T-Shirt Printing on Lightweight Triblend and Poly-Cotton materials

One of the most popular t-shirt styles of the last few years has been the lightweight poly-cotton and triblend fabric tees.  These styles offer a more modern, and retail ready quality for your custom t-shirts.  They are really comfortable, and come in stylish colors, interesting fabric textures, and modern washes.

We have worked to develop the best strategies and techniques for printing on these fabrics, which we would like to share with you:

Consider the shirt color and ink color carefully.  Printing a darker ink color on a lighter t-shirt color requires only a single layer of ink in order to get full coverage, which results in a print that is thinner on the fabric.   With darker shirt colors, if you print a color like white, it requires two layers of ink in order for it to be a bright, opaque white on top of the color.  This results in a print that is thicker, and can weigh down the shirt fabric if you have too much coverage in the print area.

Designs for these fabrics should be either light and airy, or smaller in order to make the most of the fabric itself.  If you have a really soft, lightweight t-shirt, and then you print a giant solid circle or rectangle on it, that will weight the fabric down, and make the entire area have a plastic feel to it.  This is especially important in the case of printing the lighter ink color on the darker shirt color.  We recommend designs that have a lot of the shirt color showing through, then even large designs can have a lighter feel to them.

One of our print strategies for printing light ink colors on dark t-shirt colors is to base the inks down.  We use a specific product meant to make the inks more viscous.  This minimizes the weight of the print, and also helps to create a smoother finish.  This can slightly minimize the overall brightness of the ink color, but with two layers of ink, you still get a nice opaque finish to the print.

If you’re looking to have more of a vintage feel to the print, we can limit a light color print to a single layer of ink so that the darker shirt fabric shows through the print.  This results in a thinner layer of ink, and reduces opacity greatly for a neat effect.  This works especially well with distressed artwork, another great idea for reducing the amount of ink that is ultimately laid down on the shirt.  If you are interested in this technique, be sure to talk to us about your design and ink/shirt color choices so we can help you determine if it’s right for you and your design.  Making sure you understand the process and setting your expectations are our number one priority.

Have you used these products in the past?  What are your experiences?  We’d love to hear from you.  Whatever you decide, we’re here to help you.  Give us a call, we’d love to discuss your project!

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