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Screen Printing on Performance Apparel: Where Design Meets Performance

Gym class team wearing custom t-shirts and coach wearing custom hats with Under Armour crewneck.

It’s sports season and time to gear up in custom team uniforms. The popularity of performance fabrics has risen. Sports teams, fitness clubs and active individuals are more and more looking for polyester fabrics that are moisture wicking, breathable and anti-microbial. Performance fabrics contain the promise of keeping you dry and sweat-free as you work out.

We often get asked whether screen printing is an effective decoration method on these performance fabrics. The answer is yes, plastisol ink lasts just as long and is just as durable when printing on moisture wicking fabric as printing on cotton shirts. Polyester shirts go through the same screen printing process as cotton t-shirts, but to ensure your print looks great and lasts longer, Entripy has made a few adjustments to enhance the quality of print on these special materials.

Cure at Lower Temperatures

Ink is cured when the screen printed garment is placed on a conveyer belt and passed through a dryer which is heated to a high temperature, causing the ink to set in place on the garment.

Polyester is known to be more difficult to screen print on because of dye migration, a process where small particles of dye migrate from the fabric to the ink, causing the ink to change in colour. Some colours such as red, forest green and blue have a higher tendency to “bleed”. Dye migration happens during the ink curing process and is common when dryer temperatures reach higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Entripy is able to avoid dye migration on performance fabrics by using a low-cure temperature ink, this is a specially formulated ink which can cure at 285-300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yellow custom t-shirts coming out from the drying conveyer belt.

Designing for Performance Apparel

To ensure the best performance of your custom apparel, we recommend selecting designs containing only one or two colours. We also recommend selecting a lighter design as designs that cover a large portion of your shirt can prevent your shirt from performing its best. Because ink is not breathable, over-embellishing the garment with a large, heavy design reduces the garment’s moisture wicking and breathability properties.

This is particularly important when screen printing on mesh fabrics such as mesh basketball custom jerseys. The more ink that is used in the decorating process, the more mesh holes will fill with ink, reducing the garment’s performance ability. A lighter, hairline design is best for these garments.

Stretching Performance Fabrics

We often get asked whether screen printing with plastisol inks on performance garments made with lycra or spandex will interfere with the apparel’s ability to stretch. To preserve the garment’s performance, Entripy uses a high stretch additive which is added to the ink before printing to ensure that the ink stretches as the fabric stretches, allowing your design to look great in any activity.

Custom printed t-shirts on screen-printing machines with custom logos.

Whether you’re looking for custom jerseys to outfit your sports team, tank tops or custom polos to promote your fitness studio, or custom t-shirts for a charity run, Entripy can help you find a custom performance product to suit your unique needs.