness make it the go to method for much of the world.

We specialize in direct print Plastisol, Water-based, Silicone and Discharge inks.  There is a specific application for each type of ink as such, we work to help decide which ink is best for your t-shirt project. In most cases, it’s all about ‘feel’.

  • Plastisol inks is a PVC based, solvent free ink designed to sit on top of the t-shirt to create a durable, highly opaque print.  It performs well on most fabric types including 100% Cotton, 100% Polyesters, Cotton/Poly blends and Nylon. Because of printing processes and ink costs, it is the most cost effective method.  We print most projects in plastisol based ink.
  • Water-based ink is, as the name suggests, is an ink based in water.  It is printed on the t-shirt relatively the same process as plastisol inks and It performs well on most fabric types including 100% Cotton, 100% Polyesters, Cotton/Poly blends and Nylon. Water-based inks are best suited for lighter garments as the ink is designed to penetrate the garment to yield a  softer hand (feel) on the shirt.   As such, water-based inks require more stroke passes to gain a highly opaque print resulting in a bit higher printing price.
  • Discharge inks is a water based ink that uses a discharging agent such as chlorine or hydrosulfite to release, remove or ‘bleach’ the t-shirt dye back to the natural fabric color. The ink dyes those natural colored fibers thus redyeing the fabric on the garment.  As a result, the printing has no feel difference between printed and non printed areas on the garment. Discharge inks perform well on most 100% Cotton garments. Due to the variations of fabric, and dyes, some variation in performance may occur in finally print.  Discharge is not recommended for non-cotton applications, and because of ink and process costs, discharge ink projects are incur an added cost.
  • Silicone Inks are one of the most expensive t-shirt screen printing we offer, but it has some awesome benefits.  Minimal dye bleeding, extreme elasticity and high opacity. They are PVC free.

Make it standout with our special effect processes.  We can add several additives to the ink to give the t-shirt print a standout effect.

  • Puff: formulated to cure and expand rapidly
  • Suede: makes the plastisol a softer, duller feel on the t-shirt
  • Glow in the Dark: it glows!
  • Glitter: glitter flecks are embedded in the print
  • Foil: adhesive and metallic foil applied to the t-shirt and
  • Stretch:  added to allow the ink to stretch with the flexible garments like lycra and spandex.

What does it cost?  Our t-shirt printing costs are typically based on a few criteria. T-shirt cost, quantity, ink type, and number of colors. Below is the pricing matrix we used for standard plastisol printing. These prices only reflect actual printing prices.  Garments are priced separately.

Quantity 1 Color 2 Color 3 Color 4 Color 5 Color 6 Color
12-35 $3.20 $4.20 $5.20 $6.20 $7.20 $8.20
36-71 $2.15 $2.38 $2.70 $2.95 $3.35 $3.75
72-143 $1.98 $2.15 $2.38 $2.70 $3.01 $3.35
144-287 $1.60 $1.98 $2.15 $2.38 $2.70 $3.01
288-575 $1.37 $1.60 $1.98 $2.15 $2.38 $2.70
576-999 $1.15 $1.37 $1.60 $1.98 $2.15 $2.38

Inks, Additives, and Transfers (priced per piece)

  • PLASTISOL inks                                                                                  INCLUDED
  • WATER-BASED inks                                                                             add $0.50
  • DISCHARGE inks                                                                                  add $1.50
  • SPECIALTY Inks (High density, Gel, Puff, Glow, or Glitter)                   add $0.50
  • Additive for Nylon jackets                                                                   add $.50
  • Foil adhesive additive                                                                          add $.75

Additional Pricing Info: (No Exceptions)

Screen Setup: First screen per design is included. Additional colors priced at $15 per color on all orders.
Basic Artwork Setup:
$15 to setup all non-print ready artwork.
Advanced Artwork Setup: $60\hour for additional art design, setup, and format artwork. (30 minute minimum)
Color Changes will incur a $5 per screen per color change.
PMS Color Matching: $10.00