The best and worst thing about custom printing is that no job is ever the same. Every project we do has a number of factors that affect the price, the primary culprit being the number of ink colors that goes into a design. If you’re new to screen printing and custom apparel and are here because you googled something along the lines “how does screen printing work?”, well first, welcome, and second, each color gets its own screen which we push ink over onto the garment, so more colors means more set-up time, more alignment time, and more materials used, so the price does increase.
We always try our best to condense artwork to single colors and where we can, use the color of the garment act as a color in the design. But if you’re looking for other ways for your design to stand out without necessarily adding more colors to your design, we have some options!
Glow is our most popular additive and an effect we know very well. For a really deep dive on glow ink, read this blog post from last autumn, but here’s how it works: glow ink is a thin ink that sits on top of another existing ink on the shirt, so when the lights go out, it glows bright green!
This is a classic effect! Like glow, puff ink isn’t really an “ink” on its own; rather it is an additive that we mix into the plastisol ink colors. From there, it’s your classic screen printing technique with the ink through the screen and as the ink cures in the dryer, it slowly starts to puff up and out and then stays on the shirt just like you see in the photo below! Imagine one of those capsules you put into water when you were a kid and it turned into a dinosaur or something like that, but with your own custom design on some shirts.
Different from the glow effect, we can mix the puff additive with any ink color to give your project maximum customization, and if you want to get real funky with it, try one color with the puff and one without to give your project a real one-of-a-kind look.
A fan favorite because of the effect you get at the price, split fountain combines multiple ink colors on one screen to give a gradient effect across the design. In the photos below, you’ll see a rainbow split fountain using six colors, but in theory, you can select colors of your choice to use to achieve the same effect. It looks awesome and is immensely less expensive than setting up multiple individual screens!
Metallic ink is a great way to make certain elements of a design really pop. Used best on big and bold designs such as text and simple shapes, metallic inks have real flakes of copper and zinc mixed in to give the finished product a glossy but non-reflective text that will stand out compared to your classic plastisol inks.
If you have a specific vision that can’t be achieved with one of these methods above, we do have certain types of heavy duty vinyl that can be cut and pressed into the shirts. These work best designs that don’t have small details, such as team rosters that need names or numbers and complement the front design. For example, earlier this year we did a project for a dance studio and added staff names to the back in a silver glitter ink to bring the shirts to the next level.