Recently I have been testing out waterbased discharge ink on 100% cotton and poly-cotton blends as more and more customers are looking to create effects or get a certain look by using specialist inks or techniques, the results have turned out well.
A little background to discharge printing; unlike standard waterbased or plastisol inks where they require a white underbase when printing on dark fabrics, printing discharge does not need an underbase.

Why is discharge printing good? There are a couple of good points. Firstly – you are able to remove a step (the underbase print) from your print job. Secondly – less ink is being added to the fabric, this means that the feel is really light and soft, known in the t-shirt printing world has having a “soft hand” ✋ and ultimately the garment is more comfortable to wear.

On the down side. If you want a very solid colour on a poly-cotton blend that can not be achieved using discharge inks. In addition, if your garment is 100% synthetic a discharge ink will not affect the fabric.

How does it work? Simply put (because I’m no scientist) the ink has a bleaching agent and when cured will remove the original ink colour from the fabric and replace it with the pigment in the discharge ink. The pigment is then a part of the fabric rather than sitting on top like a plastisol ink.

As I mentioned above you can create effects with this technique if you choose the correct garments to work with. Discharge ink only affects cotton, if you choose a 100% cotton the print will be a solid colour as all the fabric will bleach out. If you decide you want a more vintage look to your final print you could use a poly-cotton blend, this means that only the cotton in the fabric will be affected leaving the original colour of the polyester showing through the print. This is certainly something to be aware of prior to requesting discharge inks on your job.

If you are interested in getting that super soft feeling print or natural vintage look on your next order, drop us an email.

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