20 May 2016

Discharge Printing on Tri-blend T-Shirts

Bella and Canvas tri-blend t-shirts in eight colours with a white water based discharge ink screen print of The T-Shirt Company's Logo

We thought we had covered all of our bases with our now widely viewed original discharge ink blog http://www.tshirtcompany.ie/discharge-ink/ but we were wrong.

With the country going gym and Crossfit mad we have seen a huge demand for our Bella + Canvas and American Apparel tri blend tees. Their soft feel figure-hugging material is perfect for those svelte sweaty gymbods.

As we have been printing an inordinate amount of these tees, particularly the Bella + Canvas, we felt the need to get another blog post up to clearly explain the printing effects of the various inks on the tri-blend t-shirts.

What IS a tri blend t-shirt? That would be a start.

A tri-blend tee is a mixture of three fabrics; cotton, polyester and rayon. The soft cotton fibres are the most dominant, followed by the polyester that gives it its stretchy feel and finally a splash of rayon that is used as a soluble lubricant for the polyester fibres. What does all this mumbo jumbo mean? Well, it means that these three combine to make a very skin friendly t-shirt.

It also means that it reacts differently to our major ink types, namely plastisol and water-based soft feel discharge ink.

4 triblend tees in green, grey,  aqua and true royal blue stacked on top of each other with the t-shirt company logo printed in white discharge waterbased ink visible on each Bella and Canvas t-shirt

The American Apparel tri blend and the Bella + Canvas tee can take both a plastisol ink and a discharge ink

What is Discharge Ink?

Discharge ink works by replacing the colour of the t shirt’s cotton fibres with a fresh colour pigment (in the shape and colours of your artwork) leaving the print soft and fully integrated with the t-shirt, rather than a print on top of it as with a plastisol print.

As this discharge ink only affects the cotton and rayon fibres in the tee, the polyester is left unaffected. The colour of the polyester thread varies from t-shirt to t-shirt. You'll see from the photo below that the white print looks different on the purple tee (on the left) to that of the maroon tee (on the right), this is because the polyester thread in the purple tee is purple and therefore remains un-dyed, giving it the fleck throughout. You can see how we achieve the slightly faded almost vintage look here. Whereas, the white print on the maroon tee is a nice bright white because the polyester thread is white.

Close up of two different coloured tri-blend tees with a white discharge print on front - to show different results with the same ink

The print can fade ever so slightly after its first wash but then it's set for life, completely soft, completely part of the tshirt.

Have a look at our photo below to see the effects of the discharge ink on the different Bella + Canvas tri-blend colours and you’ll see just how varied they are!

Five Bella and Canvas triblend tees in orange, red, blue,  purple and maroon stacked on top of each other with the t-shirt company logo clearly visible showing the different effects of white discharge ink on each colour way.