Polyester and poly blend garments continues to grow in popularity over the years. It has become one of the most common types of materials used in the promotional apparel world. When printing on polyester and polyester blends, it can sometimes prove to be a struggle, as it's one of the most challenging fabrics to print on.The main reason polyester and polyester blends are such a hard print to perfect, is because of a term known as dye migration. Dye migration happens when the dye from a garment contaminates the screen print ink color, causing the print color to appear tinted. One of the issues is when the shirts are printed and go thru the dryer they can look great, but It can sometimes take a few hours or days before the migration starts to happen.
In order to overcome these difficulties of printing on polyester, manufacturers of decorated apparel should follow these 3 common techniques used to get the best possible print on polyester garments:
1. Dryer Temperature: Do not cure shirts in excess of 320 degrees.
2. Inks: Use a low bleed, high opacity special polyester ink on all polyester products.
3. Stacking : Before stacking garments at the end of the dryer, shake them to cool. Heat from stacked garments can draw dye from the garment on top, into the ink on the garment below
3 things you can do to help:
1. Be conscience and help your apparel decorator be prepared by letting them know beforehand that your garment is polyester.
2. Show your customer the right shirts. Some manufacturers have made polyester shirts that are engineered not to migrate. Sanmars/Sport Tek shirt ST350 is a great example.
3. Your customers love polyester shirts because of how comfortable they are. Make sure you let them know that the hand of the print will be heavier. You may have a great Tri blend 4.3 oz shirt that suddenly gets a bullet proof vest printed on it, meaning a heavy print to stop the migrating. Pantone colors may vary a bit as well.
Even after using the techniques discussed above, some migration may still happen, so letting your customer know beforehand may help any upcoming issues.