Flock Printing – Everything you need to know about Flocking
What is Flock Screen Printing?
Flock Screen Printing or Flocking is where we apply color, adhesive and deposit many small fiber particles (called flock) onto a t-shirt or apparel surface. Flock is made from natural or synthetic materials like cotton, rayon, nylon or polyester. It adds a velour, fluffy, velvety like texture and is a great way to enhance the feel, color and overall appearance of a garment. Flocking will really set your apparel line apart from the rest. Contact us today for details related to screen printing flock on t-shirts.
Everything You Need To Know About Flock Printing
The majority of specialty screen printing t-shirts techniques utilize a series of inks to create their signature design. Flock printing, however, is one of the only screen-printing methods that alter the texture of the print itself, adding a tactile and eye-catching quality to a vast range of materials. In addition to printing clean and crisp on all material colors—even opaque fabrics— flock printing creates a touchable design that shows off on an air of professionalism and style.
The process of flocking involves layering a collection of microfibers onto a coat of adhesive ink. Designers can approach flocking in a variety of ways, utilizing different lengths and textures of flock as well as methods of curing and layering. Flock printing is a helpful tool for everyone from sports team uniform designers to car engineers.
In this guide, we’ll cover the different styles of flock printing, how flock printing works on different types of fabric, and determining if flock printing is right for your next screen printing project. Available in vibrant colors and a range of textures, Thrive Screen Printing can produce wholesale levels of flock-printed apparel with intricacy and rapid turnaround times.
What is Flock?
Flock—or the fluffy material adhered to materials during the flocking process—is a collection of fibers often made up of cotton, polyester, rayon and nylon. While cut flock is all the same length, milled flock is a mixture of natural fibers of differing lengths that have not been altered. Cut flock is used for projects requesting specific lengths of flocked designs, ranging between .3 mm up to 5 mm.
Trends and History of Flock Printing
Some historians say that the technique goes back thousands of years when fibers we brushed across a simple adhesive to change the nature of a garment. Flock made its first major appearance in the American screen printing scene in the mid-20th century and has stood the test of time until today. Local sports teams began adding these small fibers to the numbers of their uniforms for a polished look that stood out from the traditional screen printing approach.
Unlike traditional screen printing up until that point, flock printing made the design stand out with distinction and felt more tactile to the touch. This tactic, therefore, was the first main special effect for screen printed apparel.
Flock printing is also incredibly versatile when it comes to substrate materials. Therefore, designers can use the process in for toys, paper designs, plastic, and a range of fabrics. Because of this, the style stuck around over the next several decades and spread throughout different industries, including for visual arts and greeting card design. Car designers even use flock to soundproof the interior of a car. This versatile method acts as an alternative lining and area with custom-fit fabric. The texture itself can be added to a range of tools and equipment to decrease friction, slipping, or add a level of comfort.
Nowadays, flock printing still appears on a range of sports and casual shirts due to its ability to make a colorful logo or number pop off the fabric. The manufacturing process also adheres the flock with such durability that the design can outlast rigorous wear on the field or on the job.
How Does Flock Printing Work?
Flocking goes beyond simply attaching microfibers onto an adhesive surface. Four distinct methods create this look, some much more scientific than others. Choosing the best practice comes down to the capacities on the wholesale screen printing factory, how many colors will appear in the design, and the intended use of the finished product. We’ll take a look at each flock printing method to unpack this interesting process.
In each form of flock printing the process typically moves through the following stages: creating a stencil, applying an adhesive to the material, adding the flock, curing/drying, cleaning off the remaining flock. Flock that does not adhere to the stencil can be removed by hand with a blowdryer or vacuum.
By far the most fascinating process, manual flocking—or direct flocking—can be completed by experienced screen printers with the proper tools. In this system, a machine outlines the design onto the item with adhesive ink. Next, the item heads to a flocking machine, where an electrostatic charge lends a hand. Negatively charged fibers of flock are sent to the grounded receiving material, such as a t-shirt or a plastic car interior. The opposite charge causes the flock to stand up straight on its one when it lands on the adhesive, creating that clean, fabric-like appearance. You can think of this a bit like when static electricity makes your hair stand on end for the moment. With the fibers all standing in the same alignment, the flock does not clump together or lay on its side.
The glue is then cured at a higher temperature than usual ink, depending on the material used. The strong the glue used in this process, the more it can stand up to dry cleaning and washing.
Manual flocking is one of the main methods for creating designs with multiple colors, depending on the capacity of the screen printing manufacturer.
Using a transfer flock is ideal for those looking to save time and money or working with difficult fabrics like terry cloth or on oddly shaped items. The flock adheres to a heat backer that can be cut digitally to the specific stencil created in the file. The flock and backing are then heated against the substrate material to complete the connection. Some designers are using the technique to replace embroidery and traditional flocking for difficult projects due to its versatility and suede-like appearance. A flock stencil can also incorporate factors like flexibility, ideal for designs added to sports or school uniforms that will get a lot of wear.
This process begins a bit like traditional screen printing by adding adhesive ink to the material in the shape of the design before it is cured and dried. Flock transfer paper in the appropriate color then lies on top of the ink and is heat pressed so that the flock transfers to the original inked design. When the designers peel away the transfer, only the flock overtop the glue remains.
Compressed Air Flocking
One of the quickest and easiest ways to apply flock is with the use of a special compressed-air flocker. A flocking gun or machine applies an even flow of flock to a surface with pre-laid adhesive. Similar to manual flocking, unnecessary flock can be blown or vacuumed away to obtain the desired look.
Flock Printing Advantages
There are many benefits of choosing flock printing for your design, especially if you’re seeking a unique look for your garment or work of art. There are a few factors to consider when choosing flock printing.
Playing with Color
Flock printing can create vibrant monochromatic and multichromatic designs. Designs can also layer colors for a three-dimensional appearance with a unique, tactile finish. It’s important to note however, that you cannot use color gradients in the same way as ink. Flock printing is best for printing individual colors throughout one design.
Adheres to Nearly All Surfaces
There are few surfaces that you cannot work with when adding flock. The varying methods of flocking even make the process easier for adding shapes and cross over seams without breakage. In addition to textiles, flocking substrate options include rubber, metal, plastic, glass and wood.
At Thrive Screen Printing, we offer a range of the most popular fonts and designs requested by industries around the world. Obtain that iconic sportswear look with outlined numbers and team names, a longer flock for more of a “fuzzy” appearance, or even a distressed flock for a unique and modern style. Our process is adaptable to the vision of each designer.
Common Uses for Wholesale Flock Printing
Flocking’s versatility and durability make it a great choice for all types of projects, especially for items that make see a lot of wear and tear. Thrive Print House can produce up to 20,000 products a day, making it one of the largest wholesale screen printing companies in the nation. Flock printing clients include sports and dance teams; uniforms for corporate, contract, and retail workers; online fulfillment services; wedding and reunion groups; and much more. Flocking often appears on t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, baseball caps, sports jerseys, tea towels, and tote bags.
How to Set Up Your Wholesale Flocking Order
Our team at Thrive Screen Printing provides personalized attention to each of our clients. We can walk you through the process of choosing your base material or apparel, flocking design, and an ideal timeframe for turnaround. As a wholesale screen printing company, we can accept projects of 24 items or more.
We also offer finishing services like folding, bagging, tagging, and labeling so that your newly flock items can hit the shelves the minute they arrive on your doorstep. Contact us today to begin the collaboration for your next project. We can guide you through the best process to make your idea a success.