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Hey guys. Do you have any tips on printing ove the zipper on a zip up hoodie?
I would love it to be smooth, but ive seen some hoodies, that MUST have been printed before the zipper was put on.
What about a slight groove in the Platen, to kinda of submerge the zipper abit, so it can be "flat"
Thanks for the help!
{ wow only ONE speeling mistake! Gonna be a great day!}
 

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ph0yce said:
If it was me, I think it would look really cool if you could cut your transfer in half and press one half of the hoodie right next to the zipper, then do the other side.
I think the original poster is talking about screen printing, not transfers.

But that does seem like a good advantage over screen printing, being able to press closer to the seams. Although places like cafepress/spreadshirt sell zip up hoodies and they both don't get near the seam or do those across-the-zipper prints, so maybe there is more to it.

I haven't seen this done well with screen printing yet. I would be interested to learn if there was a technique.
 

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Many screen printers have a platen used onlu for this purpose. Just take a router and cut a grove down the middle. Make the groove bigger than the zipper as you really want it to drop into the slot. The other trick is to use a well used screen that is a little loose. Even with these techniques you can only do so well. If the design has lots of fine detail, or is a multi color design, with tight registration, you will never get it "perfect".

Don't forget to put tape over the zipper. Cured plastisol on a zipper is a pain in the butt to get off.
 

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Any other suggestions on how to do this? Or even better, does any one officially know how the larger companies do it? If anyone knows how this is done please share!
 

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This string is 2.5 years old! Action Engineering (and others) makes hoodie pallets these days with grooves down the middle to accommodate zippers. We have not messed with this on our auto, but on the manual, you can use mouse pads, adhere them to the pallet maybe 3/4-1" apart (using two mouse pads or one cut in half depending on the size of your pallets and image), place the hoodie on it with the zipper so that it falls into the space between the mouse pads, and voila, a makeshift zipper platen.
 

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Dan that is a good tip, but what about printing over the front pockets of zip up hoodies? I printed some zip ups yesterday, and the ink would either build up thick or not print enough around most of the pockets. As far as dealing with the zipper, we just used a smaller squeegee and printed down either side of the seam instead of cutting grooves or using the mousepad method.
edit: we were printing a design that was 18" wide x 26" long.

 

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even with a well made/positioned jig, the variences in each sweatshirt/zipper will make a perfect job everytime nearly impossible, one tip that helped me was to use distressed artwork whenever possible. I know with customers this isnt always an option...but whenever possible...
 

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Wait you can't just heatpress it on over the cloth? Even with an incision over the zip and covering the zip with heat tape? Uh oh :( I was hoping to do that...
 

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Dan that is a good tip, but what about printing over the front pockets of zip up hoodies?
That's a great question, that I don't know how to answer. We've had decent results from using a super soft squeegee over pockets with a slow print stroke. Regardless, it's inconsistent, and cleaning the print side of the screen often to reduce the ink build up is essential.
As far as dealing with the zipper, we just used a smaller squeegee and printed down either side of the seam instead of cutting grooves or using the mousepad method.
Yes, yes, we've also created some squeegees for dealing with stuff like this. On one job, we removed a 1" section from the middle of a squeegee. I forgot what it was for, but I seem to remember it working! I have no idea how something like this would be handled on a heat press though except to use two different pieces aligned on either side of the zipper...
 

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If you use platen tape you can build up the platen (several layers of tape) and using a razor blade cut out a grove for the zipper. If you need you can place a piece or strip of paper over the zipper it self to keep ink off the zipper. This is time consuming but it will work.
 

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Couldnt you set the image on the screen with the zipper part knocked out? or perhaps place something on the screen to fill the zipper area while printing? As for pockets, you would have to make the pocket area level with the rest of the shirt perhaps fix a platen with a groove where the pockets are like the zipper groove?

Ha! I just realized this post is older than my kid. Well Seeing that its 2 years later... Is there a correct answer?
 

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I have the action engineering zipper pallet and it does not work very well. Just thought I'd put my experience with products that don't work on here. It is very hard to do without building up ink around the area of the zipper and I don't want anyone else taking a loss for purchasing a platen that doesn't do what it is suppose to.
 

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I would agree. We just purchased the zipper pallets for our M&R Sportsman hoping it would do the trick and it is very inconsistent. It is definitely better than printing on normal pallets but we're having issues with the ink not printing on the sides of the zipper. If it's not placed exactly perfect there are print issues. We spent almost $2k so it's kind of disappointing.

They advertise "If you're trying to accomplish an absolutely flawless over the zipper print, then this design is a must." - It is definitely not flawless so be cautious. Our big issue is that many of our designs have large ink deposits that go across the zipper region. These do not do well. It's better to do designs with distressing in them as you will see streaks on one side of the zipper.

I just purchased some neoprene that we're going to add to the pallet to see if that will help. We've custom made pallets with about a 1/4" of foam on top and that worked well but it was for our manual press which doesn't do well for multi-color 100+ piece runs.
 

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I always just cut the tops off of two cardboard boxes and glue them onto the shirt board with the machined (read: perfectly straight cut) ends inward, leaving a groove in the middle for the zipper. Same effect as using a router to cut out a groove in your shirtboard but doesn't damage the board, important if you don't have any extra shirt boards laying around. If the cardboard is heavily corrugated, though, it can affect the smoothness of the print.

... and this method, like most of the others mentioned, isn't perfect.
 
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