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Different Types of T-Shirt Printing

10/8/2013 4:35:31 PM | by Anonymous


The earliest t-shirts were dated back to sometime between the Spanish America War and the year 1913 when the U.S. Navy began issuing them as undergarments. In the later part, it became common to see veterans wearing their uniforms trousers with t-shirts as causal clothing. T-shirts became more popular in the 1950’s after Marlon Brandon wore one in “A Streetcar Named Desire” after finally achieving the status as fashionable and outer-wear garments.


Printing is a process for reproducing images and text with ink on paper or cloth using a printing press. Printings are often carried out as a large scale industrial process and are an essential part of the transaction and publishing printing. The world’s first movable type of printing technology was developed and invented in China. The first movable type of printing is called the woodblock printing. Later developments with advanced technology in printing include the movable type that was first developed in China and the printing press was a more efficient printing process for western languages with their more limited alphabets that was developed by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15 century.


Printing press is a device that applies pressure to a print medium that rests on an inked surface made of movable type thereby transferring the ink. This invention and spread of printing press are widely regarded as the most influential events in the second millennium revolutionizing the way people describe and conceive the world they live in as well as ushering in the period of modernity.


The most common type of t-shirt printing is the screen printing. These printings are usually used in the small businesses and individuals to produce shirts in custom and small batches. The cost of doing the screen printing is relatively low and there is very little special equipment required for at home jobs. The sublimation and heat transfer are two other methods. The most difficult is the sublimation and generally can only be done on synthetic materials such as acrylic. As for the heat transfer, this is an easy process that is quicker than the screen printing even though the final product may not last long.


Heat transfers are usually done on white t-shirts as to avoid problems from conflict the colors even though the transfers can be put onto any color on the printer desires. This is one of the quickest methods of printing as a pre-made transfer design is simply heat and then applied to the t-shirt. It can be done at home simply using just a household iron and an ironing board though special equipment is available for large batches of t-shirts. While this is certainly an easy and quick option but is hardly the longest lasting as transfers tend to crack after time and often this will lead to fading or other degradation of the image.


Screen printing can be done with inks and mesh screens specially treated with a chemical that allows an image to be burned into the t-shirt. The screen is usually coated with a substrate which turned harden when exposed to the light. An image printed on the transparency can be placed on the screen and it will be exposed to the light causing the exposed substrate to harden while the substrate is hidden by the transparency will remain soft.


The soft substrate can then be washed away by producing an image on the screen. This screen is then placed on top of a t-shirt and the ink is pressed through the opening in the harden substrate using a squeegee. An advantage of using this method is that this equipment investment is the minimal and the screens can be washed as well as re-coated with substrate to burn a different image on the t-shirts.


As for sublimation, is the quickest and long lasting for the t-shirt printing processes though there is a limited process that can also be very costly. Generally, sublimation can only performed on synthetic materials such as nylon as the investment of the equipment will be more significant. Ink is heated in such a way that it will turn to gas and then transferred to the fabric. This process may require heating elements, special inks and substrates that can be significantly increase the cost of a garment.


Some other types of the traditional methods of t-shirt screen printing are belt printing and all-over printing machines. Belt printing machine can print designs beyond the square area in front of the t-shirt. The designs are wrapped around the shirt or they can reach the sleeves that may need a belt press to create printed t-shirts. The machine can use a belt to move the t-shirt under the screens too. However, it is more expensive because the ink deposit and registration are controlled in amounts and they do not follow the industry standards.


Another type of the traditional method is the all-over printing machine and is similar to the belt press; the all-over press can print the design all over the shirt area including the sleeves unlike the belt press. The all-over press uses one large and two smaller platforms to spread the shirt under the screens for printing. Although, it can provide a greater control over the quality of printed t-shirts that are produced but cannot fully print the design from end-to-end because of the edges of the metal plates that are clamped on the sides of the shirt and sleeves.


Aside from all these t-shirt printing machines, there are also other types of machines that use digital printing instead of the t-shirt screen printing. Industrials also have more choices to choose and print the t-shirts given the technology with modified laser and inkjet printers that can use textile inks and directly design on the fabric.

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