Gel Printing

Gel Printing | Gel Plate Printing

Intro to Gel Printing

gel printingGel Screen Printing adds a layer of “high density” gel on top of your screen printed t-shirt or garment creating an amazing, decorative 3-D looking coating that really makes the printed image stand out. Gel printing gives your garments a shiny plastic like coating that will wear for many years. Great for numbers on jerseys or making your design really stand out. Special considerations apply so please contact us to get all the details.

Everything You Need To Know About Gel Printing 

One of the most unique features about screen-printed apparel is its ability to leap out from the fabric and create that eye-catching, 3-D effect. Gel printing is one of the top ways to create this look, layering a thin coat of gel on top of a colored design. This screen-printing technique uses a high-density gel ink to bring the design off the page by several millimeters, giving an article of clothing a solid, structured feel while making the design vibrantly stand out to the viewer.

Gel printing can either give your traditional design a 3-D coating or create the design itself with tinted gel ink. Designers turn to gel ink to create a range of special effects without having to use a more complex, time-consuming technique. This versatile process can give a tactile appearance to either the entire design small embellishments. This plastic-like coating can also be altered in a range of interesting ways, including adding glitter or laying atop a vibrant ink design below.

Many of our wholesale screen printing clients at Thrive Screen Printing benefit from gel printing, particularly for specialty garments that get a lot of wear and tear. Gel printing works perfectly on sports team uniforms, corporate logos, and events tees for holidays and other festive gatherings.

What is the Gel Printing Process?

The gel printing process itself has drastically grown in popularity within the DIY scene in the past decade. Artists are recreating this screen-printing favorite at home on apparel, paper, and decorative home items. For longest-lasting designs, it’s always best to turn to a professional screen printing company that can complete the curing process for optimal longevity.

As a wholesale printing company, our process works on a much larger scale as well. Our factory at Thrive Screen Printing can produce 20,000 items a day and ship to clients all over the world. We have the capability to handle rush orders while maintaining high-end quality and intricate designs.

When you design your gel printed item, the process begins similarly to our traditional technique. Plastisol inks are loaded into a mesh screen of a screen-printing press. The ink is then pressed down onto the fabric where it adheres to the fibers. Once the design is complete, the ink is cured and set beneath a specialty heater. Afterward, a high-density clear ink is added on top of the ink design. This part of the process uses a wider mesh screen so the thicker ink can permeate through to the fabric.

This added layer gives the design a wet quality, a bit like a raindrop sitting atop the fabric. Since this stage is added after the initial design, it can be applied to any color ink or fabric.

Benefits of Gel Printing

All of your specialty techniques serve different aesthetic and practical purposes. As you design your new piece, consider how the apparel will be worn, if you require multiple colors in one design, and the preferences of your customers or recipients. Gel printing is known for a few major pros and cons compared to other screen printing processes.

Durability

Gel printing is a great way to add an extra level of durability to your design. The sturdy gel plastic is known to last for many years, despite wear and washing. This is one factor that makes it excellent for sports jerseys and dance attire.

Versatility

Gel printing technically works with all colors since it lays atop other inks. Though you can tint the gel, it is most commonly used as a clear design on top of other colors. Consider this as an add-on that can really bring a design to life.

Timeless Style

Unlike some other screen printing designs that come and go, gel printing simply enhances the look of a current design in a simple and classic manner. It lends an air of professionalism to your own design. In other words, it will stand the test of time as screen printing trends come and go.

Eco-Friendly Process

None of the inks used at Thrive Screen Printing contain phthalates, an organic compound derived from oil. We also aim to spread our green practices throughout our company, from office organization to shipping. Many of our garments can also be recycled by textile recycling organizations.

Fun Design Features 

These special gloss effects can transform a design on a shirt or sweatshirt, whether you’re printing an artistic image or outlining letters. 

Special Effects

Layering clear ink atop a printed design can make the art appear reflective and more vibrant. The added plastic layer makes the color jump from the fabric, magnifying the color itself. You can also use the gel ink sparingly in areas where a clear effect could add to the structure of your design. 

Enhance Font

Add a unique level of professionalism with gel printing to enhance lettering on your apparel. Gel ink can be added to the border of your letters, overtop all of your ink, or as a special border that highlights your logo. 

Extra Shine

If you’re looking to enhance a version of your current product, giving clients the option of an extra luminance provides variety for different preferences and price points. Thrive Screen Printing works directly with fulfillment companies who request a wide range of client-customized screen printed-items.

Typical Applications  

We serve clients all over the world with their screen printing needs, helping designers from large corporate offices to local organizations. The smallest wholesale order we can take on is 24 pieces, making this a cost-effective option for those looking to work directly with the manufacturer. Our clients include corporate offices, colleges, sports teams, summer camps, newlyweds, family reunions, and event organizers.

Work Uniforms

Do you have a team of contractors making in-person calls to customers? Gel printing can make your company logos more durable and looking professionals longer.

Dance and Cheer Uniforms

The extra level of gloss works well on stage or under the lights. The flexibility required of dance and cheer uniforms requires a screen printing design that can stand up against extreme demands.

Baseball Caps

As an alternative to embroidery or flocking, gel printing makes a team name or logo stand out with style. Layer gel on top of plastisol ink to make the colors pop off the fabric.

Gel Printing Vs. Other Specialty Screen Printing

We offer six different varieties of screen printing, utilizing today’s top techniques to get the specific look you envision. Not sure which printing technique is right for your project? Let’s take a look at your other options to know if gel printing is right for you.

Plastisol Printing

As we mentioned above, gel printing is often used in tandem with plastisol prints. Plastisol ink is the most commonly used technique in the industry, plastisol binds to fabrics in a way that makes the color stand out with vibrancy in comparison to its water-based competitor. Plastisol ink can also be layered on top of wet inks without blending together, making it incredibly versatile for different designs.

HIgh-Density Printing

This technique is the most similar to gel printing. A higher-density of ink goes through the mesh screen to create a 3-D design on the material. While gel printing is often clear or tinted, high-density ink is black or which, leading to a matte finished as opposed to a glossy look.

Flock Printing

Similar to gel printing, flock printing creates a 3-D quality to screen-printed designs. Flock—or a collection of microfibers—adhere to an ink or adhesive to provide a smooth and tactile design. This process is just as durable as gel printing and makes a great alternative for a layer of three-dimensional design.

Foil Printing

Foil printing has been growing in popularity over the past three decades as metallics become more prevalent in a range of apparel designs. A layer of foil is pressed onto an adhesive design, creating a bold, reflective look to the finished product. Since this technique requires more care in the long run, gel printing is a great alternative for products that can’t be hand washed.

Metallic Ink Printing

Though this process has a similar result to foil printing, it utilizes gold or silver-tinted inks to provide a reflective finish to a design. Though metallic ink is not as durable as gel printing, it is a popular special effect for a unique look.

Typical Cost

Though gel printing is a bit more costly than simpler designs, we offer wholesale package pricing to get the best possible price for all our clients. The cost of each order changes based on the number ordered, screen printing technique, and materials. We pair smaller orders with large batches to get your cost of materials as low as possible while staying on your desired schedule.

How To Order

Ready to get started on your next project? Our professional team of experts at Thrive Screen Printing can walk you through the design process from idea to packaging. Our minimum number required for a wholesale order is 24 pieces. In addition to printing, we also offer finishing services such as labeling and taggings, folding and bagging so your products are ready for customers the moment they arrive.

Jump in by filling out a request form to speak one-on-one about your unique vision. We can answer any questions you have about whether gel printing is best for making your idea stand out.