Printing Process + General Tshirt Questions Answered

Printing Process + General Tshirt Questions Answered

How is a tshirt made? How is the image placed on the shirt? Is it paint? Why do I prefer some prints to others? Why are some shirts soft and others coarse?

These are some of the many questions we seek to answer for you upon your very first visit and consultation with us. During the initial evaluation, we ask pointed questions aimed at sussing out exactly how we can help and how we can get you the very best product and print you've ever ordered all while staying within your budget.

Here are the three most common questions we get :

How is a tshirt made?

Screenprinting consists of 3 elements : the screen, the squeegee, and ink. Porous fabric mesh is stretched at different tensions over aluminum frames to create a proper screen. We use these screens a varying sizes and tensions to create a stencil using a photo-chemical emulsion, a process very similar to developing photographs. Once proper registration is achieved on-press, ink is forced through the negative openings on the screen by applying pressure with a squeegee. The shirt is then removed from the printing press and placed on a conveyor belt which carries the item into the drying oven, not unlike a pizza oven. On the other side of the dryer is the finished product et viola! your new favorite tshirt!

Why do I prefer some prints to others?

More often than not, when a customer comes to us with a new project he or she will have a general idea and subsequent preference on how the print should look and feel. She may not know exactly why a specific type of print is her favorite but like every other consumer out there, she knows what she likes and what she doesn't like. This is where our expertise in our field is unbeatable. Because our motto is Every. Print. Counts. we always seek to fit the print-type with the customer.

For example, one of our clients is a CrossFit gym. They have never explicitly told us that they prefer to have a light print on a tshirt, but through consultation and carefully crafted questions, we were able to establish that, though, they want to proudly represent the gym, they don't want a print that will weigh them down. Of course, we always put ourselves in our clients' shoes and in this specific case, we know that if we were working out all day, the last thing we'd want across our back or chest is a huge, thick screen print. So to meet their unique needs, we've worked closely with them to create designs and print techniques that match their brand yet allow them maximum comfort for perfect all-day wear-ability that can't be beat.

Another client we have is a food-supply company. They prefer big, bold, thick prints, a more traditional approach to printing.  They want to reach a general audience and don't need to tailor their shirt-types to the retail-minded.

To acheive a softer print like those used with the CrossFit gym, we will often employ water-based or extract inks. This gives the garment a soft hand and light feel. For the food-supply company, we'll use more industry standard inks such as plastisol. This gives a long-lasting and vibrant print.

We always use the highest quality ink, no matter the type. All in all, there is a time and a place for all the numerous screenprinting techniques and ink-types, and we're happy to pair your project with the best techniques.

Why are some shirts soft and others coarse?

A standard tshirt, such as one you'd find at a sporting event or a concert, is usually made of carded cotton or a blend of carded cotton and polyester. You can tell it's this type of shirt because it's coarse to the touch. Carded cotton is a cheaper method of spinning cotton into yarn as, once it's spun onto the fiber bundle it is. This results in less waste and is, therefore, far less costly to produce. This process results in a fuzzier substrate

A retail tshirt, such as one you may find at a high-end store, is usually made of ringspun, combed cotton. Even if you don't realize why, this type of tshirt is usually your very favorite. It's softer to the touch and has a silky drop. Combed cotton is created the same way as carded but there is an extra step of combing out the yarn until all the impurities are removed. This results in more waste and since there is an additional step, it is usually a more costly process.

If there are any other tshirt- or screenprinting-related subjects that you've always wanted to know about, just ask us! We eat, breathe, and sleep tshirts & screenprinting so we are experts in our field. There is truly nothing we like talking about more than tshirts!


Origins : A crash course in apparel decoration

Origins : A crash course in apparel decoration