Screen printing over seams? Easier than you may think : )
We love screen printing our own designs because we think it’s just cool to see a garment brought to life and we can keep a keen eye on quality control.
Recently we’ve been having some fun screen printing on new products in our London studio and as some of you may know, if you’ve ever had a go at screen printing, it’s pretty unforgiving. You’re forcing ink through tiny holes in a mesh onto a garment that’s sitting on what is essentially a solid block.
If there’s a lump or a bump anywhere the ink will either flood through or not come through at all; this can sometimes happen over seams where the different sections of the garment are connected. We had managed to mitigate this as tshirts and jumpers generally have a lower GSM (thickness), fewer seams, are more flexible and the seams are softer and flatter than jackets and zoodies.
We always love to try out new products to print on and increase the range of apparel we can offer to our customers, but these can come with challenges especially with the smaller the sizes.
Most recently we’ve been starting to print our designs on to some amazing new premium hoodies and zoodies. As you can see from the pictures below they look awesome and our trademark oversized prints fitted perfectly on the larger sizes. But when we got down to the smallest sizes the extra seams just kept on getting in the way and the test prints were not terrible but were not the top quality we pride ourselves on.
We didn't want to lower the quality of print to any of our customers so we were determined to find a way to get the same quality on the smaller sizes.
After a bit of research there seemed to be a variety of techniques and materials that could be used, and for the thicker seams of our premium hoodies and zoodies neoprene looked like it would work. NEOPRENE – not a wetsuit, quite, but basically the same stuff. The quality we were looking for was its ability to adjust to the contours and effectively create a flat plane for the squeegee to press the ink through as it glides over the screen, where bumps which would otherwise stick up and disrupt the flow of ink are pushed into the material, well theoretically anyway.
After ordering some test materials our best option was the sponge version with a thickness of about 8mm, giving the material the right combination of give and firmness. To be honest we were not entirely sure how well it would work and were a little bit skeptical but we pressed ahead, carefully cut out the neoprene and stuck it onto the platen, and crossed our fingers (metaphorically ^_^) as we printed the zoodie.
After a few swipes of the squeegee it was time to see how well it had worked, so with bated breath we pulled the screen up and… well, you can judge for yourself with the pictures below. We think the quality is as good as our best prints and we look forward to shipping them out to our customers.
Neoprene is definitely a good find and it will aid us in our quest for the best quality screen prints. If we ever meet the inventor he/she gets a drink on us : )
Are you a screen printer? Do you print over seams? Tell us what materials you use in the comments below…
And if you’re not a screen printer it would be great to hear what you think about the quality of our over-seam prints
If you are one of our awesome customers send us a pic of your new zoodie or hoodie : )
Comment below and don't forget to check out our new designs!
Thanks for reading : )