26 Oct 2015

Discharge ink

What is this discharge ink we keep harping on about?

Discharge t-shirts folded_opt(2)

Before your favourite black ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ t-shirt, which you bought years ago, was black, it was, like all other colour t-shirts, a neutral off-white colour; the natural base colour of woven cotton. It's from this point that all t-shirts are dyed into a variety of colours.

And then, well, that's where we come in!

Discharge ink removes the dye from the t-shirt. This exposes the natural colour of the cotton which is then 're-dyed' using pigments that are resistant to the bleaching qualities in the discharge ink.

The fibres of the shirt are recoloured so your t-shirt and print can breathe. Have a look at the photo below and you'll see a close up of some discharge prints. As you can see, the finished product is still all t-shirt and no heavy deposit of ink, which is what you would get with a traditional plastisol print.

Discharge print close up_opt

There are, however, certain limitations to its powers:

It won't work on royal blue, kelly green and purple material.

It gives interesting/great (depending on your taste) results on polycotton and triblend t-shirts, we'll explain this further in the triblend discharge blog post, coming soon!

We are proud to say that we’re pioneers of discharge ink in Ireland and are the only commercial printer offering these super soft prints.

Here are some of the FAQs:

Why don't other printers offer it?

It's a much harder ink to use, the dye removing agents shorten the lifespan of the screens. One of the biggest issues of all is that it dries into the mesh so if you turn your back for a second, your screen is ruined. All the same, as you’ll see, the finished t-shirts are worth it.

Why should I go for discharge?

If you're looking for a really soft print that is part of the shirt rather than a raised print that sits on the top, discharge is your only man.

Do the colours pop and can we match pantones?

Discharge ink gives a matt, slightly muted, finish, so if it's bright bright you want, Plastisol is a better choice for you. It's not as easy to match a pantone colour with discharge ink as we're dealing with the duel process of removing the original ink and re-colouring it. Most colours can be matched but some shades are trickier than others and this is something to be aware of.

Does the print stand the test of time?

Well, when the shirt rolls through the dryer, the print is very bright and there is a slight handle (technical printing term for you can feel the print slightly). After one wash you can't feel the print at all and the colour will fade ever so slightly. It will then hold its colour for years and just age with the rest of the t-shirt as that's what it is, at one with a beautiful t-shirt and not a just a print stuck on top.

If it were us, we'd go for a discharge print all the time, but it's a matter of personal preference and it depends on your brief. Hopefully this post will help you out. Having said that, it's hard to convey just how soft something is in a photo so if you want to drop by, you're more than welcome. Be warned, though, we can drone on about this ink for hours!