We have spent years experimenting with foil on shirts. Rather I should say that we produced actual jobs with different foil applications and always achieved great results. However, in almost every instance we had to do a lot of “tinkering” to get those good results. I finally feel we have dialed in on a very simple process which delivers awesome and consistent results. Here it is:
– We now use a water-based foil adhesive and print it through 86 mesh. We follow this with a second separate 86 mesh screen with more of the same adhesive. The secondary screen is of upmost importance as it not only speeds production over a double-stroke, but it also acts as “insurance” in case the first plate should develop a clog or other inconsistency.
– Then to cure the adhesive we pass the printed shirt through a gas-fired conveyor dryer (although gas is not entirely necessary, the airflow in a gas oven is always superior to an electric dryer for curing any water-based ink.)
– Then we take the cut foil and heat apply it at 330 °F with moderate to high pressure with a 6 sec dwell.) You probably could instead do post curing using an in-line foil technologies, but we have not tried that.
– Then when the shirt and foil are cooled off, we remove the foil in one fluid motion. We then use a quick high-pressure air spray to remove any residual specks and flecks.
We are currently working with Amagic foils. Their huge selection of foils offers hundreds of colors and patterns and is cost effective. Most importantly both Amagic foil and the Amagic company are easy to work with!
Why use a water-based adhesive? Yes, I know that water-based ink can be more difficult to work with than plastisol ink, but in this case the end result is well worth it. Specifically I’m talking about the tactile characteristics. With this method we achieve an ultra-soft and malleable print and the foil feels like it is part of the garment rather than a thick sheet applied atop the substrate. Also, in our wash tests the durability has proven to be superior to our previous methods where we applied foil using plastisol adhesive.