T-Shirt Forums banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, my names Matt and I attempted to start my own t-shirt line a few years ago. Started to try to learn to screen print but then thought it would take too long to perfect the skill and so found printers to get my designs printed for me.

After not selling much I've come back to wanting to do it myself, in order to make small amounts and not have to pay large set up fees or have massive unneeded stock. I've currently got boxes of unsold shirts in various places in my home!

Originally I wanted discharge printed shirts to avoid the plasticy and cracking of plastisol but eventually changed my mind due to the unpredictability of the process and the lack of colour vibrance. After a bit of research on waterbased on dark colours, I want to give this a go myself, doing more simple stuff, one colour prints or prints that don't require sharp registration.

I've got experience with printers and prints going wrong... many times over and over! And experience of a business not working right and trying to figure out why. I'm also hoping to become a graphic designer professionally. So, if any of this can be helpful to anyone then I'm always happy to try and assist if I can!

Much respect t-shirt people! :D
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,550 Posts
Welcome!

Yes, it is a thorny issue: getting good quality prints on black/dark in a manner that is affordable per unit, but does not require an investment in inventory.

I started out with a relatively inexpensive hobby-level 4-color press and single-color discharge prints. Some shirts discharge to a truer white than others, and I understand that the addition of a Fixer can improve color fastness and brightness. But I soon moved on to high opacity water base instead.

There are lots of effective and inexpensive options for doing your own single-color screen prints (at least in terms of the press itself). If/when you get to doing multi-color prints, the inexpensive 4-color presses can become a crash course in frustration and wasted time and materials. I found myself in the enviable position of having a design that was selling very well, but it was a 3-color design, and I was struggling to produce them with an acceptable level of quality (hard to get the colors in registration and keep them that way). That's when I bit the bullet and bought a professional press (Vastex 2000 series).

You can keep costs and space requirements down by curing with a heat press (or with the flash unit that you use to flash between layers of ink ... but I think heat press is better for curing). Use a polymer type emulsion rather than Diazo (much faster, and thus more forgiving to use with your undoubtedly weak UV light source). Do a Step Wedge Test to determine proper exposure, rather than random guessing. I like Permaset SuperCover for opaque inks for dark garments. Just be sure to keep it properly hydrated (a blob should easily slide off a spatula), else you will experience innumerable and confounding problems trying to get a good print. Water base ink loses a surprising amount of moisture to the screen emulsion and air while in use.

I print one or two days a week, according to what orders I have gotten. This is sort of a DIY POD approach ... which is a bit insane when one considers the time to setup and clean screens. As with most things, you pay with your time, or you pay with money. Still, if one does not have too many designs to support, it is doable. If you keep it simple and don't offer style/color choices for each design, then it might work to print in small batches ahead of demand, and thus involve less busy work ... YMMV

It is a learning experience, and every mistake is a lesson learned and step forward ... as long as the mistakes are small relative to your $ and moral support.

Enjoy
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks NoXid, I appreciate you taking your time to reply!

I've just been continuing research online to find what kind of intro level screen setup I should buy. I'm thinking of one or two screen/clamps for a tabletop setup, maybe something like https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/792141021928757550/
As per most people, I don't want to spend too much yet still want a decent bit of kit.

I really like the idea of an opaque waterbased ink. I was going for plastisol before but it feels too heavy and always cracks - I want to provide something that's quality and will last for as long as possible. I was looking at Ryonet comet white and have heard good things on here about matsui and permaset.

I might be going on a bit now and not sure if this should be in the intro section but -

From looking online it appears a good mesh count for waterbased would be around 160 depending on how detailed my art is?

Might also get a flash drier... you say you use a heat press - do you reckon this is equally as good for small runs?

For the printer to make the positives and the UV curing for emulsion, I think for now I will take my screens to a local printer and get them to do it for me as this will start to push things out of budget.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,550 Posts
For printing on dark garments you pretty much need to have a flash unit so you can Print / Flash / Print as needed to get opaque coverage over a dark fabric. This flashing isn't long or hot enough to cure the ink, but just enough to dry it so another hit of ink can be printed on top of it. (To cure ink, have to get it up over 320F for a bit of time. It is possible to do this with a flash unit, but it is a bit tedious, and one can scorch garments if not careful. A heat press will not scorch since one sets the temp at 335F rather than setting the shirt under a very hot radiant heat source for an extended period of time.) Still, many people do cure with their flash unit, so start that way and see if it works out for you. You can always add a heat press to your shop later. You can't really use a heat press for flashing when Print / Flash / Printing, so best to get the flash unit (not to be confused with an infrared tunnel/conveyor drier) if you can only get one.

There are two approaches (besides discharge) to printing on black/dark garments. The most common approach is to underbase the entire image with a high opacity white ink, and then print the various colors over that with regular inks (inks that on their own would work fine on white/light garments, but are too translucent for direct use on dark garments). The other way is use high opacity ink of the desired color directly on the garment with no underbase.

The Ryonet Green Galaxy Comet White is a very easy to work with opaque white. It's reasonably priced and cleans up very easily. It is not quite as opaque and bright white as Permaset SuperCover White, but (at least in the USA) is much less expensive. It does get tacky/sticky when hot, so needs to cool well between flashes when Print / Flash / Printing. I am not convinced that it is as durable as Permaset ... but there are always trade offs, so don't let perfection keep you from "good enough for what I'm doing right now." The SuperCover line from Pemaset has many colors, whereas Comet White is the only opaque Green Galaxy color, so colors other than white in GG would require underbasing on dark garments.

I started with 156/160 then moved to 200. Anywhere in that range should work out reasonably well. Going with the higher end might allow more control of how much ink you put down, but might also lead to more Print/Flash cycles. For non-opaque inks, I think 156 is too open and lays down too much ink. But YMMV, and either way it is a matter of getting a feel for what works for you and what you are doing.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top