IMAGE 4 challenge for printers when they first start doing discharge because often the print is very difficult to see before it goes into the dryer. Only after curing can it be checked for pinholes or registration issues (see Image 2). WATER-BASED PRINTING The biggest difference with a water-based print and a discharge print is that the water-based print doesn't have any discharge additives. The inks will work best on shirt colors that are light enough to show the print. A print on a light blue shirt with low viscosity water-based inks will look washed out and have a blue tone (see Image 4). Using water-based inks to achieve a soft feeling print requires many of the same considerations as discharge printing: a. You need to have the gas dryer to cure properly and it's the best method to test. Curing is a wash test, so make sure to do this prior to printing customer orders. b. The screens have to be hardened so they don't break down during printing. c. You will need to change your printing method to avoid drying your inks in the screens quickly. Most printers will stop after a flood stroke instead of a print stroke so the open stencil area has less time exposed to the air. It's very helpful if the printing area is higher in humidity. 12 SCREENPRINTING | APRIL + MAY 2020 IMAGE 5 SOFT HAND PLASTISOL PRINTING Soft hand plastisols can simulate a water-based print on light shirts. A work around solution for some printers can be to use an additive to a plastisol ink that will lower the viscosity and make the ink soak into the shirt, which is very similar to water-based. The advantage of doing this with a plastisol ink vs. a water-based ink is there's less chance of a screen breakdown and the inks won't dry into the screens. This can be a good solution for a design that has a lot of thin lines or details and when the printer has an environment that is very dry (see Image 5). When plastisol is thinned out in this manner to simulate water-based ink, it tends to lose opacity, so it may not be bright on mediumand dark-colored garments. This method may not have as high of a wash resistance as water-based inks, so it can be critical to wash test this method before running a large amount of items with it. Any of these three printing options can create super soft garments that can end up being your customers' favorite shirts. Creating a print that has an imperceptible feel to it that also looks fantastic is possible if you're willing to invest the time and practice. These methods will lift your company and printing process to a sought after level. Thomas Trimingham has more than 25 years as an apparel artist, separator, and industry author. He is the marketing communications manager at M&R Companies.