Despite the fashion-friendly look of the new promotional T-shirt, if it’s going to be taken seriously as everyday wear, logo imprinting must be as hip and well-done as ever before. Here’s a quick explanation of a few popular techniques, and how they can help put an end-user’s T-shirt on the best-dressed list.
• Sublimation. In this process, dyes bond with the individual fibers of a fabric through the application of intense heat. As a result, the imprint feels as though it’s actually a part of the shirt, rather than something that was added on later, since it actually penetrates the garment. Sublimation doesn’t work on all types of fabrics, however, only those that have high polyester content. The method works best with a polymer.
• Inkjet transfer. A logo is printed out, then “attached” to a garment using a heat press. It is one of the more cost-effective means of imprinting a T-shirt.
• Foil treatments. A special effect that consists of binding a shiny, metallic material to a T-shirt using heat and plastisol adhesives. Although this effect has gotten bad press in the past for not being able to withstand numerous washes (the foil would crack or peel), using the foil on a smaller surface area of the shirt can help it to last. Plus, better technology is available that ensures the embellishment stays fresh over time.
• Discharge. Typically used on darker fabrics, discharge printing involves the bleaching out of particular portions of the shirt with a color-destroying agent. Colored or white dyes are then used on the bleached-out section to form the logo. It can be used on 100 percent cotton T-shirts and can ensure the garment maintains a soft hand, even after imprinting.
• Other. Rhinestones, nailheads or even crystal appliqués can give a logo a more youthful appearance. This can be especially effective in the high school/college market, as well as on fan gear and for companies with a laid-back vibe.
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