August 18, 2016

Apparel Printing Styles

Apparel Printing Styles

Yes, there’s more than one way to print a shirt.

About Our Inks & Processes

At Threadbird, our standard printing style is called Premium Standard. In technical terms, we use a discharge underbase with soft hand inks on top. It’s better than what you get by default anywhere else. But, you do have the option of choosing from any of the following printing styles. Some restrictions apply. Read more to find out, or send us an email.

Premium Standard

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At Threadbird, there’s nothing “standard” about our standard printing process. You should not have to pay extra to get a great quality print. We use a special hybrid style of printing in which we use a discharge underbase with our special soft inks on top. This allows us to create a strong print with bright colors while keeping the printing really soft (even on dark colored shirts). And it only gets softer after you wash the shirts! We have won multiple awards for our quality with this style of printing and it’s something we offer at no additional charge to you. (Note: Unless you are trying to achieve a particular effect, we only recommend discharge on 100% cotton shirts.)

Threadbird printing premium standard style 3


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Discharge printing is the process of bleaching the dye out of the shirt, leaving its natural color showing through (usually a tan color). We can also PMS match discharge ink, however results vary depending on shirt color & brand. The only major downside with this kind of apparel printing is that you must wash the shirts before they take their “no feel” state. We have been working with discharge inks for over 10 years now.

  • Threadbird printing discharge style


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Waterbase printing is very similar to discharge printing but for white and light colored shirts. The inks are dyed into the fabric. When used on dark color fabrics it gives a strong faded/vintage look. Keep in mind that when using light ink colors on dark shirts the ink colors will be tinted by the shirt color. For example white inks on a black shirt will cause the inks to be a light grey. Waterbase inks must be washed before they take their “no feel” state.

Threadbird waterbase sample print


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This is the traditional style of printing. Inks are thicker and rougher than our standard printing, and the ink sits on top of the shirt. These inks can be printed on any garment or fabric and work best in small print areas. Plastisol inks will be used on all 50/50 tees in place of our Standard inks.

Threadbird printing plastisol style 2

Process Printing

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This is the process that you will want to use when you have a full color design or a photograph. We can do both full color process and simulated process. Every design is different so its best that you show your sales rep the artwork and they can tell you the best way to print it. Due to the difficulty involved there is a 1 time setup fee to get your artwork ready for printing.

Threadbird printing process printing style 3

Foil Printing

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Foil is a great option to really make your shirts pop! Sheets of foil are heat pressed on top of plastisol inks. We can also mix foil with standard printing but waterbase inks must be used for the other colors being used. Keep in mind that foil does not last as long as normal printing and can start to peel after only a few washes if shirts are not taken care of. To extend the life of the foil please wash these garments inside out in cold water then hang dry. We print a similar color of ink under the foil to help make the shirts last longer when they do start to peel.