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The Future of Special Effects in Screen Printing

(July 2010) posted on Wed Jul 28, 2010

This month, Trimingham looks at creating special effects on garments and gives advice on how to achieve the desired results.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Flock printing is very popular in some high-fashion brands, and certain shirts that are decorated with flock can really command a higher price level. The equipment for flock printing can be costly, and the process takes some practice to get right—but the results can really be great to feel. Little flock fibers are charged, made to stand up through a static current, pressed or shot through a gun or wand onto an adhesive layer on the shirt, and then cured. Flocking gives the shirt a very fuzzy feel (Figure 6).

Art Flock art is best kept somewhat simple so that the fibers have enough surface area to grab on the garment. Flock should be designed with the whole garment in mind. Too large an area of flock can make a garment very heavy.

Separations Experience is needed when dealing with flock separations. An adhesive layer must be printed so that it will separate from other areas of normal print. Flock can sometimes be overprinted onto a regular print to achieve a variety of effects.

Production The biggest hurdle for applying a flock print is to get enough practice with the equipment for a proper application using the static charge. The flock fibers are first charged to make them stand up and then the garment is charged. The flock will then zap over through the adhesive layer and stick upright to maintain a fuzzy feel. Some automatic presses can be set up with flock attachments that allow for high-volume production (flocking can take a long time when using the smaller wands).

Burn out
This is a process where a chemical is printed onto a cotton/poly blended shirt and then the acid in the chemical dissolves the cotton in the blend. When the shirt is washed, all of the cotton in the specific areas on the garment is washed off, resulting in a transparent poly garment in just those places (Figure 7).

Art Ink application is similar to the process used in discharge, and effects aren’t really visible until the garment is washed. The same variables that apply to discharge inks apply to the burn-out inks. Producing artwork for this process requires that the artist be familiar with the final look so that the best effect can be created.


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