Are you psyched about trying out a printing business this year? Or maybe you are looking for a new hobby at home? Whatever reason it is, we find the printing process exciting and the experience fulfilling every time a design is successfully transferred on shirts, mugs, tumblers, and many more. It is even more exciting if the design is according to our taste and preferences.
Printing as a business or hobby cannot be stressful as doing online selling. In fact, it can be as enjoyable as baking a cake, but this won’t make you wait until something in the oven puffs, so that’s a plus point.
Many people find printing a good business for starting a career because its use can match all seasons as long as your designs are flexible. Some find it as their stress reliever, for nothing beats the happiness of seeing your design, your very own creation and expression of yourself, transferred on something tangible.
You can find a lot of reasons for starting up a career in the printing industry, either you work from home or on a site. With a small amount, you can be the CEO of your own business; especially today, almost all people are on social media where the advertisement is free! Who knows that a simple hobby can bring you a fortune, right?
So, if you like to learn more about printing, which process fits your personality? And what materials will you need? Keep on reading. If you can make it through until the last page, you can even have a bonus on this great idea.
What is Printing?
Many of us might take printing for granted but imagine life today if printing had never been invented. We would not have books, magazines, posters, cool jackets and shirts, and anniversary mugs and Christmas tumblers would not exist! In what more effective way can we announce to all people that the person beside you is yours without these cheesy couple shirts? So, what is printing, you ask?
Usually, we define printing as a technique for applying a certain quantity and pattern of coloring agent onto a surface to form a body of text or an illustration under pressure. But you don’t have to worry about the process in the modern period because applying pressure to transfer designs on a surface became easier and less dependent on the machine. These processes symbolize an important development that may ultimately replace the other processes.
In other words, reproducing texts and illustrations, in black and in color, on a durable surface, and in the desired number of identical copies can be called printing. In fact, the printing process is so significant that it has become known as one of the most important inventions of our time. It drastically changed the way society evolved.
Before the inventions of audiovisuals, printing became a quasi-monopoly of the transmission or storage of information by many printing presses worldwide. It created many authors known in different places and helped in the spreading of information. However, technology hits hard that most printing press lay low and printing business resort to a whole new way of reinventing business as usual.
The printing that most of us know nowadays is now centered on transferring images and text on surfaces like t-shirts, hoodies, pillowcases, mugs, tumblers, and anything personalized. It follows different processes depending on the type of printing you want. It is the new and considerably profitable printing method that allows anyone with the materials to do the job in their workplace or the comfort of their home.
Popular Methods of Printing and How Does it Work?
Now we’re talking about your idea of printing but are you aware of the varieties available in the market?
Knowing the type of printing you want will save a lot of your money, especially if you are on a budget. The different types of printing come in different ways of performing them, using materials that are limited in one method only. They might produce similar output, but knowing their performance differences will help you get more customers if you aim for a business.
Many different printing methods range from non-heat transfer to a combination of heat and pressure. Knowing where you will transfer your design and the quality of the print is important. It will help you determine what type of printing you will pursue.
The type of textile printing used is often based on a number of considerations, from print runs to durability. But good news! We can manage your worries. In this article, we trimmed the list for you from a wide variation down to a simple list of methods that passed the review of most consumers and businesses.
Here are a few of the most popular and commonly used methods and their differences.
1. Screen Printing
Among the most popular printing techniques used by a range of companies, big and small, for printing designs is Screen printing. This method is also known as Silk Screen Printing because, as the name permits, silk is used in the process. The traditional screen printing method is stenciling, but nowadays, it incorporates different techniques and is already evolved.
What do you need in Screen Printing?
A fast and efficient screen-printing process begins with gathering the necessary materials. Here is a list of the things you need to prepare.
- Clean screen
- Emulsion Ink
- Transparency (film) of image desired
- A table where you can lay your fabric and print onto it
- A place to keep all your tools and test fabrics
- A place to put your prints/printed materials
- A bucket of water to wash your hands
How does it work?
Now you may gather all the materials needed and set up the workplace completely; you can now start your masterpiece with the few steps below:
- To start, the printer takes the intended design on the finished product and prints it out onto a transparent acetate film. You will use this to create the stencil.
- Coat screen with photo-sensitive emulsion. It would be best to do this in an area not well lit, and while the emulsion is drying, keep the screen out of light because light-reactive emulsion will harden when developed under a bright light.
- Take transparency and place on the outside of the screen, right side down, with clear tape. Locations on screen vary due to placement on textile - place screen in exposure unit or in direct light to expose emulsion. The light hardens the emulsion, so parts of the screen covered by the design remain in liquid form. (Note: If the final design includes more than one color, you must use a separate screen to apply each layer of ink. To create multi-colored products, the printer uses his skill to design the stencils and line them up perfectly to ensure a seamless final design.)
- After emulsion has been exposed, remove transparency and take to the wash-out sink. Here gently rinse out the entire screen- the emulsion where the image was will completely wash away and any excess emulsion that could run into the image while drying. It leaves a clear imprint of the design on the screen for the ink to pass through. After, rinse set screen aside to dry.
- Clear packing tape works best to go around the inside of the screen to prevent ink from running into the edges of the screen - which would go through - and to preserve screens. At this time, pin-holing is also done. Pin holing is carefully checking the screen for specs where the emulsion was missed or washed out and is not part of the image. Cover pin holes via block out, tape, or emulsion pen.
