Discharge Screen Printing

Discharge Screen Printing In San Diego

Here at Extra Graphic, we get plenty of questions about the types of screen printing we use.  What are the different ways to print?  What is used in the printing process? Which printing type gives me the look I want for my design? What is the best print type that will give me the most bang out of my buck?  Well, no worries, our printing experts are here to help you decide which type of printing will be best for your project.  One of the different types of print we offer is known as discharge printing.

What is Discharge Printing?

Discharge printing is a screen printing process using the same equipment and techniques as regular screen printing, but instead of normal ink, this uses a special discharge ink that removes the color from the shirt instead of adding color on top of it.  This gives the print more of a vintage feel.  The process is similar to bleaching, but without damaging the fibers of the shirt.  It can be used alone or can be used as a base to add other colors or pigments on top. Pigmenting the discharged print can be tricky, as it doesn’t always keep the right color.   Darker colored shirts are recommended to use for discharge printing.

Discharge printing works best with 100% cotton shirts, but it can work with some blends, too.  This is because the discharge agent in the ink works well with natural fibers.  Blends with polyester might not discharge as well, as it is more difficult for the agent to strip the color from the polyester fibers.

Aren’t Discharge Printing And Water Based Printing The Same Thing?

They are, but at the same time, they’re not.  They do go through a similar process, however, there is one huge difference.  Even though all discharge ink is water-based, not all water-based ink is discharge ink.  Discharge ink has a special additive called Zinc Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate (or ZFS for short) which is the agent that allows the ink to remove the color from the shirt to create the print design.  With that said, this is why discharge printing works best with darker colored shirts and water-based printing works best with lighter colored shirts.  Unlike water-based printing, discharge printing uses heat to activate the ZFS.

What Are Some Of The Advantages Of Discharge Printing?

  • Discharge printing works great with bigger designs. Compared to plastisol ink which is heavier, discharge printing can give you that really big design you want without the extra weight.  This works well if you want a more lightweight shirt.
  • Sometimes with plastisol ink, important details of the design can lose their integrity. But with discharge printing, those tiny details won’t be missed and your design will maintain its awesomeness.
  • Shirts that are super soft and comfortable to wear are always a plus. Shirts printed with discharge ink keep their soft looks and feel compared to shirts printed with plastisol.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Discharge Printing?

Of course, everything has a downside.  Luckily, discharge printing doesn’t have many disadvantages.  Having to wash your custom-printed shirts before wearing them is one of the disadvantages of discharge printing.  This is to achieve that “no feel” state of not being able to feel the ink on top of the shirt.  Another disadvantage is the fact that production time is longer than normal screen printing.  This is because of the fact that the ZFS in discharge ink needs heat in order to activate it.  A discharge printed shirt is cured at 320 degrees for at least 60 to 90 seconds.

Is Discharge Printing Toxic?

The Zinc Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate (ZFS) in the discharge ink may have a scary name, but it is fairly harmless when used in discharge inks.  The majority of the agent is cooked off during the curing process. However, some of the chemical agents may remain in the print after curing and can cause minor skin irritations in some people.  This is another reason why it’s very important to wash your discharge printed shirt before wearing it.

What Is Considered As Discharge Friendly Fabric?

We know that 100% cotton is best for discharge printing because the discharge agent works best with natural fibers, but some blends work great too! When discharging with a heather or tri-blend shirt, the effect might not be as bright, depending on the color of the polyester in the blend.  For example, the discharge ink is unable to strip the color from black polyester at all. So if you’re looking to discharge print your design on a black shirt, we would recommend one made from 100% cotton.

Why Choose Extra Graphic For Your Discharge Printing Needs?

  • We’ve been custom screen printing for over 15 years now and we know the ins and outs of making your design look its best with any style of printing we offer.
  • We offer a large selection of apparel styles for printing.
  • We strive to give you the best-printed apparel possible.
  • We’re affordably priced.
  • You can order anytime, we’ll keep pace with your schedule.
  • Fast Turnaround! Most orders are ready in 7-10 business days.
  • Your orders are always delivered as promised. On-time, accurate, and with the best quality in San Diego.

At Extra Graphic, our team has over 80 years of combined experience in apparel decorating and promotional branding.  We are always happy to help you choose the right type of printing for your project’s needs.  You are also more than welcome to stop by our studio on Iowa Street to see and feel the differences in the types of printing we offer for yourself.  When you walk into our doors, you will receive friendly service, creative insight, and open communication from the beginning of your project all the way to the very end.  Being the local leader of high-quality apparel printing in San Diego, we guarantee the quality of your printed projects. When other printers disappoint, Extra Graphic delivers!

Call us for more info at  (619)-354-XTRA today!