Want to print with plastisol ink, but still get that super-soft feel on the garment? Get ready to rock the world of screen printing with some pro tips and techniques. We're about to take it to the next level.
METHOD #1: USE A SOFT PLASTISOL INK
Do you crave soft prints? Strap in and get your hands on ink with a rebellious attitude. Soft plastisol inks like FN-INK™ are the name of the game, packed with pliable resins that'll make your prints feel like pure velvet on the garment. But hold up, not all prints are cut out for this level of softness. If you're going for badass sports shirts that can handle the heat, you'll need ink as tough as the players. Those athletic inks with less pliable resins will take a beating and keep on shining. But when you're after that gentle touch, FN-INK™ is your ultimate partner in crime.
METHOD #2: HIGH MESH COUNTS
It's time to push the boundaries with higher mesh counts. The higher, the better. Why? Because a thinner ink deposit equals a softer feel. We're talking about mesh counts ranging from 200 to 305, combined with a hard-as-nails squeegee, around 80 durometer.
But here's the deal; this method won't give you that invincible ink layer that clings to the shirt's fibers. So, after a few washes, don't be surprised if your print starts rockin' a vintage effect. Those rebellious shirt fibers might break free. This method is the way to go if your customer digs the vintage, worn-out look. If they want vibrant colors with a soft touch, there are other methods to nip the fuzzies in the bud.
GETTING RID OF THE FUZZIES
Smoothing prints is a breeze thanks to the arsenal of tools at your disposal. A favorite is a trusty iron. Here's the deal: after flashing the print, simply glide the iron back and forth over the shirt and the ink. The heat from the iron will work its magic, pressing the fibers back into the shirt and melding them with the ink. The end result? A print that's smoother than silk and softer than a gentle caress. Oh, and if you've got a heat press in your shop, that's a solid option too. And if you're looking for top-of-the-line equipment, the Stampinator is the ultimate champion for the job.
But wait, there's more! Another way to push those rebellious fibers back into the shirt is by using a smoothing screen. Here's the lowdown: choose a screen with a mesh count of 230 or higher. Coat it with emulsion and expose it without any imagery. Once it's exposed, set it up on your press and use it right after flashing the ink. Now, here comes the secret sauce: apply a lubricant to the screen. It could be a curable reducer or good ol' mineral oil. For the smoothing screen, opt for a more rigid squeegee to ensure every fiber is pressed back into the shirt, leaving you with a print that's unbelievably smooth and outrageously soft.
RELATED: 3 WAYS TO GET A SMOOTH SCREEN PRINT
METHOD #3: INK ADDITIVES
We have some secret ink additives that'll make your prints feel like pure rebellion. These additives transform your plastisol ink into a smooth, badass force to be reckoned with. Imagine ink resins like the durometer of a squeegee. The durometer of the squeegee will dictate how flexible it is. A 70 durometer squeegee would be like regular plastisol ink. FN-INK™, on the other hand, would be more like a 65 durometer squeegee: it’s more pliable and can flex farther. A soft hand base is like a 60 durometer squeegee. It’s supposed to give a ton of flexibility. The ink will be super soft.
And here's a little secret just for you: you can even add a curable reducer to your ink for an extra dose of softness. Though this is not a dedicated soft hand additive, it’s, as Bob Ross would say, a “happy accident.” The soft feel when using a curable reducer in the ink is an unintended byproduct of reducing the ink’s thickness.
METHOD #4: DISCHARGE BASE
Now, this option is for the true rebels out there. Print a discharge base as an underbase and let the softness conquer all. But listen up, only some garments can handle this technique. If you're taking the plunge into this rebellious territory, make sure your shop is armed with a conveyor dryer. Discharge ink releases some wild stuff during the curing process, and you don't want to mess with that without the proper protection.
METHOD #5: GARMENT CHOICE
It’s no secret that not all shirts are made equally soft. Two popular cotton shirts are carded open-end and ringspun. A carded open end is more economical, but has a bulkier feel and isn’t as soft. Ringspun cotton is much softer because it’s made of softer threads.
When choosing garments, make sure the garment has the soft feel you want. You can take every precaution to make a print buttery soft, but if the garment is rough, it won’t have the desired effect.
Now you've unlocked the secrets of creating soft hand screen prints with plastisol ink. Remember, it's all about trial and error. So go out there, embrace the chaos, and embark on your own path. Let your creativity run wild and create those soft prints that'll make the world want more.