When printing with metallics, it’s possible to get different effects with the same ink, depending on whether you print directly onto a garment or on top of an underbase. Dave Smith, operations director at TOTShirts, deconstructs the process

(1) This shirt is number 11 of 16 different designs that we created as a boxset to showcase various speciality printing processes. This was created as a tool for our sales team, so that we could show uninitiated clients what could be achieved with metallic inks. We decided that these would be created in a conventional format to ensure efficient repeatability. It isn’t a technically difficult print to produce.

(2) We printed this design on a black Fruit of the Loom Sofspun T-shirt (61-412-0).

(3) All screens were standard aluminium box section, pre-stretched to 22cm. We used New Hybrid Technology PWB Blue emulsion. This produces an EOM of 10 microns above the mesh, which creates a smooth stencil and sharp resolution. The screens were imaged with a Spyder 2 DTS with a halftone 75lpi at 600dpi with wax ink.

(4) The white discharge underbase was printed first using an MHM Synchroprint 4000 automatic textile press. We used Union Bright White ink for good opacity and a soft feel. The base is a halftone, which fades out from behind the metallic ink in certain areas: this allowed us to show the difference between the metallic ink printing directly onto a garment and sitting on top of a base.

(5) After printing the base white we printed Wilflex Liquid Silver metallic ink, which is easy to print and gives an excellent metallic finish. We then added Screen Colour Systems Aztec Gold, which gives a decent metallic finish and will pass through a 49 mesh. We used Rutland NPT SF2 low-bleed ink for the hi-white – it’s an effective value ink.

(6) The base and metallics were printed through a 48S mesh, which holds decent detail but still allows for large pigment ink to pass through the apertures. The Hi-white was printed through a 62T mesh.

(7) Our print process was as follows: white discharge base; flash and cooling station; metallic silver; flash and cooling station; metallic gold; flash and cooling station; hi-white. We used an MHM/ Calmatech Flash Cure unit for the flashing, and a Sanco Cleanburn Twin Burner Dryer for curing the prints.

(8) We completed production within one working day, but getting the design refined and approved took considerably longer!