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Catching the On-Press Culprit

(February/March 2019) posted on Mon Mar 04, 2019

Whether it was the art, screen, ink, or a combination that caused your job to go south on press, here are four steps you can take to identify the snag – and prevent it from happening again.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Depending on the shirt color and the nature of the design elements, you may not want to trap every part of a color. Some areas may work better without a trap and learning to spot them takes some experience. A good rule of thumb: On a dark shirt, it’s a good idea to overlap the edges of an underbase slightly, or reduce the underbase edges a bit to allow for some trapping if the top color is supposed to completely cover the underbase. If an outline black element confines parts of the image, you may want just a little overlap where the color and the black outline meet, so the underbase doesn’t show in case of a slight distortion in the printing process. 

Too much trapping can also be a problem. Colors can bleed or mash to create poor edge qualities in the final print. The art of good trapping is to compensate just enough so everything fits together and covers the things that it should with just enough allowance for tiny shifts in registration. To determine a good trapping standard for your shop, you can print some detailed lines in white on a black shirt and then overprint this with the exact same artwork in red. You will see some white showing on the sides; measure it to estimate how much of an overlap you would need to cover these edges so no white shows. This is a simple way to approximate the minimal trapping distance necessary for the specific mesh and screen tension used in the test.

Color Matching Steps 
Printed inks will not always match the color that is shown on the computer screen. This may sound so obvious that you just rolled your eyes, but for some reason, there is still a prevailing trend for color separations to be created under the assumption that the ink will go onto the shirt and be the same color it was in the bucket. 


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