Silicone printing inks have long been used for garment embellishment of performance wear. These synthetic fabrics made of polyester, lycra and nylons as well as cotton blends have continued their steady growth in the market. The end use of many of these garments is for athletic sports and as such the attributes of moisture management (wicking), antimicrobial capability and stretch are highly desired. As these trends continue, we as screen-printers must tackle some of the challenges that come with them. Now for me – I look at challenges as opportunities and in this space, you can too.
While silicone inks are being worked with in a wide variety of shops, they can still be hard to find printed in your local market. Having one more tool in your kit, especially one tailored for jerseys and other sublimated poly’s that provide an innovative look and feel can set your shop apart from your competition.
Let’s take a closer look at one major problem with these synthetics that silicones are naturally suited to solve – dye sublimation.
How many of you have printed that order of jerseys for the local team or used one of the many camo patterns available only to have them come out of the flash or dryer grinning at you. ‘Grin-through’ or ‘peek-through’ of these sublimated dyes will make your nice bright white a disaster and cost your shop big time. Even worse can be “Sarah” the soccer mom calling you after little Jonnie’s first game with pink numbers coming out of the dryer where white on red used to be.
Dyes used in these polyester, poly/lycra blends are by very nature, mobile. These garments are made by “sublimating” the dye or heating it until it is in a gaseous state to transfer onto the blank. The stability of these materials require low temperature when we embellish and launder (look at the use tag Sarah!). As long as we can keep the temperature below the activation temp of the dyes, then they will stay put.
Silicones cure at 240F, using a 1 minute dwell time is all you’ll need to provide that crisp, winning look. Some even flash and allow the chemistry to work without a dryer. Don’t forget about the underbase bleed blockers available for those stubborn colors.
Another little known fact is that silicones transpire gases, so your embellishment is working right along with the garments moisture wicking.
While you will pay more for this premium ink remember that coverage using the right silicone system is generally obtained with 30% less ink than other “poly” inks. Less expense in energy to dry and passing on some of that cost for this innovative ‘SILution” can make for a great addition to your product line.
For more information on silicone inks and applications, get in touch with us at Silutions Ink, www.silutinosink.com.
20+ years experience in the silicone industry