- Take screen to press, set in, line up (T-squares work nicely), center and screw in. (Note: There are three types of the press: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic. Manual presses are operated by hand, meaning they’re quite labor-intensive. Semi-automatic presses are partially mechanized, but still require human input to swap over the items being pressed, while automatic presses are completely automated and require little to no input. Whichever is available, this part is for pasting the screen carefully and in tacked so it will not move once the squeegee runs through.)
- Take desired ink and spread across the screen below the image. Take squeegee (squeegee should span just slightly larger than the image’s width) and pull ink through the screen. The best results for pulling squeegee are at almost a straight up and down angle. It would help if you did a test pull first to check for any discrepancies etc. Take textile and place on the platen for desired placement and continue with print.
- Depending on the type of ink used, curing processes will differ. Be careful removing textile from the platen as the ink will still be wet. Set to dry or heat cure. Curing PVC (plastisol) ink generally takes 30 seconds at 320 degrees.
Some prefer to save more in screen printing and tend to be more creative. Instead of buying ready-made stencils, you can actually make your own through the simple steps below.
Materials You need for making Silk Screen:
- Wooden frame
- Fabric for textile printing. (It should be mesh fabric to allow the ink to pass through, although it could also be recycled synthetic fabric, such as muslin or organdy)
How to make your DIY silk screen?
- Cut a piece of fabric the size of the frame and leave an extra 3 to 4cm each side
- Fold the excess fabric over the frame and pull it as tight as you can.
- Staple the fabric in one of the corners of the frame diagonally. Staple along the edges of the frame and keep the fabric tense. Leave a space of a few centimeters between each staple.
- Secure the staples in place by hitting each one a few times with the hammer
- Using the paintbrush, apply some glue over the front of the frame to secure the fabric in place
2. Dye Sublimation Printing
While traditional printing has its style, a more convenient way of printing is used: the sublimation process. Hold on, although the name suggests a critical concept here, you might be surprised how this printing method can save your energy in preparing the materials needed and the printing process. Still, it can also buy you more time on Netflix.
Sublimation printing is a process that first involves printing onto a special sheet of paper, then transferring that image onto another material (T-Shirts, mugs, pillowcases). Using a machine, the ink is then heated until it transfers to the target material.
You might want to know, but in scientific terms, Sublimation refers to the transition of a substance directly from a solid state to a gas state. This process takes place when specific temperatures and pressures are applied. It skips the liquid form in the usual transition of bodies in science. So, what do you need in Sublimation Printing?
Equipment and Materials
- Sublimation Printer
- Sublimation Paper
- Sublimation Ink
- Heat Press
- Computer & RIP (Raster Image Processor) Software
How does it Work?
Before you begin, take note that sublimation printing is quite special in nature. Don’t think that you only need a heat press once you already have a printer and paper at home that you use for schooling. You cannot use a simple paper and printer for sublimation printing. The magic will only work if you will use materials specially formulated for sublimation printing. Even the target material where you will put your design must be appropriate because the time and heat degree should match the material.
So, once you already have the materials and equipment you need, you can begin in step 1.
- Download or create a design in any software you prefer (photoshop or a similar program)
- Once you are happy with the image, mirror it so it will transfer correctly onto the target material.
- Print the design on the sublimation paper through the sublimation printer.
- Press the design on the material of choice using a heat press. To avoid dislocating the design, you can use heat transfer tape and paste the design on the material. Make sure that it is clean and properly placed.
And there you have it! Your customized shirt or mug is now ready to be used. Well, after you let it cool. Sublimation printing compared to Screen printing is a time and energy saver. You just need to give a budget in gathering the materials and equipment needed.
3. Heat Transfer Printing
Alright, the process in this type of printing might ring a bell but hear out the difference because this sounds a save in the pocket than sublimation printing. Heat transfer printing is another printing method. With heat transfer, also known as digital transfer, your design is printed onto transfer paper (not a sublimation paper). Then the ink thermally transfers from the paper to your fabric using heat and pressure.
The difference between a usual sublimation printing and a heat transfer lies in the type of paper used. When run through the heat press, heat transfer paper makes the design an added coat on top of the fabric or material. The result is similar to those souvenir shirts you can buy in souvenir shops.
Business-minded people often choose heat transfer printing because the heat press material is cheaper than a sublimation material. When you decide to push doing a heat transfer printing, you will need the following:
Equipment and Material
- Inkjet Printer
- Heat Transfer Paper
- Inkjet Ink
- Heat Press
- Computer & RIP (Raster Image Processor) Software
How does it Work?
Similar to the process of Sublimation, follow the steps below:
- The design will be printed to a special transfer paper which can imprint sharp designs and images. This time, You can use your usual and natural-looking printer.
- The garment is then loaded into the heat press, which stretches the garment, allowing the inks to adhere to the fabric easier.
- Here are some tips in setting the time:
- Inkjet Transfer Paper: 14 – 18 seconds
- Dye Sublimation Transfer: 25 – 30 seconds
- Digital Appliqué Transfer: 20 – 30 seconds
- Vinyl Transfer: 45 – 60 seconds
- The transfer paper with design will be placed on the part of the garment or object where you want to print the image and secure it in place firmly.
- The heat press will now hold the transfer paper and the garment together until the ink melts and transfers to the garment.
- After about 15 seconds, the garment is removed from the heat press and is set aside to cool down.
- Once everything cools down, the transfer paper is removed from the garment or the object used, and you will have a crisp, full-colored design that is long-lasting.
I bet by now your weighing scale already showcased the difference among the methods above. At the end of the day, your choice of printing method should consider your goal, whether you’re here for business or for a new hobby.