PfP… huh!?

the importance of fabric being prepared-for-printing

The impact of correctly Prepared-for-Printing fabric on your print finish, quality and durability is more important than most printers realize. Evaluate your fabric before you begin your production.

Be prepared – the water drop test

  1. Lightly stretch the fabric over the top of a drinking glass – just enough tension so that the fabric is held smoothly over the opening (think trampoline vs hammock).
  2. Next, take a small amount of water and drop several droplets onto the surface from about 10 cm above the fabric surface.
  3. Activate your stopwatch, and start counting the seconds as soon as the drops hit the surface of the fabric (use your smartphone timer).
  4. Watch closely to see how the water interacts with the fabric. Place a light source opposite you so that you can easily see light reflecting off the surface of the droplets like a mirror.
  5. Stop counting when there is no longer any reflection on the surface of the sinking droplets and the fabric surface has become totally matt.
  6. This is referred to as the sink-in time of the drop.

If the fabric has been appropriately Prepared-for-Printing, the sink-in time should fall within the range of 1 to 4 seconds. Prolonged sink-in times suggest the presence of substances on or within the fabric hindering water absorption. The lengthier the time, the poorer the Prepared-for-Printing (PFP) quality of the fabric, indicating potential screen printing complications.

The printer’s ideal fabric

Clean and Smooth Surface

The fabric should have a clean and smooth surface without any contaminants such as dust, lint, or residues that could interfere with the printing process.

Consistent Texture

A consistent and uniform texture across the fabric ensures even ink distribution during printing, preventing variations in print quality.

Optimal Absorption

The fabric should be prepared to have optimal ink absorption characteristics. Do the water drop test.

Compatibility with Inks

The fabric should be compatible with the specific type of screen printing inks being used. Different fabrics may require different pre-treatments to optimize ink adhesion and durability.

Polymer Chemist, Beekeeper, and Ink Guru. Gary is your dedicated ink craftsman and seasoned teacher. Join us, as he shares valuable insights, tips and tricks to boost your print production.

Gary Marrison

Director Technical, Production & Operations