We get it – sometimes, you need to print on fabrics that have a little more give. Think leggings, jerseys, athletic wear, and all things stretchy. These garments often contain Spandex or Lycra, making them ultra-stretchy. But how can you ensure your prints stand up to the stretch? Well, that's where FN-INK™ Stretch comes to the rescue. Let's dive into everything you need to know about printing on Spandex and Spandex-blended fabrics.
THE ESSENTIAL TOOLS
Since these fabrics are all about stretch, you'll want an ink that can stretch with them, right? Plastisol ink is fantastic, but for the best results, you need a little extra stretch. Think about the adventures your garment will face – will it endure lots of stretching and tugging? If so, you'll want FN-INK™ Stretch in your toolkit. And depending on your fabric, consider using a blocker base. While 100% Lycra garments play nice, blends can be a bit trickier. That's where a blocker base like Barrier Black steps in, saving the day by preventing dye migration.
Now, with our specialty inks sorted, let's talk fabric content.
MORE INFORMATION: 8 SPECIAL EFFECTS INKS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
WHY FABRIC CONTENT MATTERS
Fabric content is key in the world of screen printing. Different blends and fabrics can drastically change your print's look and feel, requiring various printing techniques. Many fabrics out there contain Spandex – for example, Cotton infused with Lycra creates those super-stretchy tees. Always check the fabric content before diving into production. While 100% Lycra won't cause any trouble, blends may lead to dye migration. Imagine printing on a Lycra/Polyester blend; you're dealing with a mostly Polyester canvas – and you know what that means: potential dye migration issues.
Now, let's move on to the exciting part – getting those prints on fabric!
MORE INFORMATION: STOP DYE MIGRATION IN ITS TRACKS
TIME TO PRINT, THE STRETCHY WAY
For those blended garments that might experience dye migration, your first step is to lay down a trusty blocker base to keep those dyes in check. But if you're aiming for a super stretchy result, Barrier Black alone won't cut it. So, what's the game plan?
Mix FN-INK™ Stretch with Barrier Black – but be cautious with the proportions. Too much FN-INK™ Stretch and you might compromise the blocking properties of Barrier Black. The trick? Experiment. Add some stretch ink to the base and test how the inks and dyes behave based on your chosen garment.
Once you have a solid dye-migration blocking layer, it's FN-INK™ Stretch's time to shine. You can print it in several ways. If the garment won't stretch too much, add FN-INK™ Stretch to colors (up to 25% by weight). For more stretch, mix it with the base white (up to 50% by weight).
Need maximum stretch? Print FN-INK™ Stretch by itself as an underbase. You can also add stretch ink to your print colors for the ultimate stretchiness. Keep in mind how much the garment will stretch over its lifetime and adjust your FN-INK™ Stretch accordingly.
And now, the final step…
CURING THE PRINT
Curing Spandex and Spandex-blended garments can be a bit tricky. The dyes in these fabrics are set at different temperatures. For instance, poly-blends have dyes set at around 270°F-300°F. When the polyester thread heats up again, the dyes return to a gaseous state and are absorbed by plastisol inks.
Here's the kicker: some dyes in Lycra or Spandex are heat-sensitive, while others can handle temperatures up to 375°F. Lucky for you, FN-INK™ cures fully at 260°F, making it your ideal companion. Aim to keep conveyor dryer temperatures as low as possible while hitting the 260°F cure temperature. Testing is your best friend, especially when dealing with blended Spandex fabrics.
When printing on Spandex or Spandex-blended garments, fabric content is your guiding star. Make sure you're equipped to print on your chosen shirt successfully. While it might take a bit of experimentation, a dash of patience, and some testing, you'll soon master the art of printing on stretchy fabrics with FN-INK™ Stretch.