I’m going to teach you the 5 most important money saving hacks i’ve learnt to reducing your screen printing production costs when starting a clothing line or t-shirt business. These tips will ultimately make you more money.
Hit a dead end? Looking for the perfect inspiration for your next t-shirt tag?
Finding the right inside t-shirt tag design is challenging. Not only is the inside tag designed to give your customer the essential information, it’s also an attention to detail that reflects who you are as a brand.
This is where clothing brands really set themselves apart from one another – in their attention to details. Most clothing companies will stand for something, whether that’s mass manufacturing, bespoke creations, limited editions, high end design or specific genre graphics, whatever it is, you can generally tell what kind of label it is by what kind of label they use.
When printing light coloured inks directly onto dark coloured garments with opaque color inks, like plastisol inks, the colors lose their intensity. To get around this, it’s best practice to first print a layer of white ink, known as an underbase. The underbase is printed first then dried to the touch with a heat gun or flash-curing machine before the rest of the color screens are printed. By using this method the colours will hold their vibrancy.
When screen printing multiple colors it can be very hard to align the print areas of each screen perfectly, even if the screens are aligned perfectly the white ink underbase can bleed a little, you would then see hints of white where there shouldn’t be. For this reason the underbase artwork is reduced in size slightly, this is called “choking” the artwork. Choking the underbase gives the screen-printer a little bit of room to completely hide the underbase so it’s invisible to the naked eye.
Did you know that some factories electrify t-shirts to create a flock t-shirt graphic? Me neither!
There are three ways (that we know of) to produce a flock print on a t-shirt or garment. In this definitive designers guide to flock printing we will go over the differences, art requirements, available colors and best practices for flock printing from a graphic/apparel designer’s point of view, but before that, what is flock or flocking?
Back in the 80’s apparel design was all about bright fluorescent (also know as neon) prints or bright fluorescent fabric colors, fast forward from the 80’s and a lot has changed. These days the clothing market isn’t flooded with brightly colored, in your face, neon colors, rather fluorescent colors are subtly used in graphic designs to draw your eye to a specific part of the design. Continue reading “Fluorescent Ink – The Definitive Apparel Designers Guide” »
The 3 main screen printing ink types and what you need to know
My number one tip for creating garment graphics is to start with the end product in mind and work backwards from there. Having said that, before actually diving into designing the graphic you need to commit to understanding the different screen printing ink types available to you, as it will then allow you to achieve the design style you have envisaged without wasting valuable time.
A classic example of knowing your craft (and something that actually happened to us), was one design that had a very fine, distress texture throughout it. We wanted the print to feel soft to touch, so we specked the artwork to use water base ink. When printed, the delicate details dried up in the screen, rendering them basically invisible, it appeared to be a flat color design with only the roughest sections of the texture shown.
A better solution would have been to make the texture twice as thick, so that even if the finer details dried up a little it wouldn’t completely disappear or become one large ambiguous splotch.
In this master class we will take a look at the different types of ink for screen printing. There are three main types of screen printing ink that all inks are derived from. So it won’t take long to learn the key points and knock your next t-shirt design out of the park! Continue reading “Plastisol, Waterbase, Discharge…Oh My!” »
If the phrase “time is money” weighs heavily on everything we do in business then it makes sense to put every task we do under the microscope, evaluate it, and then proceed to find ways of speeding up or cutting out those tasks. Saving time on repetitive tasks is the key, and for me the greatest time saving came when I re-engineered our humble job sheet.
When I was employed as a pre press graphics artist at my local screen printing shop I was in charge of not just creating the artwork to go on the garment but also breaking down the artwork into individual colours to produce films called “positives”. These films were then sent to the screen technician to produce the screens that the printers would then use to create the images we see on most printable garments. It was my job to explain to the screen printers exactly how the artwork should be printed. Sounds easy, but there’s a lot of specific information requested by customers or clothing companies that I need to interpret and then ensure it gets carried out so we don’t end up with thousands of misspelt garments. Anyway…to cut a long story short, I developed a quicker way to produce the screen printer’s jobsheets by setting them up in Adobe Illustrator, creating symbols of the ink types and static information in a way that I could just click and drag it to the job sheet. After using the jobsheet for a couple of days I found it greatly sped the whole process up, but still needed refining. Over the next few weeks I kept tweaking and refining the design till I came up with what you now see below.
The job sheet contains all necessary information:
Screen printing inks and printing process to be used
Screen mesh to use
Print order for each positive (very important on some jobs)
An area for extra information from the client
Job due date as well as an easy way for our screen printers to visually see the urgency of the job.
Print placement (example: front chest, back hem, left sleeve or collar etc)
Type of garment, color, and fabric type
Most importantly the job number so we can save all the films and job information in a bag for later use if the customer needs more prints.
All in all, it’s a lot of work for one job and when considering our print shop had multiple automatic and hand printing machines keeping up with the workload was tough.
If you own a screen printing facility, or are in fact the ‘art guy’ at your print shop I feel your pain, that’s why I’m giving this jobsheet away for free. My hope is that it saves a lot of time for you too. Most importantly this jobsheet gives the printers all the crucial information they need to print the job right the first time.
This free resource contains:
100% Editable AI and EPS files (For use with Adobe Illustrator)
P.s. I thought I’d mention that the job sheet works flawlessly with any of our Vector garment template packs. Jobsheet + Vector templates = Even more time saving. Just add the templates to the Adobe Illustrator symbols library then you’re ready to click and drag the garment templates straight into the job sheet. Here’s a quick video on how to add our templates to the symbols library.