October already? Well, aside from the insane speed in which summer seemed to come and go, hoodie and sweater printing time is here!
Anyone who has printed a large order of hoodies can attest to the challenges it brings to press operators and to the day's production schedule. Although the chance of running a multicolor hoodie job as fast as a multicolor T-shirt job is unlikely, you can fine-tune the speed and quality to make the most out of your order.
SUCCESS CHEAT SHEET:
- Web tack
- Triple durometer squeegee
- Use an in-line iron (or stomp roller)
For easy access, copy and paste this list to your overall shop cheat sheet.
Make sure you adjust either your center shaft on-contact adjustment or your individual head off-contact—pending what type of press you are running. You always want to make sure you are keeping at least 1/8th of an inch off-contact. Most people have their presses set for T-shirts but forget to adjust them when placing a thicker garment on the platen. If we don't maintain the level of off-contact, the screen won't snap back after the squeegee pull. This can cause the screen to hang in ink and stick up on the pullback. Think about a stucco ceilings texture. You don't want that to happen.
The inside of a hoodie is nothing like a T-shirt. Often, hoodies will have a thick nap, meaning they are very fibrous. Using a standard spray tack or a roll-on tack will end up either getting covered too quickly in fibers to work or will just soak into the fibers stuck on the platen. Using a spray web tack is the best way to go. This variety shoots out like a web and has a higher tack level. Although this is your best option, you still don't want to spray a lot. Too much of it and pulling the hoodie off the tacky platen can get tiresome after hundreds of hoodies.
TRIPLE DUROMETER SQUEEGEES
Now, this one is for sure more of a personal preference thing. You can make lots of different durometer squeegees work for this. However, I, along with hundreds of shops I've worked with, have found that using a 65/90/65 triple durometer squeegee for hoodies (and lots of other uses) helps to lay down a good shear of ink that allows you to envelop the fibers on most hoodies. This results in a solid and soft print with little fibrillation.
IN-LINE IRON or STOMP ROLLER
If you have an automatic press and don't have, at the least, a stomp roller, you need to stop reading this and order one, then make sure you come back for this valuable tip. A stomp roller irons out the ink while it's still warm after you print your underbase and flash. A stomp roller along with a Teflon sheet in the screen helps ensure fibers are flat and allows for a much cleaner and better second layer, and so on. If you have the resources, check out a heated in-line roller for your automatic press. Most manufacturers offer one. The result is just like what happens if you heat press a print after the dryer. Your prints will forever be softer and smoother!