The Print Cafe of LI Website

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


           Knowing The Different Processes For Apparel Printing

 

   
 
 
 
Digital Printing

Digital printing is also known as Direct to Garment (or DTG, for short). The best analogy for describing digital printing is an inkjet printer: The garment goes through the digital printer and the design is “printed” on the surface of the garment. The ink is applied directly to the garment, much like ink to a page in an inkjet printer. A computer controls the printing process, and your image must be transmitted in a digital format.

There are no setup costs for digital printing. It is ideal for short production runs but can get expensive with large production runs. The expense for large production runs lies in the fact that digital printing is not automated like screen printing and requires that someone be present at the machine for each garment that is printed.
With digital printing, the ink layer on the garment will be thinner and the resulting colors may not be quite as vibrant as you would see with screen printing. The definition of the final image on the garment may not be as sharp on darker background fabrics, either.

The result is not of the same level of quality you would find with screen printing; however, much more detail can be captured in a digitally printed garment, and it works far better than screen printing when transferring a photographic print onto fabric. Digital printing also supports all-over prints far better than screen printing, and, because such a thin layer of ink is used, the garment remains soft after printing.
One of the key characteristics of digital printing is speed: there is no delay involved with creating screens and setting up the automated system as is required of screen printing. At The Print Cafe of LI if you need a small quantity of shirts right away, then digital printing is the number one option.
 
 


 
 
Screen Printing
In traditional screen printing, the design is applied to the garment using a screen (think stencil) based on your artwork. Ink is applied to the garment through the screen, and each color used in the design requires its own screen. Every color used is then applied one at time through its respective screen.
Because multiple screens are needed, the setup costs for screen printing can be a bit on the expensive side. However, that cost ends up being distributed over the garments you have printed. So, the more garments you have printed, the lower the cost per garment. The screen printing process is automated, which reduces labor costs once the initial setup is completed. Note that most printing The Print Cafe of LI will have a minimum order for screen printing because of the setup costs involved.
With screen printing, you can expect a thicker layer of ink and more vibrant colors. Overall, the quality that results from screen printing is very good compared to that of digital printing. And screen printing supports novelty inks, such as metallics, UV-sensitive, and glow-in-the-dark, and is also capable of successfully achieving a far wider range of colors than digital printing.
However, screen printing may not be able to capture quite as much detail as digital printing.
 

 
 
 
Sublimation
 
So how does sublimation work? Well, sublimation printing uses heat to essentially bring ink and fabric together as one.
First, a design is printed onto special paper. The inks that are used turn into gas when brought under heat, then combine with the fabric and permanently print onto the fabric. The effects are permanent and less prone to fading, as the ink is embedded in the fabric or substrate rather than simply laying on top like a normal print.
The process is almost like a tattoo, but instead of for your skin, it’s for your chosen product. The heat opens up the pores of the fabric, then with the applied pressure the ink cools and returns to a solid form.
The result is a permanent, full colour image that won’t crack, peel or wash away from the substrate. The process allows the ink to go from a solid to a gas without turning to liquid, a bit like dry ice. The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled by pressure.
This quick and effective digital print method is growing in popularity for smaller batch orders and those designs that rely on the details. Sublimation printing is also known as ‘all over printing’ as it allows you to choose a design that can literally go from seam to seam.
 
 
 
 
 
Embroidery
 
Embroidery is the process is turning graphic design into needle and thread art for application to the fabric. These designs can be simple, single color or multi-color intricate pieces of art.
If the fabric can be laid flat then it can be embroidered. (Which leads to the question of how are hats embroidered? But, that is the subject of another post).
Of all of the methods of fabric embellishment embroidery is generally considered to add sophistication to any work or club apparel.
What is the process?
 
Digitise the image
Custom embroidery is primarily an automated process that converts a digital image into data which guides the operation of the embroidery machine. For this to happen, the first step is to digitise the image. This may include lettering, a logo or a visual image. Digitising converts the image into stitch data which the embroidery machine can understand.
Once digitised this is sent to the embroidery machine.
Teach the machine what it has to do
The embroidery machine is then instructed which design we are working on. The correct threads are loaded onto the machine and the machine taught where to find each colored thread. So for example, if the design includes some red and the red thread is on station 12 then the machine has to be taught that when stitching the red areas use station 12.
Stabilise and hoop the garment
During the embroidery process, the garment is held in a hoop. This is a 2 piece frame which is sandwiched over the garment to keep the fabric secure during the sewing process.
Test
A test sample is stitched out using the selected design, the required thread and on fabric which closely matches the finished article of clothing. There is a wide range of stabilising options and different design and fabrics require different stabilisers.
Stitch out
When we are happy that the digitised design is correct and loaded on the embroidery machine, the garment is correctly hooped and secured, the correct threads have been selected and the machine taught where to find them, then we start the embroidery onto the finished garments. This may be a run of 5, 10 or 100 items. This is when the industrial embroidery machine earns its keep. Providing the correct maintenance is kept up to date, these machines are designed the work all day every day without missing a beat.
 

 
For More Information On Any Of These Processes or Products Go To www.printcafeli.com or SMS Text 516-253-4040


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