fabric discoloration

Ghosting: Fabric Discoloration Test

Ray Smith has been in the screen-printing industry since 1978. He has been involved as an art director, production manager, plant manager and business owner. He re-joined Wilflex in 2008 as the applications lab manager. Smith is currently the senior business development manager at PolyOne.

When talking about a ghost image, the actual cause of the discoloring is due to the deterioration of one of the dyes in the fabric. This most often happens from the pigment degradation of yellow dyes. This creates discoloration in the form of blemishing a light green shirt into a blue ghost image. This is true with other colors as well. To test a garment for discoloration, follow these five steps:

  1. Print ink onto suspect fabric and cure the ink.
  2. Cover the print area with a piece of the suspect fabric (sandwiching the print) and place in a heat transfer press.
  3. Set the heat press to 200 F and 5 PSI.
  4. Close the transfer press and leave on a timer for four hours before visual evaluation. If the material is prone to discoloration, you will see a “ghost” image of your printed image on the material that was covering the printed area.
  5. You may opt for a quick test, use the same parameters, but lay a dampened piece of material on top of the garment; this will introduce the water element. Check the garment after 3–4 minutes, and you may have your answer. 

Happy ghost busting!