How To: Getting the Best Screen Print from Your Design Files

So you’re ready to place a garment order. What’s next, you ask? There will be a number of steps to make sure we have everything you need, one being “high resolution or vectorized artwork”. What the heck does that mean? Well, allow us to explain.

High quality artwork is crucial in the screen printing process. The design you print is a major selling point for any clothing brand, band or retail company. It’s the reason your customers want to buy it from you, and we want all of our customers to succeed. Below we’ll answer some of the top questions that our customers have about artwork files.

“What’s a vector file?”

A vector file is a scalable art format that is most commonly associated with Adobe Illustrator. It’s a file that can be sized small enough to print on a baby onesie or large enough to fit on a billboard without any degradation or loss of clarity. It’s the favored file format of screen printers because it can be easily resized should the artwork require it.

“What does ‘high resolution artwork’ mean?”

It means that when zoomed in at 100% on an image, it has well defined, crisp lines. The two images below help illustrate that. On the top you see two seemingly identical images, but when you zoom in on the two images you’ll see the contrast between the two. The left image is muddy and not well defined. The image on the right, however, is clean without any blurriness or distortion.

  • Low Resolution Artwork File
  • High Resolution Artwork File

In order for a design to be printable it absolutely has to have sharp, clean edges. If it is even a little blurry the screen that the image is burned onto won’t pick up on the fine details and the final product won’t look right. For more information on the process of screen printing and more specifically burning a screen read our previous blog.

All vector artwork is high resolution, which we covered. But let’s say you created your artwork in Photoshop, Gimp or another design program. What then? What steps can you take to prevent your artwork created in those programs from being unusable?

  • Design everything in 300dpi. Dots Per Inch, or dpi, is literally a measurement of how many dots of color are in every square inch of a design. It’s the industry standard for almost any kind of graphic art as it produces a very crisp edge and is easily translated to print.
  • Create your project at the desired size you want it printed. When creating a new photoshop document with the intention of designing a new shirt, always favor a larger canvas than a small one. You can always shrink it down to work on the garment but you can’t ever stretch it out to make it larger without pixelating the artwork.

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These rules definitely are not common practice for even graphic designers, but when dealing with screen printing they make all the difference. Taking these steps will help to not only make your artwork printable, but the best quality you can get. They will make everybody’s job easier and guarantee the best final product!

Ready to order? You can go here or contact us at printing@threadbird.com with any additional questions! You can also find answers to some other file prep questions here.


Video: Johnny Crap Process Print

We’re pumped to finally share a project we’ve been working on with Johnny Crap. We recently completed a 10 color Simulation Process print using our Premium Standard inks and wanted to give you a glimpse into the process from beginning to end!

Premium Standard is our special hybrid style of printing in which we use a discharge underbase with our special soft inks on top. This allows us to create a strong print with bright colors while keeping the printing really soft (even on dark colored shirts). The Johnny Crap design was a fun project to test out a 10 color print.

You can order one of the prints for $8 today! Go here to check it out.

  • Threadbird progress
  • johnny_crap_shirt_full
  • johnny_crap_screen_hi
  • johnny_crap_tag_2

Be sure to keep an eye on what we’ve been up to on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Want to find out more or place an order? You can start here!


Turnaround Time: What’s Really Happening?

So you’ve placed an order with us and are wondering, “What’s next?” or “How long is all this production stuff going to take?” Well, we can assure you that the Threadbird team is hard at work to keep your order moving and to get the best final product possible to your door.

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Here’s what happens once you submit and pay for your order.

Your digital mocks are created. Our Art & Mocks team immediately starts working to put together your designs and all necessary details for your approval before handing the final mock off to the printing team. You should receive it within 24 hours and the faster you approve the faster we can keep your order moving.

Our purchasing department orders your blank garments. We order your blanks right away to speed up your turnaround time. If you want to change your blanks, please let your customer service rep know as soon as possible to prevent additional delays and/or fees.

Your order goes into production. The average production time from mock approval is 5-7 business days. Any finishings or complex jobs may require additional time, which means turnaround time is an estimate and not guaranteed. If you have a specific due date, please be sure to let your customer service rep know when placing your order. If you have any questions or concerns about your order in the meantime, please contact us at printing@threadbird.com.

 And finally, your order is on the way! We’re big fans of this part. We love when our customers finally get to see their finished product in person. Once you receive your order let us know what you think! Share some pictures and tag us on Twitter or Instagram or let us know if we can do anything else. We want to know how your experience was.

And that’s it! Not too bad, huh? If you’re ready to start the process, you can go here, or you can contact us at printing@threadbird.com.


