Specialty, all-over, over-sized, AOP plus, faux this, and vintage; these are some of the many different types of screen printing going on these days. The challenge lies in deciding which is going to produce the ideal product. To get the best result on any print, consult with your screen printer. By telling your screen printer what affect you would like to achieve, and providing any visuals you have, your printer can troubleshoot complications and poor printing issues. Together, you can find a solution that will produce the right result at the right price.
Soft-hand Screen Printing
Soft-hand screen printing is probably the most requested type of screen printing these days. The word “hand” refers to how the print area feels. These days, your customers are savvy to the difference between the bullet proof promotional t-shirt of decades past, and the contemporary retail quality soft prints found in today’s market. Vintage printing has a soft hand with a more distressed look.
Water-based is super-soft, but can only be printed on white or light colors for standard acceptable visibility. Water-based ink is often requested by the eco-minded because the name suggests that it is is better for the environment than plastisol ink. This is an on-going debate as there are environmental advantages and disadvantages for each.
Discharge is a water-based ink mixed with an activator and is used for printing on dark or colored garments. This ink bleaches out the fabric color while depositing pigment so the print color is visible. Discharge inks only work on 100% cotton fabrics and can still be rather unpredictable depending on the treatment and dye lot of the fabric.
Soft-hand additives were created to make designs printed with plastisol inks feel like they were printed with water-based. You may have heard of Chino or Fashion Soft. These are brand names for ink softeners. Inks mixed with additives are more transparent than their standard plastisol counter parts. For this reason, they work best on white or light colored garments.
Printing using a high mesh is another option for achieving a soft feeling print. The mesh count on a screen, in part, determines how much ink is pushed through the stencil onto a garment. Less ink means a softer print. This can be the most cost effective print for achieving a softer hand without incurring additional cost.