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Screen printing (also known as silk screening) is a printing technique that uses stencils and ink to create designs on fabric. Although it requires significantly more set-up time than digital printing or heat transfer, screen printing is the most economical method for producing large quantities. Commonly used on cotton or cotton blend apparel, screen printing can be done on 100% polyester using special inks and additives.
Screen printing on 100% polyester presents two unique challenges. The first is dye migration – ink discoloration that occurs when exposure to high temperatures causes dye to “migrate” from the garment into the screen print ink. To prevent this problem, use highly opaque ink or print a base layer of a barrier material, and cure at the lowest recommended temperature. The second challenge is shrinkage. To avoid this, careful handling is essential when applying heat to polyester fabric, which can shrink or burn at high temperatures.
Before going into production, allow a printed shirt to rest overnight and wash it to ensure that you have consistent coverage, good adhesion and no signs of dye migration.