Four color process printing is a system where a color image is separated into 4 different color values (called a color separation) by the use of filters and screens. This process allows us to create a high color count design and break it down into 4 screens using cyan, yellow, magenta and black. It's a great way to achieve high detail while keeping costs low. This process works best with white or neutral color garment but can be printed on dark garments as well by using a light discharge base screen to allow color to remain vibrant.
Simulated process involves printing a series of halftone dots to create a larger overall image. Meaning, you can create an image with dozens of colors while using only a handful of ink colors/screens. It's a unique color separation process for raster artwork combined with screen printing to create or simulate a full color image with spot colors. Just like in school, when you take 2 different primary colors and mix them together you create a third color. This is the same concept, but instead of mixing the colors together you are taking fine detail halftone dots and overlaying them to make 3rd party colors for each overlay.
Spot colors are printed using a single, pre-mixed ink color, rather than a combination of the four basic colors in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) printing. You can print any number of colors this way but they are typically going to be solid or fill pattern vector images vs photo realism or gradient based designs. This makes spot color ink printing ideal for consistency, particularly on those important elements like logos or solid fill graphics.
Plastisol is a semi liquid substance which can be converted into a solid plastic simply by heating, consisting of particles of synthetic resin dispersed in a nonvolatile liquid. Plastisol ink pigment sits on top of the fabric rather than integrating into it. It's historically one of the most common printing processes because it's user friendly and can work on just about any type of fabric. The down side is that its typically a thicker print. This is one of the main reasons water-based ink has such a soft feel and is becoming more and more desirable for printing onto fashion blanks. If you are looking to create soft custom t-shirts, water-based ink will give you the softest print possible.
Water-based ink is used by taking a clear base and adding pigment. The water evaporates in the drying process leaving just the pigment color. The ink pigment then migrates into the fabric allowing for a very soft hand feel. While this is great for light garments, water based ink is not very opaque so it does not work well for dark fabrics unless you are using a base white or add the discharge agent to active the pigment and dye the threads of the garment.
Discharge ink is a water based ink that has an activator added to it to release the dye in the shirt. This activator, or discharging agent, brings the shirt back to it's natural bone color. Pigments can then be added to the ink to essentially re-dye the fabric to a new color. This process works best with 100% cotton or cotton heavy blends. We don't suggest printing discharge on any fabric less than 60% cotton. Water-based ink is typically a better option when printing on fashion blanks because the hand (feel) of the ink is much softer compared to other print methods. If done right, you should not be able to feel the ink on the garment once it’s been washed.
Hybrid printing, while not the official industry term, is a process that we like to use for more complicated fabric blends. We will typically discharge dye the base screen and print soft hand plastisol on top. The benefit is you get nice vibrant colors along with a soft print becuse the base color integrats into the fabric. This is typically used with blended fabrics where using 100% water-base is not possible because of the fabric content.
Shimmer ink is a plastisol based ink where shimmer flakes are added in to give a sheen or sparkle effect. This is a fun process and can give a nice unique finish. It works well with most fabric types, although high detail images should be avoided. This process requires the use a low mesh to allow the flakes to pass through the screen. High detail images need high mesh screens which typically dont allow the shimmer flakes to pass all the way through the mesh onto the garment leaving only a partial effect.
Puff ink is a common print in the fashion industry and one of the first specialty inks in the world of screen printing. Puff ink is a plastisol that has been modified with the addition of a heat reactive foaming agent. The ink expands when exposed to high temperature heat as the garment is cured. It's first introduced to the garment through a screen applied with pressure. The more volume of ink added, the higher the puff will be.
Algae Ink is a unique, innovate specialty environmentally friendly printing ink. It issimilar to many traditional inks, except that the pigment component is complete bio-based and renewable. Approximately 6-10% of the ink is bio-based pigment. Carbon black is a pigment used within the ink, textiles, plastics and rubber industries. Itis derived from heavy petroleum such as FCC tar, coal tar or ethylene cracking tar. It islisted as a class 2b carcinogen according the International Agency for Research onCancer (IARC). Thus, carbon black is hazardous to human health, causesenvironmental degradation, non-biodegradable and is produced using finite resources.
A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. This is typically used to test a new design or product before going live with the launch to ensure that size, colors, placement, and dimentions are correct before running production. We charge a flat rate of $250 per design for prototyping which includes up to 3 garments per design.
Hot market printing is all about getting shirts printed and into stores as quickly as possible. Some companies will have you print and go directly to stores, while others will have your shirts go to their distribution center. There is tremendous pressure to get shirts out and selling quickly.
High-volume manufacturing is exactly what the name implies — producing large numbers of an identical part or product in one run. Superior Ink is built for high capacity runs and we love to build brands from concept to launch. We are very proud that we can handle high volume product here at our facility. We have 3 industrial screen presses that can handle jobs that are up to 10-15 colors in one design!