November '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 46 of 68

A big consideration when choosing which reflec- tive material to use is the fabric it will be applied to. Polyester is heat sensitive and nylon requires a spe- cial adhesive that will form a strong enough bond. Options include cutter (for one or two colors) and printer/cutter (for full color) materials. (All im- ages courtesy Stahls') SAFETY FIRST S T A C Y S N E L L HOW TO ADD REFLECTIVE AND NEON TO APPAREL 4 4 P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 M uch like regular apparel, the land- scape of safety garments is con- stantly changing. The safety cate- gory encompasses everything from lawn maintenance, road crews, and construction to emergency services like police, ambulance, fire, and government agencies. Safety apparel decoration can be confusing at times, so this list of tips and tricks will hopefully make the process more efficient. KNOW YOUR FABRIC TYPE This tip may sound simple, and it can be if only printing cotton. This natural fabric is the most stable printing surface and can be used for every decoration type except sublimation. Where it starts to get tricky is when we get into polyester and nylon materials, of which many safety apparel styles are made. These fabrics have smooth, synthetic fibers that make it harder for traditional heat- applied adhesives to bond to. When screen printing on polyester and nylon, special ink additives or an ink formula with a lower cur- ing temperature is required. Heat printing is the ideal decoration meth- od for these two fabrics. There are a variety of reflective heat transfer materials that are made with spe- cial adhesives designed to adhere to difficult-to-decorate nylon and polyester. These include cutter materials and printer/cutter materials. KNOW YOUR GARMENT'S TEMPERATURE LIMITATIONS The biggest challenge decorators encounter with to- day's safety fabrics is often the application tempera- ture. Many polyester garments are heat sensitive and will burn/scorch under high temperatures. Using a product with a low activation temperature and/or more aggressive adhesive will aid in a successful and long-lasting bond. Another issue exacerbated by high temperatures is dye migration. Make sure you are using materials/ products that block the garment from bleeding and apply at the lowest possible temperature. This will help eliminate this issue.

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