There aren't many resources for screen printing on different garment styles, And Almost Nothing about printing custom zip up hoodies.
It's easy to find write ups for cotton tees, tanks and basic hoodies, but today we dive deeper into a topic that is more advanced. Here is what to expect when printing over a Zipper, a question we often receive from customers.
Screen printing on unfriendly fabrics is hard enough. Printing on a zipper is even more difficult. For screen printing to be successful, the surface needs to be uniform. Zippers and thick seams create disturbances underneath the screen for the squeegee and these disturbances make ink pool in some areas, while scarce in others, compromising the durability and quality of the print. Ink can also seep into the zipper, rendering it useless.
We do not print graphics over zippers here at Superior Ink.
We suggest that artwork be created to avoid any zippers and seams all-together. Avoiding zippers will insure a much higher quality print because the printing surface will stay flat. Graphics can be created with a break in the middle to accommodate the zipper.
A half inch distance away from the seam is all we need. Lighter inks on darker garments or any multi-color designs may lead to poor results because a base is applied and heated. Full artwork can be placed on the the back of the hoodie and the same logo can be resized to become a left chest print to avoid this problem. Additionally, half zip hoodies can be ordered and printed on the bottom portion of the garment, if it works with the artwork.
While it isn't recommended, here are the best practices to print uniform graphics for the chest of a zip-up hoodie, or for all over print hoodies.
There are quite a few limitations as far as custom zip up hoodies go. Hoodies without covered zippers can not be printed on. The ink would seep into the channel where the zipper connects and render it useless. Hoodies with covered zippers are more printable because the ink does not have to lay on the zipper itself. Printing on a covered zipper requires the use of a split pallet to try to keep the print flat on the garment, but even this method leaves much room for error. If this route is taken, Make sure that an asymmetrical design is chosen. It will be very difficult to try to line up both sides of the print with a symmetrical print because hoodies are thick and they are more likely to move during the printing process.
Heavy print designs are something to avoid because extra buildup can occur at the seam, making the print inconsistent. Designs with half-tones can reduce the amount of buildup at the zipper since there is space between each ink dot. Distressed or vintage graphics work best because they tend to have patterns that can mask imperfections during the printing process. There are no real guarantees when printing over seams and zippers. The safest route would be to print on a pullover for a full chest graphic or to adjust the artwork to fit without conflicting with the zipper.
Different ink types will have different results on hoodies and any surface you print. Read this guide to figure out if you should have your custom zip up hoodies printed with water-based or plastisol inks.