Prevent Ghost Images

Prevent Ghost Images on Your Screen Printed T-Shirts

Imagine you receive a rush order from one of your regular clients. A school needs shirts for an upcoming playoff football game. They are a regular customer and your screen printing shop business is running a bit slow, so you take the job. You put in a few long days, print the entire large order, box them up, and have them out to your customer before the deadline. Sounds great, right?

Suddenly, that vibrant Tiger logo in one spot is now the same very light, very subtle tiger logo where it should not be in another spot. Your customer calls you upset, and wants to know what happened. If you are a new screen printer, this might be baffling to you. What the heck did happen?

You personally inspected the shirts for quality before sending them out. The prints looked great when you got them ready for shipment. What could have happened between boxing up the great looking t-shirt and your customer seeing something that was not there when you printed it. You are positive there is no such thing as invisible or disappearing plastisol ink. The answer is that this is a classic example of “ghosting.” While you may have thought it was just something you did to a former girl- or boyfriend, it can be a problem in screen printing if you do not know what it is and how to prevent it.

Ghosting on a t-shirt is when an image that is screen printed on a shirt comes into contact with another shirt and leaves a faint image of the main print on the next garment. This is why many customers or newbie screen printers think there was some sort of double print that accidentally occurred.

If you are beginning to panic, do not worry. This phenomenon does not happen with all inks and dyes. Typically, ghosting happens when screen printing on polyester garments. The ink in the print can cause the dye of the garment to fade, migrate, or disappear, leaving a lighter silhouette of your printed image. Another possible reason is the garment is not fully cured or stacked when it is too hot.

Here are a few simple ways for how to prevent ghosting of an image on t-shirts:

    • Ensure that your screen printing plastisol inks are fully cured
    • Let shirts cool completely before stacking
    • Use the correct ink for the material you are printing on. For example, when printing on 100% cotton, use a high-opacity plastisol ink formulated for cotton instead of low-bleed ink designed for polyester shirts.

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