How To Print On Stretch Fabric

December 4, 2009 at 1:28 am 3 comments

Over the past few weeks, we have received numerous inquiries on how to print on stretch fabric.  The fabrics may be composed of nylon, polyester, cotton, lycra, spandex, or a combination thereof.

While this blog is not an exhaustive “how-to” on the subject, here are some practical tips:

International Coatings has two products, both of which can be added to most plastisol inks to help improve with the elongation (elasticity) properties of the inks it is added to:

3805 Super Stretch Clear and the 1199 Stretch Additive.

Be sure to follow the directions on the product bulletins for these products! (Available from International Coatings’ website at or via the links above).

What are the main differences between the two products?

The 3805 Super Stretch Clear is an ink, not an additive, which means one can add as much of the 3805 as needed without worrying about adding too much or having curing issues.  But note that the more 3805 is added, the less the opacity of the mixed ink will be.  In most cases, the addition of 10% to 15% of the 3805 (by weight) to the other ink should be adequate.  Also, the 3805 is a very clear product which can be important when working with shimmer or glitter inks.

For the 1199 Stretch Additive, note that the recommended additions of the 1199 are 2-parts ink to 1-part of 1199 (by volume) and 3-parts of ink and 1-part of 1199 (by weight).  This would be the maximum loading of 1199 Additive.  Many times, depending on the amount of elongation or stretch that is needed, even less of the additive (in the 5% to 10% range by weight) may be required.

Also to consider is that if the final print really needs to stretch a lot, a thick enough ink deposit is needed so the ink film is strong enough to take the stretch.   So take that into consideration if printing through very fine mesh counts.

Most importantly:  TEST, TEST, TEST!

All fabrics and inks are different, so ALWAYS perform a test print to be sure that the ink elasticity is correct for the fabric, that the fabric will withstand the heat curing temperatures required, and that there are no bleeding issues.


Entry filed under: How-To, Printing Tips. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bee  |  April 29, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I would also like to know, which printing techniques hold to coated synthetic fabrics used in outerwear.

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  • 3. Pest Control  |  July 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm

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