High Density Screen Printing – High Density Printing T-shirts
What is High Density Printing?
This is a special ink and treatment that will give the garment the look and feel similar to that of a flock. High Density Printing is sought after for a unique finish.
High Density Screen Printing Explained
Special-effects screen printing continues to expand as technology changes and designers push the limits of what inks can accomplish. High density screen printing may be one of the most impressive methods in the apparel design scene today. When printed with this technique, the ink rises off the fabric, providing a three-dimensional look unattainable with traditional methods. Similar to the way flock provides a touchable, tactile effect, high-density printing pulls this off with only ink itself.
The stacked quality of high-density ink makes the design look as if it’s carved from plastic and integrated into the material. Designers and consumers are drawn to this new innovative method for a few reasons. First of all, it is easy to control how high your design stands off the fabrics and where you want to continue building. Puff paints expand on their own, making it more difficult to control the finished product, where high-density printing allows you to add in the directions you choose. You can also layer high-density ink on top of traditional ink for a textured design.
In this guide, we’ll go through how designers achieve that signature high-density screen printing look, high-density screen printing’s top applications, and the pros and cons of using this method for your next screen -printing project.
How Does High-Density Printing Work?
There are many different ways to achieve the high-density ink look on your apparel. Home designers find unique ways to layer the ink by air-drying between each cost. Wholesale screen printing companies like Thrive Screen Printing use the latest equipment to move each piece through a line of machines that create an identical look for each shirt, sweatshirt, or other branded item. Our system allows us to create up to 20,000 items a day, even with complex techniques like high-density printing.
The High-Density Screen Printing Process
The versatile high-density screen printing process uses a range of ink varieties. The ink adheres to several different types of cotton-based fabrics that can withstand the heat of the curing process. Unlike other varieties, this process can be completed by using gel, plastisol, or water-based inks depending on the desired end result. Playing with gels and plastisols allows designers to play with matte or glossy finishes, for example. The final look provides a sharp and clean design with smooth or crisp edges so that the design pops off the pieces of clothing.
Large-scale high-density screen printing generally follows the same process. Designers choose a tightly woven mesh screen to pass through a very thick layer of emulsion to the design area. As with all screen printing, the first layer of ink is then pushed through the stencil and screen with a squeegee. Designers typically use a soft squeegee with easy pressure to avoid altering the look of the design as it delicately adds each new layer.
Once the first layer adheres to the fabric, the machine carries the item to be flashed so that it is strong enough to receive another layer of ink. The nature of the sturdy ink does not expand in all directions, allowing a clean base layer for adding more of a three-dimensional quality.
The machine then returns the item to the original station for another layer of ink before it is cured again. This process typically repeats three times until the ink raises up to ⅛ of an inch off the fabric.
Once the maximum number of layers create the desired look, the design is cured at a higher temperature for a longer period of time. This ensures that all of the ink is solidified for a lasting look without wearing down over time.
High-Density Ink Colors
High-Density Printing is relatively versatile when it comes to playing with colors, finishes, and textures. Many designers prefer this look if they require a vibrant opacity to the colors, especially for designs that need to be read from afar, such as sports uniforms. The high-density screen-printing process does not work particularly well for half-tones, however. You can, however, use high-dimensional printings above or as the base of the additional ink layer, depending on the process and material.
On the other side of the spectrum, high-density printing pairs well with clear or gel inks that are typically too subtle without significant texture. You can layer similarly colors inks and fabrics that blend into the background in other techniques.
Fabric options are also quite versatile for high-density printing, as the thinker layers take to inconsistent fabrics like corduroy. The fabric, however, must be able to withstand the curing process as well as be sturdy enough to hold the multiple layers of dense ink. Typically, cotton or primarily cotton-based fabrics are best for the multiple curing process. Otherwise, you run the risk of scorching or wearing out the fabric in the process.
The Top High-Density Printing Techniques and Uses
Creative designers have found unique ways to take advantage of this stacked, three-dimensional process. There are many looks achievable with typical ink, but since this ink is raised significantly above the fabric, it offers a stronger final product. Here are some of the top reasons designers use high-density screen printing for a unique finish.
Dark Fabrics with Dark Ink
In many of the standard screen printing techniques, such as traditional plastisol printing and gel printing, we recommend pairing fabric colors with inks that will stand out. Since the extra layers of ink provide a sharper edge to the design, it is easier to pair similar colors and still get a strong finish.
The most common look for high-density inks is a matte finish. Designers will use a plastisol ink for this appearance, providing that clean and crisp look to the design. A matte finish features sharp, clean edges around the letters or logo as well. A glossy finish with plastisol inks is a sign that the ink was not properly cured.
