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Establishing Rules for Underbase Printing

(July 2015) posted on Tue Jul 21, 2015

A poorly printed underbase will produce washed-out prints or garments too heavy to wear. Find out how to establish procedures that will lead to a quality product, every time.


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By Thomas Trimingham

Having samples of the garments ahead of time will also help you avoid any problems with the seams. Get the smallest and largest sizes of the garment that will likely be ordered. This will allow you to adapt the artwork to fit within the printable area for each size, or know you have an issue that might cause a reject with that specific style or size of shirt. For example, when you print different types of baseball jersey T-shirts, the sleeves can run at an angle that may hit a wide or vertical design near the shoulder seam. This can cause serious issues with an underbase print, problems that would also show through in the top colors and cause the shirts to be scrapped.

Design Complexity
The more complex a design, the smaller the individual elements become, which can make creating a successful underbase more difficult. Designs with many different elements (shapes, spaces, lines, etc.) and/or a lot of color transitions usually require careful consideration. Although a simpler underbase can occasionally work with a complex design, usually it’s a sign of a poor-quality separation, where the underbase is too solid to properly support the detail in the top colors. It doesn’t have to be a nighmare, but it will be usually take considerably longer to prepare than the other colors in the design.

Screen tension is of particular concern when a design has very small image elements that the under- base needs to support. Thicker, tackier inks might pull the mesh slightly during the print if the screen isn’t tight enough. This can cause the white underbase to show up in unwelcome places and the top colors not to register properly. Even a small amount of distortion from screen stretch can be visible due to the lower margin for error with small, tightly registered image elements (see Figure 2).



 

Design Location
The placement of the design on the garment can become a concern when seams or the edge of the garment cause the squeegee or screen to become unlevel during the print stroke. This is a common problem when printing across the zipper of a hoodie or over the seam of a garment’s shoulder sleeve. These “bumps” push the screen away from the surface of the garment, causing distortion in the underbase that you’ll typically see as bleeding, puckering, or image drop-offs in the final print.


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