5 Trending Print Techniques: Add “WOW” to your printed apparel

When the “same old” gets…old.

It pains me to see how many organizations never “push the envelope” with their printed apparel. Now don’t get me wrong, I can completely understand wanting to stay with the tried and true, but screen printing has come a long way over the years and there are some print techniques that you can use to really add WOW into your next project.

Deciding to invest a little more into your next apparel order can be tough. With budgets already stretched thin, it may seem like a better idea to stick with a basic shirt and basic print. I mean, after all, that’s what you’ve always done and its worked out so far, hasn’t it?

What I would challenge you to do, is ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Why am I printing this apparel?
  2. What do I hope to accomplish?
  3. What does this say about my brand and organization?
  4. Do I want this to become a favorite or forgettable?

The answer to these questions should help to shape the framework of HOW you intend on using the apparel you are printing.  For instance, if you are trying to build spirit or community, then it is important that the shirts are worn and seen by others.  In order to accomplish this, you have to create something that people will want to wear and be seen in.

This is your starting point, and these 5 options will move you in that direction:

1.) Soft Hand Plastisol Ink

Soft Hand Plastisol Leopard Shirt PrintSoft hand plastisol ink is a great entry point into a softer, trendier, feel for your next print. It’s bright and bold, just like traditional plastisol ink (traditional plastisol is the ink most often used on screen printed apparel). However, the ink is made with an additive that thins it out and produces a bright, soft print.

2.) Water-based Ink

Water-based Lion Shirt DesignWater-based ink is exactly what it sounds like, ink that has a base of water. What makes this unique is the fact that screen print ink is cured through heat. After the apparel is printed, during the curing process, the water in this ink evaporates. Leaving behind the soft ink pigment. If you’ve ever felt a print on a retail quality shirt that feels like it is part of the shirt itself, there is a good chance that it was printed with water-based ink. In addition to being more eco-friendly than plastisol ink; this ink will produce the softest print possible.

3.) Vintage Discharge Print

Musical Vintage Dye Discharged PrintDischarge printing is the process of removing pigment from a garment. Rather than laying down ink on top of the material, discharge ink has a
chemical in it, that when heated, removes the dye from 100% cotton material; exposing the color of the raw cotton. This produces a very soft print because there is no ink going onto the shirt. It also leaves you with a vintage looking print that will give your product a unique style.

4.) Simulated Process Print

Simulated Process T-Shirt Print with Jet“Sim Process,” as we call it in the industry; can produce the most vibrant colored prints while using the least amount of colors. This process entails
combining several spot colors together to get different color variations (think: combining yellow and blue to get green). It is the best solution for high definition prints where color vibrancy is important.

5.) Finishes

Most people never think about this, but the finishing details can make a huge difference when you are trying to make your printed apparel stand out. Adding a custom printed tag inside the garment or adding a hang tag, will set it apart from the crowd. What you really want to remember is that these “finishes” aren’t just to make your product “retail ready.” We have plenty of organizations using these services just to add another layer of branding to their items. For instance, adding something as simple as a custom printed size tag on the inside of the garment, with your organization’s logo, and adding a hang tag that tells “the story” of your organization; can really step up the WOW factor. It also serves as a way to get your brand or story out to clients, employees, and the community.Example of printed shirt with retail tags


Whether you are designing the organization’s next commemorative T-shirt or you are trying to create an item that speaks to your client’s and prospects; I would challenge you to push the envelope with a different type of print (or finish) on your next project. There are many more possibilities than what I have outlined in this article. We welcome the opportunity to talk about what you have in mind and how we can customize the printing approach to really make your next project stand out.

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