As was originally stated on the home page, bring us your artwork and SOA can handle your merchandising fulfillment needs. Actually, if you’re in the market for a graphic designer, there are several different options that can be referred by SOA. Once the art files are production-ready, we can discuss the type of goods you wish to purchase along with your style interests in art application, get the ball rolling, confirm proofs, move forward with production and ship the merchandise. We are members of ASI, which gives us special access and pricing to tens of thousands of items all over the world. SOA also works with: several standard contract printers and boutique printers capable of specialized art application (prints such as water-based/fashion-based, discharge, specialty location, oversized, digital dye-sublimation, glitter, foil stamping and heat transfers) along with multiple embroiderers capable of both computerized machine embroidery and applique.
- # of colors printed increases costs
- # of printing locations increases costs
- Specific print locations such as pockets, sleeves, and bleeds increase costs
(for specific art set-up guidelines, see Art Instructions)
- Plastisol – The most common method used in screen printing. Very solid color coverage and detail with a more plasticized texture. This print can be made softer with special attention and using special additives. Good for keeping exact color integrity (color-pop)
- Water-Based/Fashion-Based – These inks penetrate fabric more than plastisol inks and create an extremely soft feel. On colored garments, the chosen print colors will be compromised, creating a more vintage appearance. The variation in color is due to a number of factors including the base color of the natural fiber, tightness of the fabric weave and amount of ink deposited. To keep final color integrity, ink adjustments and multiple samples will be necessary during the process. We carefully experiment with our mixes to achieve accurate colors, but there are many factors involved in getting color matches on fabric. In actuality, many experienced customers are purposeful in having the original colors altered for that vintage look.
- Discharge – Discharge ink is a water based product that is formulated to deactivate the dyes used on natural fabrics (basically removing all dye color from garment). Discharge screen printing can be used to print colors on colored garments that in the past would have required an underbase of white ink in order to achieve proper opacity of top colors. When we need to print a color rather than clear discharge ink we will add water-based pigments to the ink in order to essential re-dye the fabric with the color of our choice. This allows us to maintain tight registration and bright prints on dark fabric without the use of a white underbase. For the ultimate in soft printing combined with color integrity, pigmented discharge is a good choice. Important- Discharge printing can only be performed on 100% cotton garments.
- Four Color Process – The printable artwork is created using dots (CMYK- cyan, magenta, yellow and black) which combine to create the full spectrum of colors needed for photographic-style printing. This process can be used primarily on light garments. The inks are required to blend and are more translucent, meaning a compromise with vibrancy of color. This process is not used as often anymore, as experienced screen printers tend to use Simulated Process printing with CMYK artwork.
- Simulated Process Printing – This printing process matches up multiple opaque colors selected by the printer (w/printing software) to re-create a realistic photo like image of the customer’s CMYK artwork. Using specific spot colors and halftones, the process simulates continuous tone images and from a reasonable viewing distance seems photorealistic. This has slowly taken the place of 4-color process printing, because of… 1) the ability to keep control of the printing integrity and… 2) the ability to print these images on all colored garments.
- Foil – This is a two-part process that involves first printing a layer of adhesive on the garment, curing that adhesive, and heat-pressing a sheet of foil onto the adhesive. Foil sticks to the adhesive only, leaving a shiny metallic sheen to the design that cannot be achieved with standard screen printed inks. Due to the foil being pressed on the garment with heat, the adhesive re-melts in order for the foil to adhere. This pressure can cause small open areas of the artwork to close up, so the customer and/or designer should avoid extreme artistic detail when choosing this method.
- Glitter – Silver flakes are suspended inside plastisol ink creating a sparkle effect. This is usually available in gold or silver but can be mixed to make other colors.
- Metallic – This is similar to glitter, but much smaller particles are suspended inside the plastisol ink. Special glue is printed onto the fabric then very tiny fibers applied on it. The sparkle effect is less intense then glitter.
A transfer is made up of a carrier paper and inks. When heated to a certain temperature and pressed with a significant amount of pressure for a certain amount of time, the transfer inks are passed over to the imprintable material. Some inks are adhered and embedded to the surface of the material, while others (namely, sublimation) permeate the coating of the material. This style of decoration leaves a more definitive feel on the garment, but is useful when attempting to decorate on very difficult locations.
Sublimation is a process by which sublimation dyes are printed on transfer paper with a specially prepared inkjet printer. Those dyes are then transferred from the transfer to a garment using a commercial heat press. When the heat and pressure are applied, the dye on the transfer sublimates (by becoming a gas) and is then absorbed into the polyester itself. The print actually becomes a part of the garment/coating, so there is zero feel. It has very little fade, wear, texture or weight. Sublimation only works on garments made of polyester or given a polyester coating. Best results for color integrity come from using light colored garments.
- Amount of thread being embroidered increases costs (size, detail, etc.)
- # of embroidery locations increases costs
- Important note- # colors being used in embroidery does not increase price
- Computerized Machine Embroidery – Embroidery is decorative thread stitching on fabric. Embroidery digitizing software is used to digitize the design into the proper format to be embroidered. Industrial and commercial embroidery machines have a hooping or framing system that holds the framed area of fabric taut under the sewing needle and moves it automatically to create a design from a pre-programmed digital embroidery pattern. Embroidered logos have dimension, depth and unlimited fade/wear but also have the inability to display as much artistic detail as many other decorative methods.
- Applique – This is the process of applying one piece of fabric to another. Any piece of material/fabric stitched to another adding dimension and texture. Modern consumer embroidery machines quickly stitch appliqué designs by following a computer program.
(See Art Instructions)