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All about fiber reactive dyes in T-shirt screen printing

Color in T-shirt screen printing is very important, especially when working with unusual materials such as organic fibers and water-based inks. These will need to be taken into account when planning the design for the t-shirt printing. The color of the fabric is very important because it will affect the look of the design.

Dark colored fabrics are more difficult to do for T-shirt screen printing jobs. The darkness of the fabric dye affects how the ink colors appear when they are absorbed into the fibers and embedded through the curing process.

How to screen T-shirts with fiber reactive dyes

Fiber reactive dyes are permanent dyes for fabrics. They do not wash off or fade easily. That is the reason why it will be difficult to apply a simple technique, unless the process involves a more complex color separation method.

You will need to discharge the fiber reactive dye from the area of ​​the fabric where you plan to print your design. Use bleach thickeners, such as Monogum or liquid detergents, mixed with household bleach, or use the Clorox Bleaching Pen to bleed the colored area.

When the area has bled to a lighter color, it is ready for the printing process. Before applying ink to fabric, make sure the area has been neutralized, rinsed, and dried. You can cure the design by heating or air drying.

Using fiber reactive dyes for screen printing t-shirt designs

Although fiber-reactive dyes are used to color the fabric, they can also be used to print the design on white cotton T-shirts. Like water-based inks, fiber-reactive dyes have a smooth feel. They also don’t fade or wash off easily.

The fabric can be dipped, sprayed, or stained. It can also be selectively dipped in a dye bath like tie dye or batik. For screen printing, the dyes will need to be mixed with sodium alginate to thicken it to the same consistency as T-shirt screen printing inks. Without the thickener, the dyes will just flow through the screen.

Other T-shirt Printing Methods for Use with Fiber Reactive Dyes

When you know that T-shirts are made from fabrics dyed with fiber reactive dyes, you will be much more prepared to use plastisol coated vinyl for thermal transfer, inkjet or laser ready thermal transfer papers, or direct-to-garment digital screen printing.

Thermal transfer can add more character to the design, especially when you need to personalize the shirt with names, people, or organizations. You can also use craft supplies like glitter, sequins, and beads to add pizzazz and glamor to your t-shirt design. The T-shirt screen printing process is so easy to do that you can work with your kids on this project.

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