Where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicolored image or design.
Plastisol is the most common ink used in commercial garment decoration. Good color opacity onto dark garments and clear graphic detail with, as the name suggests, a more plasticized texture. This print can be made softer with special additives or heavier by adding extra layers of ink. Plastisol inks require heat (approx. 150 °C (300 °F) for many inks) to cure the print.
Water-Based inks penetrate the fabric more than the plastisol inks and create a much softer feel. Ideal for printing darker inks onto lighter colored garments. Also useful for larger area prints where texture is important. Some inks require heat or an added catalyst to make the print permanent.
Discharge inks use Zinc Formaldehyde Sulfoxylate to activate the dye in fabric to discharge from the originating fabric. Discharge inks are available in clear or colors. Cons of using discharge inks is that the process only works properly on dark fabrics that have a content of 100% cotton. Fabrics with under-dyes and fabric blends will discharge their dye to different degrees. The fumes resulting from the application and curing are pungent and strong ventilation and a face mask are commonly needed to relieve exposure. Pros to this process is that discharge is especially effective for distressed prints and under-basing on dark garments that are to be printed with additional layers of plastisol. It adds variety to the design and gives it that natural soft feel.
Glitter or Shimmer ink is when metallic flakes become an additive in the ink base to create this sparkle effect. Usually available in gold or silver but can be mixed to make most colors.
Foil starts with an adhesive glue or plastisol ink base layer. Foil is finished by applying a thin sheet of reflective/mirror like material on top of the screened base, then heat pressed to set. The foil substrate does not adhere to non-screened areas of the design, and the balance of the foil sheet is discarded.