Discharge Printing: All you Need to Know

If your looking for something different and want to use a process that is bang on trend, then look no further!

In the past the norm for screen printing onto dark garments was a plastisol ink, which is an oil based ink that you can feel sitting on the surface on the garment. Discharge is specialty ink that gives you another option, allowing you to take your prints into the future with a funky approach.

Now there are a few things to consider when using this process and it is important for you to know what to expect. Here at Omen printing are passionate about educating our clients so that you can make the best decision for you!!

The Discharge process it is best described as a type of bleach, it works by extracting the colour out of the shirt and depositing colour directly into the fabric. This allows you to avoid having a white base to achieve colour vibrancy. Usually when you print onto dark garments you need a white base for your design to sit on as most colours are very translucent and you don’t want a dull print, you want the colours to pop! Not only is Discharge an awesome process it can save the $$$ on a one colour print as you avoid a second screen set up and base print fees… Woohoo!!

The above print is using a raw Discharge as the frame to the design; notice the raw discharge is just revealing the natural cotton under the black dye. This design then uses a second colour with an off white Discharge ink to complement the natural cotton colour and achieve a great sense of depth.

The natural cotton that is revealed is the base that the colours sit on, as you can see it is not the crisp white that would be used in a plastisol print so bare in mind it will affect the colour vibrancy.

When using the raw Discharge it is important to remember that we are revealing whatever is lying underneath the coloured dye. It is impossible for us to know exactly what colour is underneath but usually it is along these lines, and please be aware that its completely out of our control which shade of cotton the supplier used in manufacturing, if you use a premium garment supplier then the risk is far lower as they are much more consistent in production. This can be taken as a positive or a negative and is for you to decide. If you are after complete colour accuracy then this process is probably not for you, however if you are able to embrace the slight colour variance then this can add a unique quality to your design.

The question you need to ask yourself is what matters more to you…. Colour vibrancy or a soft in the t-shirt feel?

We can use a combination of processes with a white Discharge base and Plastisol to meet somewhere in the middle as shown in the print below, we also have methods to soften the Plastisol so you can achieve the softest vibrant print possible. Our design team is happy to discuss this with you and will make a recommendation specific to your design.

Without getting too technical Discharge ink only works on 100% cotton, this is not to say that you can’t use it on a material like a marl that is made up of a few materials. The discharge element of the ink will only extract the colour out of the cotton parts, revealing a speckled effect to your print. The print below demonstrates this with just a single pass of a white Discharge ink, if you would like you can double hit the ink creating deeper colour vibrancy and hiding the speckled effect more.

Please remember that this process can be used on all coloured garments when printing a lighter colour onto a darker colour but be aware that some colours do work better than other. You are also able to use it on all sorts of garments, probably the most exciting is different types of jumpers as a soft feel goes hand in hand. We have had some great results and are very excited as we are one of the only screen printers to offer this process on jumpers.

If this is something that you would like to investigate for your next print run then get in touch and ask us how it will work for you 🙂