Metal foil printing is another way to decorate your garment .

Digital Direct SFX

Paul Green has been in product development for direct-to-garment printers for almost two decades. After hours, he is a fine artist. His artwork can be seen in group art shows around Southern California.

The process of metal foil printing is another way to decorate your garment with direct-to-garment printers. The process is quite simple and not much different than printing a dark garment. Metal foil can be purchased from most any screen printing supplier and is relatively inexpensive. This process can be achieved using Epson-based print head technology. Here, we’ll walk through the simple process to produce this eye-catching embellishment on both light and dark garments. 

Flashy art

Graphics that are line art or lettering are best suited for foil print applications since it is basically a one-color print. Metal foil has a transparency to it so the color behind it will have a drastic effect on your final print. This can also create multiple colors with just using something like silver foil on top. The rule of thumb is to make your graphic as close to the same color as the foil you are printing. For this application, we will be using gold foil, so the graphic would be a golden yellow. 

The amount of ink used when printing foil is very important. A small amount of white under base is used with a heavy-color pass. The settings you will want to use are as follows: 

White Ink Settings: Medium to light, just enough to create a light, solid white under-base.

Color Ink Settings: You will want to put down a good amount of color, about two times the amount used for traditional light shirt printing. You want a solid print with no imperfections.

Foil finish

Once you have printed a solid image onto the garment, immediately take it to the heat press. Have a foil square cut out just a little bigger than the printed image and place it foil-side-up on top of the print. Place a new sheet of parchment paper on top, remembering that wrinkles in the parchment paper will show in the foil. Press the shirt with a medium pressure at the temperature recommended for dark shirts (i.e. 330º for 90 seconds). It is very important that the heat press is not clamped down with too much pressure. A sign of using too much pressure is the appearance of small amounts of foil around the print area. This can be gently rubbed off or will wash out, but can be avoided completely by adjusting for lighter clamp pressure.

After the heat press is finished curing, let the garment cool down for about 30 seconds until the foil is cool to the touch. Grab the corners of the foil on one side and peel it off slowly and evenly. The foil will stick to areas where ink was printed for a unique print.

Metal foil is a product to offer your customers as part of digital printing capabilities. As the technology continues to advance, possibilities with your direct-to-garment printer are endless.