What is discharge printing?
Discharge printing is a print technique used to print on t-shirts. It is a water based ink when printed has a softer feel than traditional plastisol. There are special agents inside the ink that remove the actual dye in the shirt fabric, leaving behind the color of the ink in the design. The print becomes part of the shirt. After the shirt has been laundered, you don’t feel the print whatsoever.
Why not print every shirt with discharge?
You may be wondering why printers don’t simply print discharge on all the shirts since it feels so soft. Cotton. It has to be cotton. In addition to being cotton, the garment has to be dyed with a certain process for the shirt to be dischargeable. All American T-shirt Co. will guide you to a shirt that has good results based upon our printing experience. Also, any embellishment process should be a combination of the shirt and art. This suggests that if you are printing on soft thin cotton t-shirts, discharge may work for your design.
The magic happens in the heat.
For screen printing operators, the print coming off the press versus the shirt at the end dryer can be night and day. The reason for this is the discharging of the black dye in the shirt doesn’t happen until the shirt is deep into the tunnel of the conveyor dryer. This is a very critical time and temperature to achieve the desire result. See the image below.
Is discharge right for me?
Discharge is a great option if you plan to sell shirts in a retail or online environment. Match this application with a soft style cotton shirt and good design and you will have a winning combination. Your customers will appreciate the extra comfort and sure to be in their rotation. This process is a great solution on dark bodied shirts to avoid the heaviness of a standard plastisol print.
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Mike Hoey is the Business Development Manager at All American T-shirt Co. He has 30 years of experience in garment embellishment production. He has worked for Adidas, Delta Apparel, and is a military veteran having served in the 82nd Airborne Division.