Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Better Screens Make Better T-Shirts

Screen Exposure Test ReviewMr. Terrific Knows Custom T-ShirtsCloseup of Screen Print Exposure Test Review
Evaluating Completed Screen Exposure Test
Say, what's this guy doing you might ask?

We'll, that guy is Felipe and he is one of TerrificT's resident screen-print guru's.

What Felipe is doing is reviewing a Screen Exposure Test with what we printers call a 'Loop', which magnifies small details such as halftone dots.

You see, being at the top of your game as a Custom T-shirt & Apparel Screen-Printer is not a matter of just slapping ink on a shirt.

To be the best, you MUST constantly set time aside for research and development, as well as, monitoring your screen and print standards to ensure you are within your acceptable production tolerances. I don't know what it is about screen printers in general, but dang I wish more took quality seriously. Unfortunately, the unwary t-shirt buyer only sees price much of the time until it is too late.

Why Your Screen Printer Should Use A Screen Exposure Calculator

Screen exposure tests matter, yet many screen printers don't bother to do them. An exposure test is done to determine the proper amount of exposure time for making screens. A test film positive, aka exposure calculator,  is used to create a multiple step exposure of a detailed test image (basically a step-wedge test). For example, a test pattern of varying line weights and halftone dots will be repeated 10 times on one piece of artwork. A tinted filter is placed over this test image with an increasingly darker tint on each repeated test image. After making one screen with the test image, you effectively have the same image repeated 10 times, but each exposed with a different amount of light . Each exposure step represents a factor of the test exposure time. The results are analyzed for edge definition, detail and complete exposure.  The best result determines the optimum exposure time.

Illustration: 10 Step Exposure Test Image
Illustration: 10 Step Exposure Test Image

An exposure test is needed to ensure that a screen will print the best detail possible. If a screen is underexposed, detail will be blown out, often seen as blurry edges or white underbases 'creeping' because they are not fully trapped by overprinting ink colors - underexposed screens allow too much ink. Underexposure will also cause screens to breakdown in production, producing unwanted dots in the imprint area (pinholes) and likely ruining screens in successive print jobs because ink will physically bond with the screen mesh and ,unbeknownst to less experienced printers,  block detail when the screens are used again on future print jobs.

If a screen is overexposed, there will be a loss of detail, especially noticeable with fine lines, small fonts, and halftones. For toned or 4-color process images, this dot loss will make images look washed out and often create unwanted moire patterns.

A screen-printer must perform exposure tests for all the different screen types they use. For instance, depending upon the print shop, several different mesh counts are used. In layman's terms, mesh count refers to how large the openings are of the screen mesh. Printers use  larger openings to print more ink and finer meshes to print detail.

Exposure tests are not a one-time event. Being a great screen printer is hard work. Several variables, such as, humidity, art quality (film density or dmax), exposure light degeneration and others, merit frequent tests. I recommend weekly tests, incorporated into the workflow, but monthly tests will suffice.

Bottom line: A screen printer cannot guess proper screen exposure times - exposure tests must be performed. Precisely exposed screens will always produce sharper, detailed images. Sure, you can produce bad prints with good screens if you don't know what you are doing, but that's putting the 'cart before the horse' - first you must start with excellent screens, then worry about good printing habits.

Super Screens Make Super Prints On T-shirts.
See more examples of great t-shirt screen printing

examples of great t-shirt screen printing

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How To Order Soccer Team Shirts Online

Soccer T-Shirt Design TemplateSpring is here and it's time to order t-shirts for your kid's soccer team. I am referring to 'Fun' shirts for the kids. So where do you start? How about online. It's quick, easy, and low priced.

Pick The Right T-Shirt

This part is actually quite easy. The two most popular t-shirts are either 100% cotton or 50/50 blends (50% polyester, 50% cotton). You really can't go wrong either way. I prefer cotton because it is softer. Also, for colored t-shirts, like red, 100% cotton prints better. On blends, white ink on red can turn pink because of the way blends are dyed (this is a whole other topic altogether).

As for Brand, Gildan is the number one selling brand in the world for a reason - great quality and a low price. That said, it comes down to preference. They really are all made pretty much the same, so whether you buy Gildan, Hanes, Fruit of The Loom or Jerzees, you will have a quality t-shirt.

All you need is a basic t-shirt, which comes down to comparing weight & fabric content.
  1. 100% Cotton 5.3oz - (recommended Gildan 5000 Adult & Gildan 5000B Youth)
  2. 100% Cotton 6.1oz (recommended Glidan 2000 Adult & Gildan 2000B Youth)
  3. 50/50 Blend 5.5oz (recommended Glidan 8000 Adult & Gildan 8000B Youth)
The Gildan 2000 at 6.1 oz is just heavier. The 5000 is becoming more popular because the trend is towards lighter weight fabrics. Beyond that, there are a multitude of different t-shirts available, which can get quite confusing. Most are a variety of different fashion forward type styles, that are likely NOT what you are looking for.

Why buy 50/50? It used to be that folks worried about cotton shrinking. This concern is a thing of the past, since all the major brands, pre-shrink their 100% cotton fabrics. The main reason for 50/50 would be wrinkle free drying. Not a huge issue, but if your clothes sit in the dryer for hours after the cycle completes, you will find 50/50 is wrinkle free compared to cotton, which should be pulled out of the dryer while still warm.

Design Your Soccer Shirt Online

Example of Online T-shirt Template Personlized

Use a Stock  Soccer Template

This is where the fun starts. Look for a website that offers templates you can modify. You should be able to change the text, change the colors and swap the graphics. If you have a team logo, you can easily incorporate it into the design. With these customization options, you can make a template look like your own.

Unrelated Template Before Customization

Modify An Unrelated Template

This is a little trick that will give you a lot more options for designing your t-shirt online. Maybe the soccer templates just don't do it for you. So why not modify another template to get what you want? In this example, we start with a generic "Collegiate" style design. We simply edit the text, then added a soccer ball from the website clip-art library. Viola, we have a brand new soccer design.
Unrelated Template After Customization

Have The T-Shirt Printer Design It For You

If you don't have time to design, ask the screen printer to do it for you. Online custom apparel companies will do this, usually for a very small fee. The best way to do this is send the t-shirt company a Quote Request.

Many online t-shirt companies have a quote request feature on their website. If not, just email them. Include the following details:
  1. Shirt Details - brand, style #, colors and sizes
  2. Design reference - refer to a stock template on the website if possible or include an attached image similar to what you are looking for, with notes about what you want.

You can find templates at
For soccer, go here Soccer Templates

What has been your experience ordering t-shirts online?

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Introducing Mr. Terrific | Your Custom T-Shirt Super Hero

If you haven't noticed, we have a new look here at . After many years of producing great designs and miracle turn-arounds for custom t-shirts and apparel, our founder, Mr. Terrific decided it was time to update our look to reflect who we are - Super Heroes.
Mr. Terrific

We agreed to let Mr. Terrific show his face (well kinda, he does wear a mask). So you will notice Mr. Terrific throughout our website. He will be guiding you here and there with tips to help you order your apparel. He will also be blogging with a variety of informative buying ideas and fun stories.

New TerrificT Logo

We also have updated our logo.

Mr. Terrific & The TerrificT Story

He Had a Motive

It all started back in 1987 with Mr.Terrific & his pal "Shoe" Mackenzie. These guys were still in college and just wanted money to go skiing (the kind that involves snow, mountains, and beer). They had the snow. They had the beer. They didn't have the mountains. Read The Rest Of the Story
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