Another printing methods- flex and flockOctober 17th, 2018 / Prints on clothing
In the previous post (that you can read here), we compared two very popular printing techniques – screen printing and digital printing, also called DTG. These are the most universal ways to decorate clothing in the most flexible and durable way. However, there are at least a few more methods to print different patterns on clothing. In this post I would like to describe two techniques,( actually one with one variation) that allow to achieve interesting results. This time we take on flex and flock under the scope.
We do not always want to print complicated patterns that have tonal transitions or imaging photographs. Sometimes it will be a logotype or a relatively simple graphic consisting of no more than 3 colors. For this purpose, the flex or flock method will be ideal. Flex and flock are prints of the so-called plotter, made by heat-sealing a special film at high temperature (about 170 degrees Celsius) under high pressure. The limit for this method is just the number of colors, usually it will be no more than 3.
For printing, it is necessary to prepare graphics in a vector form. The previously made project is cut out by the plotter on the transfer foil in a suitable, selected color. Then unnecessary pieces of foil are meticulously and gently removed manually from the transparent layer, which serves as the basis for proper printing. When all the necessary sheets are ready, put them one by one on the shirt on which we want to print and with the help of a special press it welds into the material for about 15 seconds. Repeat the operation for each color, first removing the transparent foil after each finished layer.
Flex is printing with a smooth, slightly shiny surface, slightly resembling latex paint. On the other hand, flock is a velvet, matt feel similar to a nap. These techniques, as I mentioned earlier, are ideal for making company t-shirts or simple graphic designs. Their profitability is the same for each successive piece of art and does not decrease / increases with the size of the effort.
Due to the durability of the print, it ranks behind digital printing and screen printing. It is true that the manufacturers ensure that such prints can withstand long-term use, however, after the first few washes, the quality of the printed imprint is noticeable. It also happens that imprints – especially Flock – begin to crumble and crack at the time of use, especially at the edges of the print. The material from which the transfer foil is made does not tolerate the stretching of the material very well. Currently, thin films are used more and more often, which behave much better when used and maintained. There are more and more films available on the market that allow you to achieve interesting effects, such as glossy or fluorescent print.
To sum up, if you are looking for the possibility of making few copies of a T-shirt, for example, a company or an advertising one, having only your logo, lettering or simple graphics – flex and flock are suitable for this. The cost of each subsequent t-shirt will be the same, you do not have to worry about storing the sieves (if you want to order a print later) and you can order more at any time. The only thing that will be needed then is a file with a saved pattern vector. The biggest downside, however, is the durability of the print. In spite of the materials of better quality, one must reckon with the fact that graphics applied to textiles in one of the above-described ways, during intensive use, will gradually look worse.
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