SFX 101

How to Get Started with Special Effects in Screen Printing

Kieth is the Western regional sales manager for International Coatings (ICC). He has been screen printing for over 37 years, teaching screen printing for over 12 years and is a regular contributor to the International Coatings blog. He also won a 2014 Golden Image Award from SGIA.

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Incorporating special effects can boost your bottom line. Don’t be intimidated by these specialty inks; incorporate them into your offerings. Overcome the myth that special effects inks are hard to use—research what is available and which effects you like. Start out with ones that don’t require extra equipment (as with flock or foil effects) such as a puff agent or shimmer. Then, get a small quantity of special effects ink and test-print it to see what the printed effect looks like.

To start, it may be best to incorporate only a small part of a design using the special effects ink. Keep in mind that certain inks, such as texture-retaining inks, work best with simpler designs. And, with expanding inks (those with a puff-type effect), designs must accommodate for the ink expansion.

Certain effects, such as high density, may require thicker ink deposits, in which case a thicker emulsion layer may be needed (or the addition of a capillary film). It may also need special attention in regard to print sequence. High density or glitter inks may need to be printed last.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask your screen print supplier for any help regarding special effects printing or any other questions you may have. Use them as a resource.