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Special Effects on Automatic Presses

(August 2009) posted on Fri Aug 07, 2009

Tips for Cutting-Edge Garment Graphics in High Volume

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Taking these variables into consideration at the art stage results in artwork that’s more finely tuned to the inks’ characteristics and capabilities, which not only makes the final print much easier to produce, but also makes it a more precise and appealing rendering of the original idea. Doing so also reduces overall cost by cutting back or eliminating reworks at the sample stage and ensuring a smoother production run with no stoppage.

Your ability to sample a special-effects-based garment design before production is a determining factor as to whether you’ll achieve success with high-volume printing. Many special-effects inks require a flash after printing when they cannot be printed last. Inks that contain blowing agents are an example. In order to achieve maximum loft and definition using high-density ink, the best approach is to stack it: print, flash, and print again (Figure 1).

You lose a screen head—sometimes two when a cooldown space is added—for every flash unit you use on an automatic press. This means that one ink color less is available for use by the designer. Let’s use as an example a 14-color automatic machine with a design that calls for high-density ink. Even if the high-density part of the design were only one color, you’d need two printheads—one flash (minimum) and a cooldown space—or possibly two. This equates to a minimum of four printheads to produce a one-color, high-density print and leaves the designer with 10 colors to work with instead of 13 for the rest of the graphic.

Adding another special-effects ink to the mix, like a second high-density color or a gel, once again dramatically drops the number of extra colors available to the designer. Such a situation becomes very problematic when printing designs that are character driven. The character-based designs for the youth market can be particularly challenging. These designs are often multicolored and call out one or more special effects. Such a situation calls for a skilled designer and color separator who can make room for special-effects inks by using fewer spot colors than would normally be available to achieve the same result.

Sampling plays a very important role here. You need to be able to print a strike-off and determine optimum placement for the special-effects screens in the print run. Determining placement is important, as it also dictates placement of the flash units and thus the position of the spot colors.


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