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Screen print focus – What is discharge printing?

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Unlike in other forms of screen printing, discharge printing creates your design by taking away from the fabric, rather than adding to it; literally discharging the pigment from the fabric you’re printing on.

 

To help you get a better sense of what discharge printing is and when to use it, we peeled our Garment Production Manager and all-round screen print guru, Dixon, away from the presses to answer a few questions.

Dixon, screen print guru, Awesome Merchandise

So, what exactly is discharge printing?

Discharge printing is the process of using a clear water-based ink which is mixed with an additive. The additive removes the colour dye from the t-shirt when printed onto it, creating your chosen design. The discharge ink on it’s own will return the cotton to it’s natural colour (a sort of off white) however, you can add pigment to the discharge ink to print colours.

Discharge print, discharge printing, discharde printed t-shirt, t-shirt printing

What are the advantages of using discharge printing?

The advantage of discharge printing is that you get a product with very little hand (feel on the shirt) allowing the garment to feel as light as it would without a print on there.

Awesome Merchandise, t-shirt printing, discharge printing,

When would you advise using discharge ink for a t-shirt design?

If you have a design which is very heavy in terms of how much ink is going down, then discharge printing is a great option. You don’t have to put a layer of plastic down, like you would have to using Plastisol ink.

Discharge printing is also something that works well alongside other techniques to get a variety of finishes. Putting down a discharge base, then build up with Plastisol or water-based inks is a great way to reduce the amount of ink going onto a garment.

discharge printing, t-shirt printing, Awesome Merchandise

When would you advise people not to use discharge printing?

You can’t Pantone match with discharge printing because of the inconsistency of discharging. So if this is important to you and your design, then you should look into using Plastisol or water-based inks instead.

Need a little bit of inspiration? Check out our discharge printed t-shirt Pinterest board to see more examples of discharge printing.

Already know what you want? Head to our website to discover our extensive range of garments waiting for you to customise.

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