Can You Screen Print on Polyester? (How to Guide 2024)

Screen printing on polyester is now adopting a type of hobby. Whether you are giving a gift to someone or want to make a decoration piece for your home or office, you can easily invest in screen printing.

Screen printing is a printing technique that involves a special ink for polyester fabric.

Additionally, There are multiple factors to keep in mind, such as the type of ink you use, fabric quality, how much stretch it has, and whether it may get shrink or not. Polyester fabric can shrink quickly if it is exposed to heat.

People love to screen print on polyester, including high-quality garments like denim, even if it is cost-effective.

Basics of Screen Printing

Screen printing is a method of putting high-quality prints on a piece of Fabric. It draws a negative image on materials like paper, wood, or Fabric. Soft but thick ink is used for printing.

For your DIY projects, you have to arrange the following necessary equipment;

The Screen?

The screen is the mesh where we transfer ink onto the material. It is made up of nylon. It also involves a stencil that indicates which area of the Fabric is going through printing and which size should be left.

The Fabric or material

The material suitable for applying ink can be paper, metal, plastic, etc.

The Ink

The selection of quality ink with relevant properties is essential. It can make your project magnificent if used accurately and destroy it chosen without matching the colors and type of Fabric.

For commercial purposes, many brands are considering it because it is long-lasting compared to digital printing, better in quality, and low in cost.

Various methods involved in screen printing

Here, I am presenting an overview of the popular methods you can easily apply while screen printing projects.

  • The flatbed screen printing method is shared among people and brands. You only have to spread the screen flat on a table. Put the Fabric beneath and apply the ink onto the screen. Press the ink through the mesh using a squeegee.
  • In the Rotary screen printing method, the screen is mounted around the continuously rotating cylinder. As the cylinder rotates, the screen comes in contact with the material, and ink is applied.
  • The continuous screen printing method prints long substrates such as paper or film. A rotating drum is used to put the ink to the material, as the screen is mounted around the rotating drum.
  • Spot color screen printing method is popular to be printed on T-shirts. Using a bulk quantity of ink gives a more vibrant look to the Fabric.
  • Hybrid screen printing is the combination of the above-discussed methods of screen printing. It opens the door to a wide range of printing possibilities.
Read more: How to Wash and Dry Screen Printed T-Shirts?

How to Screen Print on Polyester? (Step-by-Step Process)

Here are some steps that provide a detailed answer to whether you can screen print on polyester.

Step 1- Arrange your Equipment

Required equipment includes;

  • Polyester fabric
  • Suitable screen printing ink
  • Screen
  • Squeegee
  • For the DIY purpose, you also need transparency film and an inkjet printer
  • Light source
  • Press

Step 2- Prepare the Screen

The mostly same screen is used multiple times. If you want to try your own screen, you must create your own design and get a print of it. Paint the screen and let it dry.

Use your light source to transparency film. After a night, you can wash the screen and get your design.

Step 3- Cover the area

Covering your work area with a cloth or some paper is strongly recommended. Now place the polyester fabric on the surface and spread it smoothly.

Step 4- Prepare ink mixture

Instructions on the ink package should be carefully read and followed. Mix the ink thoroughly to become soft and smooth.

Step 5- Final preparation of the Screen

Place the screen on top of the polyester fabric and make it tightly placed with the help of clips. Immediately remove the excess ink to avoid spots.

 Step 6-Start the Process of Printing

Put a small amount of printing ink onto the screen with a pallet knife. Spread the ink evenly across the screen. Whenever you use a squeegee to spread the ink, press it firmly.

Allow the ink to dry completely before you handle the Fabric. You can easily use the presser or iron for speedy drying.

Finally, wash the screen out with gentle sprinkles of water to remove any remaining ink.

What is your favorite ink to Screen Print on Polyester?

Choosing the most suitable ink for screen printing depends upon the project’s specific needs. Some of the best inks available in the market are listed below:

Water-based ink

Water-based ink is a popular choice for DIY workers to print on polyester fabric. Several reasons can justify it.

First and foremost, it has the lowest level of toxicity.

Secondly, it is durable and can produce high-quality prints in polyester fabric. Last but not least, cleaning it from the screen is straightforward.

Plastisol ink

You can easily find plastisol ink in craft stores. It is also available in kits specifically designed to use polyester fabric. It can be used on a wide range of materials.

Discharge ink

Discharge ink is water-based ink specifically used to print on dark-colored fabrics. It is also used to remove the dyes on the Fabric. It gives a soft touch and vintage look to the Fabric.

Which Printing method is the best for Polyester Fabric?

Numerous factors define the best method of printing. Some of the most common methods used for printing polyester fabric are the following:

  • Sublimation printing
  • Direct-to-garment printing
  • Screen printing

All the above three methods can be used according to the project’s requirements, keeping in mind the limitations. The screen printing method is a popular choice for printing large quantities of fabrics, especially polyester fabric.

It is relatively less expensive and can give you better results.

Tips and Tricks

Keeping in mind the decorative purpose of the project, one must take care of the following points during screen printing:

  • The temperature should be in complete accordance with the Fabric, as the polyester fabric cannot bear the high ironing temperature.
  • It is better to test the whole procedure to avoid any significant inconvenience.
  • The polyester fabric takes much time to get calm down. If it doesn’t cool at the proper time, it may lead to the failure of the whole project.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, screen printing is a method anyone can use to print designs on polyester fabric. Using appropriate materials and techniques, such as choosing the best quality fabric and the suitable ink for printing, can make your whole work awesome.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you print images on polyester?

Yes, polyester can be printed with special ink CMYK only. This ink fuses into fibers instead of sitting on the fabric’s surface.

Which printing is best for polyester fabric?

Most industry experts advise using transfer printing in the case of polyester fabrics. It results in more precise and vibrant colors.

Is it better to print on cotton or polyester?

Polyester is cheaper, resistant to moisture, durable, and remains wrinkle-free, unlike cotton. So, polyester is preferable over cotton.   

Can you customize it on polyester?

Yes, you can print your design on polyester fabric if you have a personal setup for screen printing.

Can you use printable vinyl on polyester?

Of course, yes.
White glitter heat transfer vinyl works best on polyester.

How to Screen Print on Polyester

Leave a Comment