In the printing industry, certain trends come and go, and lately, all over shirt printing is hot.
The all over print, or AOP, is a very striking option that sets apart your promotional apparel from everything else out there. Custom all over print shirts are highly suited to adding flair with patterns like step and repeat, stripes, polka dots, and other simple patterns in super soft inks. However, this method has a vastly underutilized potential for dynamic placement and effect.About All Over Printing
The all-over print (or AOP) is achieved by using screens that are much larger than those used by our regular machines. We actually use an entirely different press for these jobs. For one-color jobs we use a machine called the "One-Armed Bandit." Screens for this machine can accommodate a 42" x 34" design. For jobs with more than one color, we use a much larger machine. It is called the "Alpha 8" Screens for this print are 39" x 28". The jobs on this machine have a 300-piece minimum.
The nature of these printing methods can create unique imperfections in the print area, most likely around the neck, seams, and armpit area so we consider anything within 1/2" registration to be acceptable where full printing contact cannot be made. Creases in the garment can cause absence of print in areas as well. For this reason, we are unable to guarantee that designs on seams will print perfectly.
There are a few different approaches we take to accomplishing an all-over print. These 3 standards have been set up to determine what will be the most cost effective route to obtaining the printed look closest to your art and mock up.
Just as it sounds, this print can be executed in 1 screen. We have a specialized press that cranks out 1 color all-over prints all day long. This unique press makes it affordable to set up and print a one color all-over design for as few as 72 shirts!
Multiple colors in a loosely registered design. The example below shows how the art style of Word To Mother is fabulously suited for all over printing on tshirts. Multi-color AOPs are done on our Alpha 8 press. This is our primary press for most all-over jobs, but please note that full all-over coverage may not be possible on sizes large and up. The minimum order is 300 pieces.
This type of all-over print starts with a one color AOP with added standard print locations such as a full front, wrap, full back, etc.
The main difference between printing standard sizes of designs and all-over printing is in the spray tack application and how the shirts are loaded onto a press. When screen printing a standard design, a light dusting of spray tack is applied to a pallet on press. The shirt is then opened, pulled over the pallet and smoothed flat. This keeps the shirt from lifting up between colors after ink has been applied.
The video below shows a shirt receiving a standard print location being loaded on the press.
The video below shows a printer loading shirts on the 1 Armed Bandit press.
The video below shows a printer loading shirts on the Alpha 8 press.
There is a tendency for the shirt to lift and cause registration problems between colors when printing all-over designs too. Shirts are laid flat on top of tables when we print all over, so the starch mixture is dusted inside the shirt using a separate machine. The shirts are placed on stiff cardboard sheets and smoothed. These cardboard sheets make it much more efficient to load the shirts on and off the over-sized pallets while keeping the shirts smooth and flat.
There’s no doubt all-over printing is awesome. The ability to print anywhere on the shirt is really a liberating aspect for designers, consumers, and vendors alike. It is important to be aware how the quality of these prints differ from screen prints created with a standard press.
Printing over the collar and shoulder seams is really popular, especially with retail inspired designs. If you lay a shirt down flat, you’ll notice how it is not smooth and flat in these areas. For this reason, when the squeegee passes over collars and seams, the ink is not applied smoothly. In these areas, ink has a tendency to skip or pool. This is completely acceptable and expected.
Since the coverage area on all-over prints is so great, we use soft-hand inks. Primarily, we use chino and fashion soft bases. Water-based and/or discharge inks can be used but there are drawbacks to those inks and they do not work with all designs.
The spoilage rate is greater than with standard screen printing. Expect a spoilage rate of 5%-8%. The process is so variable that many more shirts are considered “misprinted”. Of course, we return any defeats to the customer and they can do with them as they please.
Pantone colors are the universal language for communicating specific colors right down to the shade. This language overcomes distances and computer monitors with different calibrations.
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