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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have a good idea of what Threadless use to print the care instructions tag in their t-shirts?

I ask because it essentially means I (and a lot of us) have a sample of another printing method right under my (/our) nose - but that's not much use to me if I don't know how they're printed.

Vinyl? Plastisol transfer? Something else? Anyone know for sure? The only thing I'm sure of is that they're not directly screenprinted. My money's on plastisol transfer, but I wanted to make sure I'm not missing some other method that might have been used.
 

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I'm almost positive Threadless tags are not screen printed. The tags on my Threadless shirts are all peeling off. Not because plastisol transfers are bad to use, but the print is too fine for plastisol to last very long.

I'm sure they are plastisol transfers. Cheaper for them to have done too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Rodney said:
Are you sure it's not screen printed? That's what it feels like to me.
I hate saying I'm positive when I wasn't there to print it and don't know for sure how they are printed, but yes I am positive it's not screen printed.

The ink (or vinyl or whatever it is) is clearly not interacting with the fibre in the same way a screenprint does. The texture/finish is different (shiny and rubbery, all the more reason for me to suspect plastisol transfers), and the ink sits on top of the fabric.

It doesn't have a particularly different hand, but it is noticably different in other ways.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Scrap-Boy said:
can you post a picture ?
Sorry, I just assumed everyone would have a Threadless tee in their wardrobe. I'll take a couple of scans and upload them on the off chance that's enough for someone to be able to tell.
 

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Okay, here's a scan. Sorry about the cruddy quality, I didn't press the shirt first so it wasn't entirely flat when I put it in the scanner - it should be good enough to illustrate however.

The top image is the front of the shirt, the bottom is the neck label (both from an unworn Water, Just Water).

As you can see from this scan (or an actual shirt if you have one to hand), the printing on the front soaks into the fibres, whereas the tag sits on top.
 

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I'm certain it isn't vinyl....the lines are just too thin.

But it istn't screenprinting....the way it peels, if it is screenprinting, means a spectacular misprinting on every shirt...which I doubt.

Can anyone who performs screenprinted transfers speak about "peelability"?
 

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monkeylantern said:
Can anyone who performs screenprinted transfers speak about "peelability"?

When I had my labels made, the printers said to stay away from fine print, and wearability wouyld be better if there was a solid shape of some kind, with the text inside shown as the shirt material itself.
 

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I read about this in a screen printing forum. They said the process used was called "pad printing". A silicone pad picks up ink from an etched plate and transfers the image to the garment. It takes a split second.

InstaGraph makes some equipment that will do this.
 

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jrford said:
I read about this in a screen printing forum. They said the process used was called "pad printing". A silicone pad picks up ink from an etched plate and transfers the image to the garment. It takes a split second.

InstaGraph makes some equipment that will do this.
That good enough for you, black shirt? :mad:

Good post jrford.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
jrford said:
I read about this in a screen printing forum. They said the process used was called "pad printing". A silicone pad picks up ink from an etched plate and transfers the image to the garment. It takes a split second.
Pad printing is another on the list (sadly all too long) of printing methods I've heard of but know very little about.

What makes you sure it's pad printing? (I ask because with some people certain it's one thing and others certain it's another, I'm trying to be sure what it actually is).
 

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Melbourn Solmu, thanks for the quick scan.
woops! :eek: i must be the only freakin' peep in the universe that does not have a Threadless shirt.... hard to tell from the picks you posted ????

personally i'm a Hip Fan Groupie " Tragically Hip "... their shirts are only $ 10 http://www.hipbase.com/store/ . :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
There's no reason everyone should own a Threadless tee, I'm just in my own little world sometimes ;)

Unfortunately I think it's hard to judge these kind of things without something to physically examine. I think the scan proves that it's not screenprinting, but that's about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Scrap-Boy said:
have you ruled out printed vinyl yet ?
Screenprinting is the only thing I've ruled out. I don't know enough about other methods that I feel like I could reasonably be 100% sure in the case of anything else (well... it's clearly not a digital transfer or dye sublimation either).

It seems like the line work is way too fine and difficult to weed for vinyl though?
 

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Solmu said:
What makes you sure it's pad printing? (I ask because with some people certain it's one thing and others certain it's another, I'm trying to be sure what it actually is).
I can't be 100% sure but, I was reading a forum where professional screen printers hang out and caught a discussion about tagless tee's from the manufacturer's point. That is where I first heard of pad printing and when I first heard about InstaGraph equipment. It does make sense from a manufacturing point even though the etched plate is expensive to make. Each imprint can be done in a split second, the garment can easily be fed and removed by machine instead of a person and the curing process can be fully automated as well. In other words, it is a very cost effective application for high volume operations.

As far as the lettering "sitting on top" of the garment, I would guess they had problems with the curing process. Screen prints require proper curing which is what you are doing to Plastisol when you press it onto a shirt or hat.

At least, that is my understanding of the issue.
 

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Hello, I've also been searching for the same answer. I've found manufacturers that make these lables but we'd like to make them ourselves. It looks like the label is printed on to a clear film then it is heat pressed onto the fabric. I don't think it's done with a cutter as the lettering is too fine. Any ideas how it is printed onto the film, what inks are used, and what type of film is it? Any help would be great. Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
jrford said:
I was reading a forum where professional screen printers hang out and caught a discussion about tagless tee's from the manufacturer's point.
Thanks for the info, it definitely sounds like a possibility.

jrford said:
It does make sense from a manufacturing point even though the etched plate is expensive to make.
I don't suppose anyone happened to mention how expensive?

Threadless have one label per size per design - in other words at least nine different labels. On the other hand they do print in quantity (probably 200-500 per size at a guess, though it could be more).

jrford said:
As far as the lettering "sitting on top" of the garment, I would guess they had problems with the curing process. Screen prints require proper curing which is what you are doing to Plastisol when you press it onto a shirt or hat.
Anything's possible, but it doesn't seem particularly likely. All the labels have the same feature/problem, but the printing on all their shirts is fine. I'd say the flaws are inherent in whatever medium they're using.
 
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