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Printing Processes


Printing Processes

Our aim is to continually develop and improve bespoke printing processes for short run specialist requirements.

  • We pride ourselves on our expertise and the ability to advise and provide the process most suitable to your requirements.
  • We strive to provide processes that both economically and environmentally sustainable, whilst maintaining the best quality for the purpose.
  • To help you with your choice, we have given a short description of our main processes, but you are always encouraged to contact us for specific advice.

Dye Sublimation

This two stage process uses environmentally friendly dyes together with polymer based or coated products and clothing.  The first stage is produced using digital colour printing so flexibility in the image to be sublimated is possible at very low cost.  The second stage is transferring the image to the product, the principle is that when the surface of the product to be imprinted is heated, it will begin to melt slightly, the dyes when heated turn to a coloured gas, so when the correct pressure is applied at the correct temperature the image will flow into the surface of the product.  When the product cools, the dye and product surface solidifies to trap the image inside.  This results in a waterproof, high quality imprint with the best durability of any of the processes and through the use of our own moulds and formers we can produce short runs of products at economical prices.

Best for – Flexibility of design & artwork, cost for colour imaging, cost for short runs, no set up costs, short lead time, durability, often washed products & garments.

Limitations

Products: Dye sublimation is possible only on synthetic polymers, for clothing this means that garments must be synthetic (e.g. polyester) or a synthetic blend, for blends, the higher proportion of synthetic results in a higher quality image so we recommend a minimum of 65%.  Many products and materials are also available with polymer coatings, including leather, ceramics, glass, and metals.

Images: The printing process uses 4 colours to build an image, like your colour printer at home.  This means that white is excluded as the imaging uses the white from the substrate, so dye sublimation is best suited to areas of white or light colours on products and garments.

Artwork: Using digital colour printing means that you can supply your artwork in any high resolution format.

Surface Transfer

This three stage process uses dry dyes to produce transfers for chemically bonding to almost any surface. The first stage uses digital colour printing to produce the image in a similar way to a colour laser printer, but onto a mylar sheet for later transfer. The second stage produces a white overlay to fit the exact shape of the colour print. The third stage uses a heat press to transfer the image from the mylar to the garment or product with thermally activated adhesive.  The result is similar to a printed vinyl transfer but without having to use solvent based dyes.  As with all surface prints, the print may crack, peel or fade with frequent washing and care should be taken when ironing.

Best for – Full Colour imaging on dark garments, cost for full colour short runs, washable garments, no set up costs, short lead time.

Limitations

Products: Surface transfer can be used on natural or synthetic fabrics and products of materials that can withstand heat transfer.  It is not recommended for smooth plastics, ceramics or glass.

Images: Full colour photographic images can be reproduced accurately on most materials.

Artwork: Images can be reproduced from .eps or .ai files that contain layer data.  Artwork to produce the white overlay or the required layer information can be produced from other file formats at additional cost.

Vinyl Transfer

This two stage process uses CAM cut vinyl in single colour layers, that is then either heat transferred onto garments or applied to vehicles & products using adhesive.  It is ideal for simple single colour logos, names and numbers, for example on sportswear and for vehicle signwriting.  The process can reproduce excellent quality in up to 3 layers of different colours.  In addition to coloured vinyl, metallic film, glitter effects and flock can be used to create striking designs. As with all vinyls, when applied to garments the transfer may crack or peel with frequent washing and care should be taken when ironing.

Best for – Low cost for simple logos, text & numerals, 1-3 colour or special effect designs, sportswear, short runs, short lead time, washable garments.

Limitations

Products: Can be used with natural or synthetic fabrics, on any vehicle and most solid surfaces including plastics, metal & glass.

Images: Images are built up with single colour negatives (shapes), each layer is either opaque or transparent (up to a maximum of 3 layers for heat transfer), gradients and shades are flattened to base colours so reproduction is stencil like rather than photographic.

Artwork: Text & numerals can be produced from specified fonts, logos and images must be supplied in .eps or .ai format with vector and layer data intact.  Artwork to produce the required vector and layer information can be produced from other file formats at additional cost.

Screen Print

This process uses inks pushed through a silk screen onto the garment or product.  Simple images are built up in layers of separate colours, similar to the digital process but through use of the screens are able to be produced in higher quality.  There is no limit to the number of colours that can be layered but each layer will need an individual screen to be produced.  This process can be economical for large runs and very economical for single colour large runs.  There is a minimum order of 100 identical units for screen printing and costs start at £30+vat per screen, per run in addition to the per item cost.

Best for – Cost per item for large volumes, simple designs.

Limitations

Products: Most suitable for plain clothing for example t-shirts, other products can also be screen printed however costs for specialist inks and shaped screens vary.

Images: Simple designs give the best quality for price, complex high quality designs can be produced however they require more screens and more processing.

Artwork: Individual layered artwork for each screen in vector format is preferred, this can be produced from other digital or physical formats for additional cost.

Embroidery

Traditional close stitch embroidery is carried out using computerised machine embroidery.  We can produce embroidered designs as standard containing up to 4 colours and more by request. Embroidery can be directly on to garment or used to produce fabric badges for transfer onto garments. Only high quality Madeira silks are used to give brilliant bright colours.  In addition to breast logos, embroidery can be positioned on sleeves, collars, trousers and as larger designs on the backs of clothing.

Best for – Luxury Image.

Limitations

Products: Most suitable for heavy cotton fabrics, suitable also for synthetics but not recommended for direct application to thin fabrics such as sports shirts.  Heavy fleece, specialist materials (e.g. ski jackets) and leather can be embroidered however garment disassembly and refinishing may be required at extra cost.

Images: Text and simple logos can be easily reproduced.  Complex logos or those containing small detail or text are possible but photographic designs are not suitable for embroidery.

Artwork: Text can be reproduced from specific fonts, for all other designs a digitised CME file is preferred (e.g: .pes or .hus) or digitising can be done from a high resolution image at extra cost.


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