How long does a print on a t-shirt last? For many people, clothes have become not only an object of practical use, but also a way of self-expression. Therefore, more and more often people want to stand out with the help of bright and original prints on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, caps, eco-bags, etc. Current technologies allow you to apply a pattern of any complexity on clothes. But the client immediately faces the question of the wear resistance of the product and which method of applying it to the fabric is better?

It should be said right away that wear resistance is a relative concept, for some people easy erasure, ink fading or vintage effect is an advantage, for others it is unacceptable. In other words, longevity is often subjective. Along with this, it is important to take into account the fact that there is no perfect way to apply prints. Each of the application methods has advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we consider each type individually, depending on the customer’s tasks. The durability of the print depends on:

  • type and technology of printing (including equipment, consumables in the form of paints, inks, staff skills, use of special effects);
  • print layout;
  • quality and composition of knitwear;
  • wear and care (cleaning method, temperature, cleaning agents, etc.)

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To begin with, an overview of printing types:

Silk screen printing is one of the oldest existing application methods and remains relevant today. Along with this, the stencil application method itself does not stop – it is being improved with the expansion of the offer of all kinds of special effects. The principle of the stencil method is as follows. Before the process begins, the image is divided into colors, each color has its own stencil. The frames are sequentially placed on clothes or bags and filled with paint of the appropriate color. We have described more about silk screen printing on fabric and T-shirts here.

Digital direct printing is a technology of image on the product using a textile printer. To create a print, special natural water-based inks, resistant to washing, are used. The ink is environmentally friendly, so clothes with such prints can be safely worn on the naked body without fear of an allergic reaction. Read more about direct digital printing on fabrics and T-shirts here.

Thermal transfer is a very broad concept that includes several types of application, their common characteristic is the transfer of the image to an intermediate medium, and then under a hot press to the product. Thermal transfer technology allows you to get a one- or three-color print on anything – t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, polo shirts or cut-out canvases, of any length and width up to 50 cm continuous line. We have described more about transfer printing on fabric and T-shirts here.

Sublimation – sublimation paper is used to transfer the image, on which the image is applied before printing on the product. Then the carrier is placed on the jersey and the paper design is transferred. This method is suitable for fabrics with a high polyester content, around 65% or more. This is the best option for this type of canvas. This method makes it possible to obtain high-quality photographic drawings. Another condition is that the base must be light in color. The high quality of the resulting knitwear has led to the popularity of sublimation.

Embroidery and chevrons – embroidery can advantageously emphasize those places that we want to draw attention to. And vice versa, turn away from those places that it is not profitable for us to emphasize. In hard-to-reach places, a chevron or patch will come to the rescue. It is made on a piece of cloth of the desired color, and then it is stitched with an ordinary stitch (a straight line) on the clothes in the right place. This eliminates the need to split and sew clothes, which when working with some types of fabrics, such as knitwear, may not have a good effect on the appearance of the final result.

So which is better in terms of durability? The question often arises, what is better: silk-screen printing or thermal printing, sublimation or direct printing, or maybe embroidery?

Print layout

If we consider digital or sublimation printing, then the complexity of the pattern does not affect wear resistance. If the drawing is transferred using a thermal transfer or a silk screen, the number of colors in the layout affects the level of durability, because each added color is a separate layer of paint. Accordingly, the fewer layers, the less the print will be subject to physical changes, as a result of which the design on the T-shirt will last longer.

Of course, if it is done by a professional, everything will be of high quality and durable, but we recommend simplifying layouts not only because such layouts will most likely be more durable, but also because simplicity and brevity are currently in trend.

Fabric quality and composition

As you know, each material perceives ink in its own way – it all depends on the texture, weave, composition, that is, the same shade of color printed on different fabrics will look different. So if you are making the same print but on different bases, you will need to make a different color test for each one.

The key indicator of product quality is the density and composition of the fabric from which it is made. The density is measured in grams per square meter and ranges from 90 to 250 grams, depending on the type and quality of the product. The higher the density of the knitted fabric, the higher the wear resistance of the products. For high-quality application, the composition of the fabric and its quality are important. Basically, cotton, mixed and synthetic base are used:

  • Cotton and blended fabrics are used for direct digital printing – blended fabrics in a combination of 95% cotton and 5% lycra (elastane).
  • Synthetic materials are used mainly for sublimation.
  • All types of material, including synthetic ones, are suitable for silk-screen printing.

Another important indicator is how sensitive the base of the T-shirt is to shrinkage. The higher the quality, the less shrinkage, which means that the products wear out less. However, almost all materials are subject to varying degrees of shrinkage after washing.

Therefore, we recommend that you study the properties of the bases in advance and see samples of prints on our fabric in the Singleprint salon on the street. Turivska, 4. We recommend printing on our materials, as they have been selected and tested over the years, which we regularly buy from manufacturers who adhere to the stated quality standards.

Before choosing our suppliers, many tests were carried out, including undesirable results. Even on customer fabrics and finished products (for example: due to fluffiness, the print remains uneven or after exposure to a temperature of 160 degrees when drying products under a press), the synthetic thread is damaged, leaving reddish-brown spots, on average they appear after 3-5 days).

“Non-hairiness” of the material is a very important element that affects how your drawing will look. For example, maybe after applying a picture using the silk screen method, you will see “bumps” of paint. Once, such an effect occurred when a client brought his products with high fluffiness, which is not immediately visible on a “blank” t-shirt (without a picture), this effect was not present with our pre-tested copies with the same layout.
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Wear and care

When ordering clothes with a print, you plan to wear them for at least a few years. However, it sometimes happens that after washing it loses its presentability: the print becomes unclear, the T-shirt stretches or shrinks. This does not mean that the product is of poor quality. The main reason is improper care of the product. Basic care recommendations:

  • It is important to wash clothes in the conditions indicated on the label. If the washing temperature is exceeded or the wrong mode is selected, it can quickly fade, and the print itself can be deformed or cracked. Knitwear manufacturers often attach small pieces of fabric to shirts. They are needed to be able to wash them and to monitor the change in the condition of the material before the main wash.
  • Do not overdo it with detergents. Even the best print can come off the product if the concentration of the detergent is exceeded.
  • Things with pictures cannot be twisted by hand. It can spoil them. It’s best to let these things dry on their own.
  • Some products with a color print are best turned inside out to protect the pattern from damage in the washing machine drum.
  • Do not get carried away with ironing things with a print. Films melt very quickly, even under a regular iron. The solution is to turn the clothes inside out.

How to care for things with a print is described in more detail in our article.

In conclusion, each print has its own advantages and nuances and you should choose the appropriate type of transfer depending on the tasks, circulation, budget and time.