Customer Feature: BHB Reptiles

Sometimes at Threadbird we work on a print for a customer and think it’s cool and then find out more about what the company does and it becomes that much cooler. BHB Reptiles definitely surprised us.

Since 1989, Brian Barcyk of BHB Reptiles has kept a wide assortment of reptiles from corn snakes to boas to bearded dragons. Whether someone is looking for a pet snake or is an experienced breeder, BHB’s online store has everything a snake or reptile fan could want.

Barczyk and the rest of the BHB team can also be seen on snakebytes.tv as they share their experience, tips and tricks for keeping a snake or reptile.

We recently chatted with Barczyk about BHB and how he found his way into such a unique career.

When did your interest in reptiles first begin?

My first memory as a child at the age of two years old was of a Ball Python at the local zoo. Not my siblings, not my parents, but a snake! I have been obsessed ever since! I always tell people you can be born with an animal gene and obviously that’s what I have.

How did BHB come to be?

I wanted to work in a zoo and went to college for zoology. I bred some snakes to make a little money to help pay my way through college. But by the time I was 20 years old I was making far more money from breeding snakes than I could at any animal profession. So I thought, let’s give it a try. Here we are 26 years later and life has been amazing!

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Everything! I wake up in the morning and get to play with animals all day. I also get to travel the world filming wildlife in some of the coolest places on the planet for my web series named AnimalBytesTV and SnakeBytesTV.

Are the majority of your customers novice hobbyists or more serious investors?

We sell to three types of clients. The beginner or pet trade that are looking to have an awesome reptile as a pet. We wholesale to the pet trade in quantity to supply stores and other dealers and finally investors that will pay $50,000 plus for the rarest of animals.

What’s the largest reptile you guys have dealt with?

I just got back from filming in California with some 22 foot close to 400 pound Reticulated Pythons!

On average, how many reptiles do you guys have at one time?

We have about 30,000 snakes and about 5,000 lizards most of the time.

What’s the most difficult part of keeping such a large inventory of reptiles?

Employees… haha. The animals are always awesome, but having to deal with the keepers can be a challenge. After all we have to make sure that all the animals are cared for to the best we can and its important that everyone does their job! If one person fall short it can throw the entire operation off. Not to mention to 18 hours days! But I love every minute of it!

What’s your favorite reptile?

I can’t choose… It’s like asking a mom of 5 who their favorite child is.

Any crazy stories from the business?

So many…. My life is full of adventure! From travel to meeting amazing people. Not to mention getting the occasional attack from a huge snake to lizard. I have more scars than I would like to admit. Trust me there is never a dull moment when doing what I do for a living.

Thank you for your time, Brian! We loved learning more about BHB.

If you’d like to find out more about some of the other companies we’ve printed for or about our printing styles and options, stop by our site!


Threadbird Finishing Options: Hem Tags

“What the heck is a hem tag?”

A great way to add an extra branded touch to your shirts is by having custom tags sewn onto the shirt. We can put them in the neck of the shirt, but we can also put a hem tag on the sleeve or at the bottom of the shirt. Threadbird does not manufacture these, but if you supply them we will take care of adding them to your shirts. We recommend ordering your tags from www.clothinglabels4u.com.

“Are there different types of hem tags?”

There are two kinds of hem tags, and it’s really just a matter of preference. Both are great options!

  • Center fold – These labels have a center fold and the edges are heat sealed, to prevent fraying. You would wrap this label around the bottom hem of your t-shirt/beanie and top sew a tad below the top heat sealed part.
  • Manhattan fold – These labels have a top and bottom fold and a center fold as well. So you would wrap this label around the bottom hem of your t-shirt/beanie and top sew along the top folded part. Gives a neat finished look.

“What size does my design need to be?”

Hem tags are commonly created in 1” X 1” (25.4mm X 25.4mm) squares (open label being 1” X 2”). However, most manufacturers can adjust the size to guarantee it works best for your design. NOTE: Be sure to include an extra 1/8 SA on top for sewing when folded.

“What’s all this talk about damask labels?”

When discussing hem tags, you might hear the term damask labels referenced. Damask refers to the size of thread used and there are two kinds – 100 denier damask and 50 denier damask. 50 denier damask yarn will be half the size of the 100 denier damask yarn, resulting in finer detail and a softer feel. Damask is made of polyester yarns and comes in hundreds of colors. Now you know!

“How much longer will my order take?”  

One thing to note when ordering hem tags is that manufacturing the actual tags can take up to a few weeks, so plenty of time needs to be allowed prior to us receiving the tags to add to your garments.

On our end we estimate roughly 2-5 additional days to the turnaround time per finishing on standard orders. Our team can help to offer better timeline estimates once your order has been placed and all approvals have been made.

