Sunday, August 17, 2014

5 'Other' Ways You Can Imprint a T-Shirt

T-Shirts are a big part of my business and the main reason for that is they are such an effective promotional tool.  After all, a T-Shirt is literally like a blank billboard. You can fill it however you choose, and your message will be seen by anyone who comes in contact with the shirt.  If the shirt is imprinted a clever or memorable message, it will be noticed.

However it's also easy to stay in what I call the 'One Color on a White Shirt' mindset. I'd say the vast majority of orders that any printer prints on a given day will be of the one ink color variety.  And that makes sense, as one color imprints work perfectly fine. Your target audience still gets the message and the per shirt cost gets kept down, so everyone wins.
But there are other imprint techniques available that can transform a simple T-Shirt into art, and if your budget allows, you may want to at least consider one of the following techniques for an upcoming order:

Four Color Process

This print method literally uses 4 Process Inks (as opposed to spot color inks) -- Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black to achieve a multi-colored design. The transparent inks are applied directly on the shirt in a dot format that uses half-tones and the blending of colors to achieve a look with many colors, shading and fine details.  High Resolution Screens are needed due to the nature of the inks and expect some significant art prep. But whether it's a design like the one shown above, or one with a photo, 4 (or full) color process is the technique to use.



Heat Transfers

This is a great alternative to 4 color process screen printing when small quantities of multi color designs are needed.  There are some limitations with this technique, but for many full color designs this is an option worth considering. Basically you're printing a full color digital image onto a piece of vinyl transfer material. That material is then heat transferred onto the shirt via a special press. You pay more per shirt, but you don't have an screen charges. Need a dozen shirts with a complex art design for an event next weekend? Your most cost effective option is a transfer imprint.  


Vintage Soft Hand Screen Printing

This technique prints with a washed down appearance and vintage quality, especially when combined with distressed artwork.  To achieve this look a soft based additive is incorporated into the ink mixture and the design is printed without the use of an underlay of white ink.  The National Football League has done a terrific job marketing vintage apparel with versions of team logos that were used in past decades. This is the imprint method they use.  


Foil Ink

This is an overlooked, yet terrific technique to really make a logo shine (literally). It involves an adhesive, that looks like a white paste, getting screened onto the shirt. Then a special type of foil is heat transferred onto the white adhesive. Run it through the dryer and you get a look like the one pictured above.  

Reflective Ink

Got an event happening outdoors at night?  Consider reflective ink.  This is an ink that literally contains microscopic glass particles.  Shine a light on it in the dark and your design really pops.

These are just a few of many imprint techniques which can help turn your T-Shirt design into something that people are going to want to wear. There are many more. If you need some help with the creative aspect of this, please contact us.