Davis explains why determining how a high-performance polyester garment will behave on press and in the dryer is a critical part of a successful print run.
By Rick Davis
Each fabric in garment screen printing presents the printer with a unique challenge. Understanding the printing characteristics of the fabrics we use is a critical part of the business, whether we work with 100% cotton, 50/50 cotton/poly blends, polyester knits, nylon, or Lycra. Only when we have a command over the variables that come with printing onto these types of materials can we really meet our customers’ demands.
The manufacture of today’s garments includes more and more 100%-polyester performance fabrics for every type and style of apparel. Because almost all of these fabrics are now woven, dyed, and assembled overseas, it becomes the garment screen printer’s responsibility to know and understand how these fabrics will perform on press and after they’re printed, as well as how heat affects them during the curing process.
Another consideration for determining fabric printability is that as the licensed market has changed and the need for mass contract printing has decreased, many large contract printers are now looking back at the custom-printing market as a production source. If you’re a contract printer and your business is strong, determining fabric printability offers a greater challenge. After all, you desire to offer the client the greatest degree of printing quality, regardless of the garments they supply.
Garment screen printers decorate a wide variety of textiles, and while discovering how each fabric prints and reacts in production can take a lot of time and effort, the journey is definitely worth it. All fabrics are knitted, bleached, dyed, and sewn in different methods, depending on the manufacturer and type of fabric. One very important factor that you need to keep in mind is the type of dye used in the dying process and the content of that dye within the finished fabric.
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