“So, how much??”

We’ve mapped it all out for you. One thing we recommend, however, is that you send us extra hem tags. If you include a buffer of about 10% extra that allows room for loss, error or manufacturer defects. Again, the pricing below is only for sewing the hem tags on – not the actual manufacturing.

Hem Tag Pricing

We’re big fans of this finishing option for an extra branded touch on garments. Check out the site if you’re interested in placing an order or have any other questions.


Best Printing Styles for Screen Printing

There is an ongoing debate over the best way to screen print. Threadbird Printing has been working to develop an answer so that we can continue to deliver the best possible product to our customers. What we’ve found is that each style has its pros and cons and there is not one perfect process. It also comes down to who is doing the actual printing (there are good printers and bad printers) and what the customer is looking for. Personally, I like my prints to be soft, either no-feel or with a slight hand (barely any feel). However, some customers associate a thicker print with higher quality.

One of the things I love about screen printing is the science behind it. The ink, as well as the shirt itself, have such an effect on the end result. The shirt color and fabric can affect the outcome of the print. An experienced printer knows this and can help you better understand what results you will get. For example, some people believe you can only use discharge on 100% cotton shirts. This is not true; however, discharge does work “best” on 100% Cotton. On tri-blends or 50/50 blends, a discharge print will come out looking faded and vintage which may be the look you are going for. If you are not looking for a vintage print and want to use discharge ink, 100% cotton is the only option.

So, let’s take a look at the 4 most popular print styles today: plastisol, waterbase, discharge and hybrid.

Plastisol

Plastisol is the traditional style of screen printing that has been around forever. It is the most commonly used ink for screen printing because it is the cheapest and most user-friendly. It works on all types of fabrics, produces bright colors and is perfect for color matching. Like the name implies, plastisol inks are essentially plastic. The major downside to using plastisol inks is that the thickness of the ink can make the final print a bit on the rough side, which can feel heavy and less breathable. Colors can also bleed together when they touch and you do not get as much detail. Very detailed prints with small dots or lines may not print well.
Plastisol

Waterbase

Waterbase inks are as they sound, water-based. This makes them eco-friendly and easy to clean up. The water is mixed with a dye or pigment and then evaporated during the drying stage of printing. You have a slight hand (soft feel) after printing with waterbase inks, but it becomes no-feel after its first wash. Waterbase ink blends into the shirt instead of sitting on top of it. One downside of using waterbase inks is that they are less opaque, so the color of the shirt will influence the print itself. For example, a bright red ink on a black shirt will come out as a very dark red. Waterbase delivers the best results on white or very light colored shirts with dark colored inks. When printing lighter colored inks on dark colored shirts, the ink colors will change resulting in a more vintage look. Because of this we can’t guarantee color matching when using waterbase inks.
Waterbase

Discharge

Discharge is waterbase ink with an added bleaching agent. This allows us to print waterbase ink on dark garments by bleaching out the color of the shirt and replacing it with a new color. Discharge inks are also no-feel once washed. Discharge produces the best results on 100% cotton shirts because cotton is the “only” fabric that will bleach. You can use discharge on other fabrics, but you will see the texture of the polyester (and other threads) through the print. This could result in a very cool “distressed” looking print. There are exceptions to the rules, for example, if you are printing on a poly-cotton heather shirt and the poly is white, you will see great results using discharge. Unfortunately, certain colors like royal, red, kelly green and purple do not discharge completely. Like waterbase, the ink color will be affected by how well the shirt will discharge, so we cannot guarantee color matching. Print colors are also usually more muted when printing with discharge.
Discharge

Hybrid (Discharge Underbase/Premium Standard)

Premium Standard is a name we created. This is our standard ink which is used on 80% of the jobs we print. It’s a hybrid between discharge printing and plastisol. We use discharge as the underbase (bottom layer) with a soft style plastisol on top. The end result is a really soft print with brighter and more accurate colors – the best of both worlds! You may be thinking, “That sounds great! Why don’t you use it all the time?” Premium Standard may sound like your best option, but it isn’t perfect. As we mentioned above, using discharge requires a garment that discharges well. If we can use the discharge to make the underbase white or as white as possible, the top coat will print much better. If the underbase does not discharge well, the top colors will not look as good, however they will be brighter and more accurate than using discharge alone.
Hybrid

So which printing style is the best? Personally, I would go with the hybrid (Premium Standard), our most popular printing style. There is no additional charge for Premium Standard because the best quality printing is what matters the most. In the end, the best style comes down to personal preference and what will work best with your garments and final design. Each design is different and we are here to make sure yours look amazing! Reach out to one of our printing experts today and lets make something amazing together!