Printwear

September '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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48 || P R I N T W E A R S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 O f all the niches decorators find themselves catering to, performance wear tends to be a common group. Uniforms for things like baseball teams and varsity soccer leagues typically feature heat-printed names and numbers, but in the ever-changing world of hyper-customization, it's not uncom- mon for teams to ask for screen- printed garments. Additionally, non-sports markets also con- tinue to seek out screen- printed performance gar- ments, especially with the continued popularity of the athleisure category. Shops can meet these demands by screen printing with athletic inks and keeping customers ed- ucated on this product's caveats. COMMONLY OVERLOOKED While some printers may already be familiar with athletic inks, there are a few things shops can overlook which affects the over- all quality of the print and the final product. "They have to un- derstand they're not using the standard ink they have on inventory," stresses Gregory Markus, RhinoTech, noting that decorators should pay close attention to overstretching and distortion when it comes to this ink category. One major component to keep in mind, says Rick Davis, RKD Consulting, is the viscosity of athletic inks. "The first inclina- tion many have is to add a viscosity reducer to the ink to improve the printability," Davis ex- plains. "Adding a reducer to improve printability also increases the pen- etration of the ink into the fabric, which in turn results in poor coverage." To compensate for poor coverage, printers will some- times flash and hit the color a second time, applying an excessive ink film thickness onto the fabric. Davis sug- gests stirring the ink for approximately one minute, which will introduce heat, drop the viscosity, and im- prove printability by leaving the ink in its original, ready-to-print state. Sources also recommend paying close attention to flash cure and dryer times. With most athletic garments featuring at least a partial polyester construction, the potential for either dye migration, subli- mation, or both from the inks can be even more extreme than with other apparel. To mitigate this, Jason Vanick, Princredible, suggests screen printers avoid pushing cure temperatures above the 290-degree F mark. In some instances, parties suggest the use of a gray blocker base to trap sublimation or dye migration on more temperamental garments. In addition to dryer and flash control, maintaining clean platens will help ensure a quality print with athletic inks. Any slight bumps on the platen will transfer and show through the ink. BEAT THE HEAT Temperature is the recurring theme when it comes to athletic inks, and that includes storage and transport conditions. Since any major spikes in temperature can affect the quality of these inks, shops can start by making sure their supplier is a reliable, reputable company that is knowledgeable Taking the Heat Off Screen printing with athletic inks B Y M I K E C L A R K mon for teams to ask for screen- printed garments. Additionally, non-sports markets also con- screen printing with athletic inks and keeping customers ed- ucated on this product's caveats. tion many have is to add a viscosity reducer to the ink to improve the printability," Davis ex coverage times flash and hit the color Shops can offset the cost of ath- letic inks by charg- ing slightly more and explaining the quality of these inks to the custom- er. (Image courtesy RhinoTech)

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