Gel inks that go through the high-density process create a high-gloss finish. There are many creative ways to incorporate this look into the design, especially for things like water droplets or ocean-wave elements. The ink still appears wet when it maintains this glossy look. Choose from a range of colors or clear gel ink to obtain the signature appears of your design.
High-density ink may be a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional embroidered design or logo as well. The raised look still gives the appearance of a separate look, but the use of ink allows companies to create far more batches that are more durable in the wash.
Glitter and Flecked Inks
You can also find many high-density inks with additives such as gold and silver glitter or thicker flecks of metallics. Some designers prefer this method over the usual metallic inks, especially if they need a more three-dimensional look in the finished product.
You do not need to use the raised, high-density effect for your entire design. Three-dimensional accents can bring a design to life when layered on top of a flat design. This is one of the easiest ways to achieve a long list of special effects without too many restrictions. For example, if you are printing the image of an animal on a t-shirt, add textured layers with the high-density inks to provide a more realistic depth.
Pros and Cons of High-Density Printing
If you’re on the fence about whether high-density screen printing is right for you, we’ve listed out a few pros and cons to the process. Though the technique is very popular, you should consider how your garment will be used, the desired look, and your budget when making a final decision.
Pro: Opaque Colors Stand Out
This is possibly the best method you’re going to find if you’re looking for a clean, vibrant look to your logo or design. Use similar colors for both ink and fabric without worrying about a subtle appearance.
Con: It is Not Ideal for Halftones
Looking to create a lot of unique colors on your design? High-density printing is not always ideal for matching incredibly specific colors used for shading and highlights.
Pro: Designs Are Clean and Crisp
High-density inks provide an incredible clean finished product, ideal for large corporate events, promotional shirts, or team uniforms.
Con: Small Details Are Complicated
You may not get the best effect if your design is incredibly intricate. The multi-layer process is best for clear-cut shapes that can act as a base for the several layers of ink.
Pro: It’s More Durable Than Alternatives
The strengthened layers of ink create a durable look that will last longer than techniques like metallic ink printing or foil printing. This is particularly helpful if you need a reflective design, such as those with the metallic-based techniques. Choose a high-density ink with glitter to create a more stable look.
Con: You Need a Sturdy Fabric
Each layer of ink needs to be cured before the next one can be layered on top. The curing process depends on the type of ink used in the process. Cotton or cotton-based fabrics are often the best materials for high-density printing. Certain inks also adhere to sweat-wicking fabrics used in sports and dance uniforms.
Top Applications for High-Density Inks
How can your company or next even use high-density inks? You can add a high-density design to any part of your garment, though it is recommended that the design has plenty of space to lay. Add a large design to a small area of the shirt, such as the end of the sleeve may not display as well as it would in a more traditional spot. Remember that the thicker nature of the design needs to be supported by the fabric.
Companies enjoy high-density designs for professional uniforms in a wide range of businesses. The design may be less expensive than traditional embroidery, yet still provides the sharp look they desire. Add a matching logo to hats, sweatshirts, and bags to streamline your employee wear.
Sports teams need an ink design that can be seen from afar and is sturdy enough to stand the tests of the field or court. Consider high-density printing for your sports jerseys, promotional gear, or clothing to celebrate a milestone event or championship.
If you’re adding a new design to your online store or storefront, high-density ink provides a higher-quality look for your vision. Create a durable, vibrant design that will last and keep your customers coming back.
Family Reunions and Weddings
If you are ordering more than 24 pieces, you can take advantage of our wholesale services at Thrive. Large family events like weddings and family gatherings are now designing their own apparel as thank you gifts or wear for the bridal and groom’s party.
Send off your employees with swag packages of corporate items that celebrate a recent corporate getaway or conference. Create matching items for employees to wear during the event or to act as a reminder for the trip.
How to Create an High-Density Printing Order
The team at Thrive Screen Printing has been managing large-scale, wholesale orders across the world for the past three decades. In addition to screen printing, we also specialize in finishing and packaging services that send out your apparel ready for the shelves.
We offer a range of specialty and traditional screen printing techniques, including flock printing, foil printing, metallic ink printing, gel printing, and of course, high-density printing.
Ready to speak to one of our specialists about your high-density design? If your order has a minimum of 24 items, request a quote for your project after telling us a little bit more about your design needs. We can suggest materials, a timeframe, and how to set up your design for maximum success. A team member will reach back to your request in at least hours to hear more details and provide a detailed quote regarding your project.
In addition to creating high-quality screen-printed apparel, we work hard to batch orders together in a way that gets all of our clients the lowest wholesale price available.