Marshall Atkinson shares his tips for polyester perfection with those hoping to profit from the booming performance and athleisure sectors
Performance and athleisurewear is the big growth area in the decorated garments industry at present. These garments are made for active people, and are sold for their moisture-wicking properties. With a little know-how, your shop can benefit directly from this boom by decorating these trendy, tech apparel blanks. Learn to take care of polyester with these tips and tricks:
- There are plenty of low cure additives you can use. These make your existing inks usable so you don’t have to buy new. Follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions on the percentage to mix in. It will be by weight. Don’t guess. Use a scale.
- If you use a low cure underbase, the colours printed on top should be low cure too. Nothing is worse than having a great underbase and the rest of the printed ink sloughing off the shirt after a wash. Do it right.
- Use screens with good tension (above 30 newtons), with the proper mesh count for usage in the print. 140–160 for underbase should be okay. Not enough ink? Look at your EOM (emulsion over mesh), or maybe drop your mesh count down to a 110, 230–305 for colours, and 230 for a highlight white if you need it. Remember for colours printed over a flashed underbase, the thinner the deposit, the less flash dwell time needed. This prevents the shirt from getting too hot.
- Optimise your print with perfect pressure and squeegee angle. You want the print sitting on top of the shirt, not driven into it. If you can see your print on the press platen, you have too much pressure. A thinner deposit cures faster and requires less flash dwell time too.
- For longer runs, as your production day goes on be sure to reduce your dwell times on your flashes as your boards heat up.
- Bold, strong ink colours won’t have much of a problem with dye migration. No, you don’t have to underbase the navy or black to print on a lime green polyester shirt. Yes, I’ve seen artists do that.
Marshall Atkinson is the Professional Services director for InkSoft, and program owner for the new InkSoft Production Manager software. In his Professional Services capacity, Marshall provides coaching to shops on operational efficiency, continuous improvement and workflow strategy, business planning and strategy, employee motivation and management and sustainability.