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The Future of Special Effects in Screen Printing

(July 2010) posted on Wed Jul 28, 2010

This month, Trimingham looks at creating special effects on garments and gives advice on how to achieve the desired results.


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By Thomas Trimingham

Separations This type of heat-press application is similar to foil, but the adhesive will be on the transfer itself (or the backs of the rhinestones on the transfer) and not printed onto the shirt. A very common practice is to print the garment with water-based inks, cure, and then apply the transfer to the garment. The layout of the stone transfers shouldn’t be too precise. If layout is critical, then the map you send to the transfer supplier should be from a final print, not a digital file. Mapping from the print ensures accurate placement when the transfers are created.

Production The garment is printed, cured, and then laid onto the transfer machine. The transfer is then carefully positioned and pressed into the shirt. The transfer is then cold-peeled.

Gel printing
In recent years, gel has become more of an overprint that will gloss or shine up an underprint, rather than a thick glob that is melted onto the shirt. The thicker style of gel that is commonly used on boys’ shirts to look like mud or goop is typically printed through a thick stencil made with capillary film. In the case of an overprint, the garment is printed, overprinted with the gel (use mesh with a low thread count), and then cured to gloss up the print (Figure 5).



Art Overprinting is simply a matter of knowing how the ink will look and then creating an extra layer in the art that represents the gel layer that will, in turn, create the shiny area.

Separations You can proceed as normal with separations once you make an extra layer for the gel overprint.

Production Make sure you have a flash left at the end of the cycle for the print before you overprint the gel. Printing gel on top of wet ink causes the ink to bleed and can reduce the gel’s gloss.


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