Easy Add-Ons to your Screen Printing Shop
If you are looking to add some excitement to your screen printing business, or find new ways to expand your offerings and make more money with little investment, these are a few great routes to go!
Adding foil to your screen printed designs is a very easy process, as we mentioned in a previous article, and requires very little investment for you! At a minimum, all you need to begin offering foil printing services is the foil itself and a heat press. You can use regular plastisol ink as a substrate to press your foil on, but the use of foil adhesive will improve your success!
If you’d like to make multi-color designs with foil elements, just mix in Foil Release Additive to the colors you don’t want foil to adhere to, and print as usual.
If you are a manual printer, printing posters can be an easy and inexpensive offering! The Workhorse Vacu-Pallet attaches to your manual press’ arm and turns your press into a flatbed press in no time.
For most of the products you would be printing, Permaset PermaPrint Premium is a great choice. It is a waterbased ink that adheres to many substrates, and can be printed through all mesh counts. We recommend 200-305 mesh counts though, as the ink is very opaque and much thinner than most textile inks. We also carry solvent and UV inks for more specialty applications.
If you want to create decals, all you would need to do is output your film with proper registration marks, print the designs, and run it through your Graphtec cutter! Software included with Graphtec cutters makes creating designs and registration marks a breeze.
If you want to focus on the fundamentals of textile screen printing and offer your customers a value-added service, water based and discharge inks are another option. Both inks are going to provide your customer with a softer-feeling shirt.
Water based inks are a great option if you don’t have a lot of control over what your customer wants printed, because it will print well on any color garment. Permaset Supercover inks are high-solids acrylic inks that provide excellent opacity for dark garments, while leaving your garment feeling very soft. If you are printing on light garments, Permaset Aqua is a great option as well. Aqua is less opaque, but has an even softer hand. It is also a Pantone mixing system, so you can get exactly the color you need based on your customer’s specs.
Discharge printing is another great option. These inks remove the dye from the cotton garment, leaving only the color ink on the shirt, meaning there will be no feel to the print after it has been washed. Rutland manufactures a great discharge system that works with their C3 mixing system, and CCI makes a great ready for use discharge & mixing system. Be sure that the shirts that you’re using can be discharged though! Most garment manufacturers have a discharge chart to let you know how well your shirts will turn out. As an example, royal blue shirts do not discharge well.
Along with the inks, you will also need to make sure that the emulsion you are using is water resistant. We really like Chromaline CP-Tex and Chromatech WR. CP-Tex is a diazo emulsion, while Chromatech WR is a pure photopolymer. If you are using a photopolymer emulsion now, the WR will act very similarly.
Specialty Inks (HD, Puff, Suede, Nylon)
Another great option is the use of plastisol additives to change the look or performance of your ink. The easiest additives to use are extender, puff, and suede; but HD additive could really boost your sales options.
One look that really excites customers is the tone-on-tone look. If you want to make a design look a little bit darker than the rest of the t-shirt, it is as easy as screen printing a clear ink onto the garment. Extender base, softhand additive, Chino base, and so on, help achieve that look. Just print the design through a low mesh screen to make sure it’s clear and you’re set!
Puff and Suede additives change the way your inks look without really affecting the way your screen room has to prepare screens. By mixing in varying amounts of these additives, you can change the way your ink looks. A little suede additive will matte out your print, while adding a lot (15% by weight) will make your ink appear to be suede. Puff additive will make your ink puff out, losing some definition but adding a little fun to the print.
HD printing is a more complicated process but creates a very cool look. While puff inks will puff out and lose definition, HD inks will maintain their shape, giving a very dimensional look to your print. With HD printing, you will not only need an HD additive, but also a very think stencil. Chromaline PHAT Film provides the thickness you need to get a great HD print, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. Be prepared to do some testing to make sure you get it right though!
International Coatings makes a great variety of plastisol additives to give your inks great effects! Be sure to check out their site to see what else they can offer!
If your customer wants their own tag on their garment, tag printing can be a very easy option. If you aren’t going to be making a lot, sleeve pallets on your press will work to hold your garment on. Use a high mesh screen and a grey ink, and lightly print the tag into your garment. You don’t want to use a strong color, and you don’t want to push too hard, because you’re trying to avoid having the print show around the back.
Another option would be to create plastisol transfers using a vacuum pallet, transfer paper, plastisol ink, and adhesive powder. Just print your design in reverse onto the transfer paper, sprinkle the wet ink with adhesive powder, shake it off, and run it down the dryer, aiming for about 300-325 degrees. You don’t really want to fully cure the design – just enough to melt the glue. Then heat press the transfer onto your garment at 350-375 degrees for 5-15 seconds. Boom! You’re done.
Once you start doing this and getting a lot of orders, it might be time to check out the ASPE RapidTag LP-1 or LP-2, a press specifically designed for printing on tags. These machines can knock out thousands of tags in an hour and cure on-board, meaning you won’t have to use up dryer space to get the job done. The ROI on a RapidTag can be very fast if you have enough work to keep it busy!