Why are your images only printed on white shirts?
Our images are black and white. If we printed on dark colored fabric, the black areas of the images would become indistinct (and would completely disappear on black fabric). On light colored fabrics, the same would be true of the white areas of the images.
Who makes your shirts?
Our blank shirts are manufactured by Vapor Apparel, a Charleston, South Carolina company. We do all our own printing, and chose Vapor Apparel for these reasons:
- Very high quality shirts
- Fabrics engineered to be especially receptive to our dye sublimation printing process
- Soft, comfortable microfiber shirts wick moisture away from the body. Vapor shirts are also anti-microbial and stain resistant. Vapor’s “Solar” fabrics have built-in 50+ UPF sun protection.
- Vapor Apparel is committed to sustainable, environmentally sound manufacturing processes
Why Are Your Shirts So Soft?
First of all, our shirts are made with fabrics created by Vapor Apparel. They are wonderfully soft before we ever begin our printing process.
Secondly, our printing process is fundamentally different from that used on most tee shirts.
On the vast majority of tee shirts you buy on line or in souvenir shops, the imprinted image is laid down in one (one color) or several (multi-color) layers of ink with a heat transfer or silk-screening process. These layers are “painted” on top of the fabric. This creates a hard crusty surface on top of the fabric which contains the image. This hard surface does not survive repeated washings without cracking, chipping or fading. Moreover, it is a very noticeable contrast in softness with the rest of the shirt where there is no printing.
Not so our shirts. We use a printing process called dye sublimation. It prints the image in high resolution in the fabric, not on the fabric. There is no hard, crusty patch where the image is printed with dye sublimation.
In the dye sublimation printing process, special dyes are carried via liquid ink or gel ink through a piezo-electric print head and deposited on high-release inkjet paper.
The blank shirt is loaded on the platen of a heat press and the printed inkjet paper is placed on the area of the garment to be imprinted. The press is closed and a combination of time, temperature (some 400 degrees) and pressure in the heat press causes the dye to change from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid state (i.e., sublimation). During sublimation, the gas is embedded into the very molecules of the fibers. The instant the heat press is released, the heat and the pressure are removed and the gas returns to a solid state, i.e., dye.
The result of this process is a virtually permanent, high-resolution print that will not crack, fade or peel when washed — repeatedly — and does not perceptibly change the printed fabric’s weight or feel, or impede its breathability.
How is fabric weight measured?
Fabric weight is the weight of a fabric in ounces per square yard or in grams per square meter. The fabric weights in the descriptions of our shirts are in ounces per square yard. A fabric of a certain weight typically has a certain feel, as indicated in the chart below.
What is dye sublimation?
Special dyes are carried via liquid ink or gel ink through a piezo-electric print head and deposited on a high-release inkjet paper to then be transferred into the fabric.
The inkjet paper is placed on the area of the garment to be imprinted and then the garment is placed in a heat press. A combination of time, temperature and pressure in the heat press causes the dye to change from solid state to gas without passing through a liquid state (the process of sublimation). In the heat press, the gas is embedded into the molecules of the fibers — not onto the surface of the fibers. When it cools, it rapidly returns to solid state: i.e., dye.
Most dyes start to sublimate at 350 degrees Fahrenheit but 380-420 degrees is recommended by Vapor Apparel for their fabrics, depending upon the fabric weight.
The result of this process is a virtually permanent, very high-resolution print that will not crack, fade or peel under normal conditions for performance-wear and active wear garments and does not perceptibly change the printed fabric’s weight or feel or impede its breathability.
Why not cotton?
Dye sublimation does not work on cotton. Besides, the properties of the microfiber materials that we use allow better image resolution and greater overall softness than a printed cotton tee. In addition, microfiber wicks moisture away from the body which cotton does not do, and a dye sublimated image is repeatedly washable without shrinking or fading, chipping or cracking. That is not true of printed cotton shirts.