Dye Migration – Testing “Equipment”
Simple is better than nothing.
Sometimes you print and the dye from the shirt gets into the ink by the time it goes down the conveyor oven, that nice white ink on a red shirt turns pink. You say, “damn” and you think of something to prevent it, some combination of technique (lower flash and cure) and supplies (low bleed inks, barrier grey ink.) This is called “bleeding.” A more insidious problem is dye migration. “Migration” has the connotation of taking a long time, like reindeer crossing all of Lapland, of monarch butterflies going from Mexico to Massachusetts, swallows returning from Argentina to Capistrano… you get the idea. For a printer it is a sickening feeling. You put the shirts in a box and sent them to your customer, nice tidy white ink on a red shirt, and three weeks later you see the customer at your door with a horrible pink print. This is dye migration and it can take six months to a year to fully do its horrible work. The dye in the fabric slowly creeps into the ink. One simple test so you don’t need to wait three weeks to test a garment is to heat up the shirt to accelerate the process. Below is an expensive oven which can carefully do time and temperature. You put the shirt in the oven for eight hours at 110 degrees and it pretty much gives you an idea if dye migration will be a problem. The poor man’s version is to just throw the shirt in a box and leave the box on top of your dryer for a day. I don’t know any shops with ovens, but we can all try the box trick.