A premium method that combines heat and pressure to transfer foil to a garment giving some decorated items an attention-getting metallic shimmer. However, it should be noted that foil is available in a variety of colors and patterns and can be used to add dramatic accents to traditional screen printing. Alternatively, it can be applied to large areas or overall designs on all colors and weights of fabrics. Foil printing involves screen printing a layer of adhesive onto the garment, curing the adhesive, and then using heat and pressure to apply the foil. It requires skill, attention and the right materials, but achieves a special look with a higher perceived value. This technique works better with direct/ reactive dyed garments.
IMAGE DESIGN: As with screen printing, create a customized graphic using professional graphics software. The graphic must be separated by color, with each color – including the foil portion of the design – printed on its own clear positive film. Foil must be the top-most layer of the design, applied after all other ink has been applied and cured. SCREEN MAKING: Using a darkroom and photographic chemicals, make a stencil – known as a screen – made for each ink color and for the foil. For the foil screen, use a mesh with fine thread and high tension. ADHESIVE APPLICATION: Place the foil screen in the screen printer. Use a soft squeegee and slow stroke to make a smooth even thick film of adhesive on the shirt. A sequence of print, flash, print may be necessary to both have the adhesive engage the fibers of the shirt and be above the shirt enough to adhere the foil. Too little glue causes poor adhesion; too much will cause the glue to melt from under the foil, resulting in uneven edges. The printed glue should have a smooth, glass-like finish. Foil will adhere to both plastisol inks as well as foil adhesives so you must either combine foil with water-based inks or else use a “foil resist” additive in the plastisol inks in the non-foil portions of your print. You may print a grey layer of ink under a silver foil and a gold/yellow layer of ink under a golden foil, etc., or dye the glue grey or gold. Doing this means someone will not see that the foil is peeling or falling off of some pin spots after the first washes, and the image will look fresh for longer. FOIL APPLICATION: Set your heat transfer press to the foil and ink manufacturers’ recommended time, temperature and pressure. Make certain that the hot plate is clean, the rubber pad is in good condition, and that the press applies consistent pressure across the entire surface. Position the item in the heat transfer press, place the foil sheet over the adhesive-printed area and apply heat and pressure. Make several test prints to ensure that the foil is adhering smoothly and completely, and that your design has sharp, even edges. LONGEVITY AND CARE: Foil printing is one of the least permanent decorating processes, with a tendency to tarnish or flake after numerous washes. A quality printing job produces in a more durable result, andproper care can substantially increase the life of foil prints. Encourage your customers to turn foil printed items inside out before washing; launder using their washing machine’s delicate cycle or hand wash; hang to dry. Also let them know that they should never use an iron on a foil print.
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