5 Tips for Screenprinting on Tri-Blends

For many people, their favorite t-shirt is a tri-blend: extra soft and durable. Though slightly more expensive than a plain cotton t-shirt, tri-blends have taken closets by storm. However, screen-printing on tri-blends can be challenging.

Created only in 2006, tri-blends typically consist of a 50-25-25 mix of polyester, rayon, and spun cotton. Tri-blends, though partially synthetic, offers a winning combination of softness and durability, while also wicking moisture. They also tend to drape better than regular cotton, but appear more textured offering a vintage look. Can’t afford a collectible vintage rock band t-shirt? Not a problem, buy a tri-blend reproduction.

We’ve listed five key tips for screen-printing on tri-blends to help you get your project started:

Avoid Flashing Designs on Tri-Blends

Because the rayon in tri-blends can melt under high heat, it’s better to choose a design that does not require flash cures. Though there are many techniques to choose from, one of the best ways to avoid scorching the rayon in tri-blends is to use a classic wet-on-wet approach.

If you choose to flash-cure your design with an iron or dyer, make sure the heat is lower to avoid dye-migration or fabric disintegration. After you remove your t-shirt from heat, make sure it cools down before adding more ink or colors.


Distortion during Screen Printing on Tri-Blends

People generally choose tri-blends because they have some stretch when wearing them. However, tri-blends’ stretchiness can make it more difficult to make crisp images, often distorting or stretching out images.

To avoid distortion on tri-blends, make sure to take extra care and choose a printer that has an upcharge. Alternatively, simply take more time when removing shirts from your table to avoid marring your design. On the upside, you won’t need to use a slip-sheet, which is can be a piece of paper or similar material placed under your design inside of the garment before printing.

Choose Your Design and Mesh-Count for your Tri-Blend Screen Printing Project

Which design you choose for your project can determine if the outcome of your project will be successful. Given rayon’s heat intolerance, it’s important to choose a design that does not require thick ink, which takes longer to flash cure and can scorch your tri-blend.

To further avoid scorching, design your graphic to use fewer light colors on a large area. This is because lighter colors are more prone to dye migration when overheated than darker inks, which better camouflage printing issues.

But don’t stop there – using a higher mesh count with high-tension in your screen itself will transfer less ink to the t-shirt’s surface. This approach also helps to reduce flash dwell times.

Choose the Right Dye for the Project

To avoid expensive mass production issues, experiment with ink. Which ink you’ll choose depends on your design goals.

Unlike other fabrics, tri-blends better absorb water-based ink, which can complement their typical softness. Apply a thin layer of one color of low-bleed ink and add color layers as desired.

You can also use plastisol ink, which will result in a bolder and brighter look. However, given tri-blends’ fibrillation, or fiber length, plastisol can lead to an uneven ink texture. Tri-blends present their own unique difficulties, so take your time testing different inks to better help you to finalize your screen-printing project.

Don’t use an Underbase for Light or Dark Fabrics

While traditional polyester fabrics require an underbase depending on the color of the polyester chosen, tri-blends offer different challenges. Underbases are generally used for polyester fabrics; however, they require high heat when flashing your design onto your fabric.

Avoid both one-stoke white and gray underbases, which tend to be thick and require long flash cures. Even if you only cure your design briefly with heat, ink could still migrate on your fabric once it’s packed and ready to ship since heating ink turns it into a gas.

Though different screen-printing techniques pose different challenges, screen-printing on tri-blends generally allows for fewer steps than printing on rayon or polyester. If you want to screen print on tri-blends, consider these guidelines from Clothing Shop Online for a more straightforward design process!

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