Brief Introduction of Printing
As a leading China clothing manufacturer, we have worked with all kinds of printing over the years and have used various printing methods to complete branding on our clients products. Wholesale clothing suppliers will usually have limited options but clothing manufacturers, like ourselves tend to work with many different methods. Garment manufacturing also allows you to be more specific on your print placement as printing takes place before the panels are sewn together. We will describe below some of our more popular printing methods.
Screen printing is the most popular printing method and is incredibly durable, often outlasting the garment.
The technique involved using woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to produce the desired print. The screen stencil forms open areas of mesh that convey ink on to your garment by pressing through the mesh using a squeegee.
As the squeegee is move across the stencil, wet ink is allowed through the mesh opening and on to the garment to apply the print.
Screen printing is very cost effective, especially for larger production quantities. Usually a printer will charge a screen set up charge for the stencil, or will absorb the cost in to the unit price of the printing, providing they know your required quantity.
Screen printing is most effective on natural fabrics as they absorb the print better than man made fabrics. That is why cotton blends are very popular for screen printing.
PUFF OR 3D SCREEN PRINTING
The process for this is identical to that of screen printing except the ink has an additive that reacts to the heat which causes it to expand and there for having the 3D effect.
DTG (DIRECT TO GARMENT) PRINTING
Direct to garment printing is a newer form of printing and really started taking traction over the last decade. This method can be compared to using your home or office printer but using printers that are designed to print on garments and not paper. DTG printing is less durable than screen printing but has the advantage of having no colour or gradient restrictions, along with no screen set up charges. DTG printing is popular for small production runs and printing pictures or complex designs. Before DTG printing, the garment is sprayed with a pre-treatment liquid that helps bind the print to the garment and increases the quality of the print. The graphics are then prepared (high quality graphics must be used to achieve a high quality print) and the garment is loaded in to the printer. If you are using a dark coloured garment an additional step is taken where a base of white ink is printed first. The printer then gets to work before a heat press is used to seal the print. Again natural materials such as 100% cotton are most suitable for this method as a pose to man made materials.
To consider using this print method, your garment should have at least 50% cotton in the composition.
Sublimation combines heat and ink to embed the ink in to the material. This allows for a completely unrestricted print in terms of design or size. The whole garment can be printed and any colours or gradients are possible. Firstly, the design is printed on to a special paper. The ink turns in to gas once brought under heat which combines with the fabric to embed itself and become “part of the fabric.” You will be unable to feel the print and the effect is permanent and will not fade or crack over time. You will see this method of printing commonly used on garments such as football shirts. In contrast to screen printing or DTG, this method of printing is only suitable for polyester garments or polyester dominant blends.
HEAT PRESS TRANSFER
The name sums up this printing method. Heat is used to transfer a vinyl print on to a garment. You print your design on to special vinyl paper and use software to cut the outline. After the excess vinyl is weeded you place the garment under a heat press to seal the vinyl on to the garment before slowly pulling off the backing to leave your printed garment. Heat press is cheap and has no set up cost but is not a very durable print. We usually recommend using this on a polyester based garment as an alternative to screen printing and we always avoid using this on cotton based garments as the quality is much better on a screen print unless a special effect from a print is required. Examples of these are:
Reflective transfer – This is a dull siver/grey film that reacts when light hits it to produce a bright and very visible silver light. This is very popular on performance wear and is used widely in fashion wear.
Flock print – This uses natural or synthetic fibres of cotton, wool etc which are applied to a coated surface to give a velvet feeling texture.
Your final choice of printing will depend on clothing suppliers options, your desired look and the material you are using for your garments. If you have any other printing options that are not mentioned here please get in touch with us and I am sure we will be able to assist.