About the Process Sooz offers
sometimes the path to your destination is not necessarily a straight line.

The section introduces you to the technology that is available.
Each has an advantage, but likewise has limitations,
which should be understood in order to make an informed choice.


Screen Printing: The process of screen printing, sometimes called Silk Screening or serigraphy, is the application of ink onto fabric using a stencil that is attached to a screen material. The stencil is typically a emulsion that is applied and developed using a positive, and, much like photography, that results in a corresponding negative image being left on the screen when developed. When the unexposed emulsion (that area under the positive) is washed off the screen material is left open so ink can pass onto the fabric. Multi colored prints are applied in a sequence starting with the lighter colors and progressing to the darkest color with the use of a printing carousel. The carousel has arms that hold the screens in a raised position so they can be rotated into location for each color print to a platen or shirt board. Alignment is held to a very tight tolerance so each color print aligns to the previous print and results in an image with clarity and clean colors. Blends of two colors can be used to create a third color by use of "half tones" which is a process similar to that of color prints in newspapers where small dots of color are added until the blend results in the desired color. The finished product is then dried and is now ready for use.

Embroidery: Embroidery is a process by which a design or image is produced by sewing thread in a pattern that best represents the layout of the artwork. Different sewing styles are available to choose from to create the best combination representing the desired image. Using a computer digitizing software package, the artist matches the design layout, the colors, and texture of the artwork, taking into account the image size and material on which it is being applied, to create the best combination that represents the customer's idea.


CAD Cut Vinyl: Using a special cutter driven by computer software the vinyl is cut to the designed shape. Vinyl not needed in the image is removed (weeded) which leaves the finished design. The vinyl is heat applied to fabric which fuses it for a strong and permanent bond. Vinyl offers many advantages over screen printing since it brings it's own backing material which allows it to be applied to a larger range of materials. Vinyl also comes in metallic foil and reflective colors which offer an additional dimension to the image. Reflective and non-reflective vinyl can be mixed to produce special effects when seen at night.

Trivia you likely didn't need to know: Prior to use of large inkjet printers there were CAD (Computer Aided Design) printers that used small ink pens to "plot" out a drawing or blueprints. These plotters would run the pen left to right across the paper (for lines going up or down) and rolls the paper in and out to make the lines travel lengthwise. It was quite a sight to see these plotters run since they would take quite a bit of time and had a continuous series of motors noises and pen tapping as the image drew. Several years ago industry discovered that the pen could be replace with a knife that would cut instead of print and a new industry was born.

Transfers: There are two type of transfers available for printing. One consists of a plastic sheet that is printed and fused onto a garment (left below). It has a smooth feel and very clear image but is a plastic sheet and is somewhat stiff. This type of transfer works best with dark fabrics or fabrics that have a large weave such as pique (woven golf shirts for example). A second method of transferring an image uses a reverse image that is printed onto a plastic material which is in turn pressed onto the fabric and peeled when hot, leaving an impression on a slight residual material (see Shiloh Church image below). After washing, the image is similar to screen printing and soft to the touch, however it can only be used on lighter colored shirts due to it's transparency. Both techniques have the advantage of little preparation time to print and are cost effective for small quantities. The outline of transfers can be CAD cut to trim excess material before applying.



Dye Sublimation: You would recognize the end products that use dye sublimation when you see the clean crisp images. The process consists of three elements: polyester, special ink, and heat. A printer using special ink makes an image on receiver paper in a reverse image. The reversed image is placed on the polyester coated or polyester based item and heat applied (about 400 degrees. Very hot!) under high pressure (heat pressed). The ink vaporizes and is received into the polyester. Once the image is transferred the end product is now fully ready for use. Typical items for dye sublimation are coffee mugs, decorative plates, tiles, ornaments, polyester fabrics such as shirts, napkins, and aprons. Polyester coatings can be applied to other items but they have to be smooth to assure a uniform contact for the sublimation process to occur.