Metallic Screen Printing – Custom Metallic Ink Screen Printing T-shirts
What is Metallic Screen Printing?
Our metallic silver and gold finishes produce a nice bright shiny look when printed on the shirt or garment. This style of printing does tend to lose it’s shine and lustre though washing quicker than our other application choices, but they do look great when new! If you really want to make a statement, gold or silver metallic ink printing on a black shirt looks stunning!
Metallic Ink Screen Printing Explained
Reflective designs are making their mark on the screen printing industry. Metallic screen printing, one of the popular techniques, provides a lustrous, matte finish to logos and images on fabrics, paper, and solid materials. Of all the specialty screen printing methods today, metallic ink printing and foil printing are among the most requested designs.
Thrive Screen Printing works with both gold and silver metallic ink hues on a range of fabrics and garments. This style is popular among sports teams, community organizations, and even large companies looking to add a unique element to their swag and uniforms.
So, what is metallic ink screen printing and how does it differ from foil printing? Though the two techniques are similar, they have subtle differences in appearance and major differences in technique. Metallic ink printing combines small particles of copper, zinc, and aluminum to a clear plastisol ink to print the desired design onto your choice of fabric or solid material. Foil printing uses a two-step process by adding a layer of gold or silver leaf over the top of a layer of clear adhesive. We’ll go into this more a bit later.
In this guide, we’ll go through some of the major things you need to know about metallic ink printing. We’ll dive into how metallic ink works, the top uses in the industry, and both color and fabric options. We’ll also review how to properly care for your metallic ink printing item.
What is Metallic Ink?
Designers attain the signature lustrous appearance by combining two main components: a liquid resin and a metallic pigment. The pigments are made of traditional metals to create a range of popular hues such as ranges of gold and silver. These costly metals are replaced with more affordable and durable metals like copper, zinc and aluminum to create the desired look. Balancing copper and zinc provides different variations of gold metallic ink while aluminum is the base for silver hues.
Similar to other inks, the metallic particles are often combined with a clear plastisol ink, which requires heat to cure.
Size of Metallic Particles
When purchasing the correct metallic pigments for their project, screen printing designers will also consider the size of the particle. Larger particles reflect more light but require more permeable screens. Without these, the large particles may not evenly transfer onto the garment. However, if the particles are too small, you risk losing the reflective glimmer the designer is aiming to achieve.
Durability of Metallic Ink
The larger and coarser the particle in the ink, the easier the design will flake off over time. This is why we recommend careful washing instructions for your metallic ink designs, especially if you intend to wear them on the field. Though they look brilliant at first—which is ideal for one-time events—the design will fade naturally as the particles fall.
Some companies use what’s known as non-leafing pigments as well. Though these pigments are more durable, they may not give off the traditional shine of leading varieties.
It is also important to note that since these pigments are made of natural metals, you can run the risk of oxidation over time. Modern metallic inks, however, may come pretreated to protect against UV-light fading and reactions to chemicals.
Top Uses for Metallic Ink
So, what kind of items can you design by using metallic ink? Since the metals are combined with plastisol, you can use metallic inks on traditional fabrics as you would with other colors. Gold and silver varieties do stand out on darker fabrics best, but white fabrics can gain a bit of shimmer and a luxury quality with a more subtle design.
Here are some of the top reasons companies and individuals order metallic ink screen printing:
If you’re gathering a group of volunteers of staff for a company event, gold or silver metallic printing gives uniforms an extra level of professionalism. Add a gold border around your logo or incorporate shine into the font itself.
Gift Bags and Swag
Looking to impress clients and guests at your recent event? Add a metallic design or logo to a tote bag filled with promotional items. You can also add metallic ink to sweatshirts, hoodies, hats, socks, and gloves.
Stand out on the field with gold or silver reflective uniforms for soccer, basketball, or cheerleading uniforms. The look pairs specifically well with outdoor locations since the design will reflect the sunlight.
Best Colors of Metallic Ink
Though it’s possible to obtain a range of colors with the metallic ink, we recommend sticking to the traditional gold and silver inks for a vibrant finish. Thrive Screen Printing can create both gold and silver finishes for a range of unique designs.
Gold Screen Printing
Are you looking to show off the elegance of your brand or a unique, luxe design? Gold metallic ink screen printing stands out with eye-catching effects against black fabric.
Some designers prefer to create templates and logos that will benefit from a worn look as time goes on, especially if they’re trying to attain the popular boho-chic style in fashion today. The worn quality of the design benefits from the natural breakdown of metallic inks.
Metallic gold ink can also be used to highlight other colors on a t-shirt such as white, silver, bronze, or a range of pale colors that pick up light just as well.
Silver Screen Printing
Silver ink is a much more subtle way to add professionalism to your design. It also pairs with a range of fabric colors including black, deep red, purple, blue, and orange. It’s smart to steer clear of pale fabrics, as the design could be too subtle to attain your ideal effect. Align silver font against a black screen printing backdrop or use the ink as a way to highlight areas of your shirt, such as for stars, waves, or animals.
You can also create a design that incorporates both silver and gold tones on your item. This can be fun for creating a complex logo, creating depth in an artistic design, or adding festive touches around a design that incorporates a rainbow of colors and inks.
Best Fabrics for Metallic Ink Printing
One of the benefits of metallic ink printing is its versatility to cling to a range of fabrics. Since the metallic particles mix with a traditional plastisol based, the technique works well on cotton and polyester blends.
This means that the look is popular for a wider range of uses, such as the ones we mentioned above. Sweat-wicking fabrics often used for sports uniforms or workout gear can hold the metallic design just as well as a traditional cotton t-shirt.
Remember that this style does wear down over time, so articles of clothing that get greater use may need to be updated if not properly cared for.
Care Instructions for Metallic Ink
We strongly recommend hand washing items with metallic ink designs to extend their original look. If you do need to run the item through the washing machine, follow these instructions:
- Turn the shirt (or other garment) inside-out before placing it into the washer.
- Use a phosphate-free, gentle detergent such as Woolite.
- Run on a normal or gentle cycle in cold water.
- Line dry.
You should not iron, dry clean, or run your metallic ink-printing garment through the dryer. Also not that easy variety of screen printing ink may vary, so it’s important to follow the specific instructions provided after your order.
How Does Metallic Ink Differ from Foil Printing?
In addition to metallic ink, our team at Thrive Screen Printing specializes in a collection of popular techniques, including foil printing. Foil printing presses a layer of gold or silver leaf onto clear adhesive ink in your desired pattern. When the excess is stripped away, the foil remains.
As you can imagine, foil printing is just as delicate as metallic ink since it incorporates particles not traditionally used in traditional inks. However, it does create a similar sheen and luminescence as the metallic ink process, if not more.
Metallic ink is more versatile for designs since you can alter the ink’s color and composition to match your tone of desired silver or gold. As the shirt wears down, the two looks will evolve differently over time. In some cases, metallic ink is also easier and therefore less expensive than foil printing since it does not require a two-step process.
Many people also confuse these two processes with glitter ink. Both metallic printing and foil printing create a more reflective surface but are not as durable as glitter-tinted ink. Choosing the best process for you comes down to balancing your desired end result and the intended use of the garment.
Metallic Ink Printing with Thrive
Thrive Screen Printing can manage your metallic ink project from ideation to shipment. As a wholesale screen printing company, we require a minimum of 24 pieces per order to get started. Request a quote for your metallic ink project and our team of specialists can walk you through the design process and finishing services within your desired time frame, even for rush orders.