January '23

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 3 • G R A P H I C S P R O 6 3 for small runs and producing high details, says Titi Lin, senior designer for JERZEES, Fruit of the Loom and Russell Athletic. e downside of DTG is that shirts need to be pre-treated before they can be printed, "which may cause stains around the art- work," she says. With DTG, placement of design is limited and it isn't cost effective for high volumes. It also makes it hard to match pantone colors, she adds. Heat press Heat press is when a design is printed onto different materials such as vinyl, ink- jet or laser transfer paper, plastisol trans- fers, or sublimation, and then transferred onto a T-shirt or other garment with a heat press. Heat transfer vinyl printing is a deco- rating process that uses a specialty vinyl polymer with an adhesive backing that is applied to garments with a heat press machine. "ere are dozens of different novelty types and colors of vinyl transfers avail- able in the market, with many of them working on all types of fabrics, includ- ing 100% cotton, cotton/poly blends and 100% polyester," Davis says. e vinyl is available in small sheets or large rolls of material that is then cut into the shape of what will be applied to the garment. "Different vinyl types require different heat settings for application, so low heat applications are ideal for polyester tees and higher heat applications will work best on 100% cotton tees," he adds. Heat press printing is easy to do and can be used on almost any material, Lin says. It is also great for small runs. e down- side of heat press printing is that prints can be stiff and the heat can discolor the garment. Prints can also fade. Sublimation is a dye transfer process where an image using dyes has been printed onto a specialty paper or plas- tic sheet that is then used to transfer the image to a garment through a heat press machine. As the heat press activates these dyes, it changes them from a solid to a gas, which then transfers and bonds with the polyester fibers of the shirt. ese dyes will only permanently bond with polyes- ter, so this print process is best suited for 100% polyester tees, Davis says. If sublimation printing is done on a cotton or cotton/poly shirt, the dyes will begin to wash away after home launder- ing, he adds. "Like DTG printing, artwork can have millions of different colors and can pro- duce high-resolution, photo realistic images," he says. "For best results, print- ing on a white polyester tee will give you the highest image quality." Screen printing has been the king of the T-shirt printing industry for decades.

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