Tri-Blend T Shirts and the challenges of printing on them

Next Level Apparel Women's Tri-Blend TeeNext Level Apparel MEN'S TRI-BLEND CREW

The Tri-Blend T Shirt

Oh the ever changing landscape in the apparel decoration industry. And one of the most desired shirts of all time, the Tri-Blend.  In fact, once you wear one it is very likely your whole closet will get a total remake.  One of our favorites is the Next Level ladies and unisex tees pictured above.  The Tri-Blend offers very light weight, stretch and breathability but with that comes a whole bunch of print challenges.  If you haven’t read our post on “Printing Fashion Tees” you may want to do that first.  Then to compound matters we will go through some of the challenges and recommendations for Tri-Blend shirts.

Our first recommendation is art selection.  Much like the fashion tee, the light weight of the fabric along with it’s stretch characteristics make for a very challenging substrate to print on.  Pulling the shirt onto the pallet will cause some distortion in the fabric, especially with the hour glass shaped junior fit ladies tees.  Then add the soft, breathable, vintage look and feel to the equation makes for a canvas best suited for a worn or distressed type of print.  The last thing you want on a shirt like this is a thick, plastic, non breathable print.  Also, just like the fashion tee, abstract shapes are desirable over perfect circles, squares or horizontal line art.

The second big challenge is Flashing.  Probably not what you are thinking… in the screen print world flashing is the process of partially drying the base layer of ink before printing the top color.  In screen printing the base layer needs to be dried by heat which in most cases only takes a few seconds.  Well the most advanced flash cure units of today get very hot very quick.  As much as 1200 degrees almost instantly.  This causes a major issue with the Tri-Blend fabric which is mostly made of Cotton/Polyester/Rayon.  This fabric will scorch very quickly and finding the balance of drying the ink and not burning the shirt is very difficult.  Often times in the middle of a print run the fabric batch will change and poof, up in smoke the shirt goes.

The final challenge is color opacity.  Much like painting a red wall with white paint, one coat just isn’t going to get full coverage.  Well, the Tri-Blend fabric has a heathered type of texture and the heather pattern will show through the ink slightly.  And remember, our goal is to print a very thin/light layer of ink to keep that wonderful, breathable, stretchy feel which is why we chose the Tri-Blend in the first place.

So on your next project, give the Tri-Blend a try but keep these recommendations in mind.  But we must warn you…  Once you go Tri, that’s all you will buy.

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