Learn how to print puff ink on Lycra or other stretchy fabrics without puckers or cracking.
1-Create your recipe. Start with Super Stretch Clear (77%); you can find this at International Coatings). Add puff additive (18%). Add the color of your choice (5%).
2-Ensure all your ingredients are well mixed. Poorly mixed ingredients will result in a poorly printed finished product, such as uneven loft or color striping.
3-Prepare your mesh and emulsion. Use a mesh screen that allows for the proper printing of your design. For a puff ink, a lower mesh screen, like an 86 mesh, is recommended in addition to a thick emulsion layer. Remember that the puff’s thickness can be determined by the thickness of ink you print. A thin emulsion coating will only deposit a small amount of ink, with little puff effect.
4-Print, flash, print. A thick ink layer is recommended to create a loftier puff print, so plan to print, flash and print several times.
5-Cure the print. Cure at 320°F for 60 seconds.
Video: International Coatings’ Kieth Stevens shows you how to screen print a stretchy puff design. Learn how to print a puff that stretches with the fabric and won’t crack. Watch the video here:
Tip: To add glitter and shine to the garment, create a second screen and print using a translucent, iridescent glitter flake ink, like the 155 Crystalina Shimmer (you can procure this from International Coatings).
Avoid Puckering: When large design areas are covered with puff ink, the ink can expand to such a degree that the fabric underneath gets pulled or puckered due to the expansion process. To avoid fabric pucker, screen printers can modify their artwork. Instead of creating one solid design, create a design that uses dots or some other similar pattern. The spacing between the dots will allow for expansion of the puff ink while minimizing the pulling or puckering of the fabric. This technique is especially effective with fabrics that include Lycra or are stretchy.
Kieth Stevens has been a screen printer and industry representative for more than 35 years, and has been teaching screen printing for more than 12 years. In 2014, he won a prestigious Golden Image Award for screen printing from SGIA. Stevens is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs.