Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Custom Printing: Options for Garment Decoration

In my summer travels to Ocean City, I’ve been paying close attention to improvements in fabric printing. During numerous trips to clothing stores with my fiancee in search of bathing suits, I have become aware of new developments in garment decoration. Trips to the Ocean City boardwalk have also sparked my interest in fabric printing as I have seen similar improvements in t-shirt printing.

Let me be more specific. I have seen images printed in vibrant colors on bikinis with almost continuous tone photographic quality. I have also seen thick, rubberized, single color custom screen printing on everything from t-shirts to soda can cooling sleeves.

In all cases I’ve asked myself how the effect was accomplished, and unable to answer completely, I have done some online research.

Inkjet vs. Dye Sublimation

Both inkjet and dye sublimation technologies can be used to decorate garments. The determining factor seems to be the substrate. A cotton garment would be ideally suited for direct-to-garment custom printing via inkjet technology, whereas a polyester garment would be better suited to dye sublimation custom printing.

For inkjet garment printing, the printheads of the inkjet equipment make a pass across the t-shirt (for example), which is mounted flat on a platen (a garment holder). The printheads spray the ink onto the surface of the cotton fabric. With today’s inkjet equipment, this can be done at very high resolution, hence the photographic quality images.

In contrast, for printing on polyester garments, inkjet equipment is used to print special sublimation dyes onto a carrier sheet called “dye sublimation transfer paper.” This paper is then laid over the garment, and the heat and pressure of a “heat press” cause the dyes to turn from a solid directly into a gas (skipping the interim liquid state and therefore called “sublimation”). The gas dye molecules enter the actual fabric (instead of staying on top of the fabric, as do inkjet inks). When the garment is cooled and the dye sublimation transfer paper is removed, you have a vibrant image that won’t fade or peel, and that will withstand repeated washings.

What About Blended Fabrics?

So if you have a cotton or polyester garment to work with, you know what technology to choose. But what about blended fabrics? From my research I’ve learned that both inkjet and dye sublimation will work with blended fabrics, but that the coloration may be faded or washed out. What I find interesting about this is that the images printed on the swimsuits in the Ocean City stores were blindingly bright, crisp, and fully saturated.

So What Was I looking At?

Based on my research, I would take an educated guess that the swimsuits, being a polyester product, had been decorated using dye sublimation technology. Furthermore, I would say that the intensity of the custom printing dyes support this educated guess.

Rubber Inks

The thick, single colors of ink printed on the hats, some shirts, and the foam rubber soda can cooling sleeves I saw on the boardwalk seemed to be the products of an altogether different process.

The inks were thick, solid colors. And the artwork was simple line art. My first thought was that these had been samples of custom screen printing. But the ink on the t-shirts was much more flexible than I had remembered from prior years. It seemed to be almost rubberized, much softer and more pliable than the screen printing inks I was used to. (I even checked a screen printed messenger bag I had at home, and the screen printed logo was much rougher than the screen printed ink on the products at the beach.)

I thought the inks might be latex based, but in my research I learned that latex inks are really more of an environmentally friendly alternative to solvent based inkjet printing inks. Ostensibly, these would also have more of a plastic surface than a rubberized surface.

So I did some more research and found that rubber based inks do in fact exist. They are used for textile custom printing, and they give the texture of rubber, coat evenly, and are opaque. Given my findings, I would make another educated guess: that the new products in Ocean City had been screen printed with rubberized inks. (The product literature for the rubberized inks discussed types of squeegies and referenced the thickness of the ink—both items or qualities indicative of custom screen printing.)

Do I know for sure? No, since there were no commercial fabric printers on-site in the stores, but I’ll still stand by my guess.

Why You Should Care

Large format fabric printing (inkjet, dye-sub, and screen printing) seems to be growing and becoming more technologically sophisticated in an era when other types of custom printing are waning. Designers and printers may want to take note.

Comments are closed.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved