Winning the Battle Against Dye Migration

February 26, 2020

Polyester and polyester blends have grown in popularity over the years and have become a big market in the promotional products industry. From fashion to outerwear to athleticwear, it seems like everyone is asking for this fabric. Despite its popularity, it’s one of the fabrics that many printers struggle to print on. But never fear, there are some guidelines and tips we have to share that can help you be successful when decorating polyester.

Dye migration is the main reason that screen printers struggle with printing on polyester. When the dye from the product contaminates the screen print color, it causes a color tint on the print – this is dye migration. The tricky part is that dye migration doesn’t always happen right after the shirts go through the dryer. Sometimes the migration may not occur for hours or days after its printed.

To avoid issues with dye migration there are three best practices you can follow:

  1. Dryer Temperature
    Do not cure shirts over 320 degrees.
  2. Inks
    Use a low bleed, high opacity polyester ink on all fabrics with polyester content.
  3. Cold Stacking
    Make multiple stacks of shirts when they come out the dryer. This way the shirts have some time to start cooling down before the next shirt is stacked on top of it. Fans at the end of the dryer also help in the cooling process.

Outside of the actual screen printing process, there are some things that you can do to battle migration:

Avoiding Dye Migration - SanMar U Video

  • Choose product that is made to combat dye migration. SanMar has worked with their manufacturers to offer PosiCharge products that have a heat set dye to help prevent dye migration.
  • Attend tradeshows and go to education sessions that teach about different printing techniques.

We also have a short video that shares some tips and tricks to help you overcome the mysteries of dye migration.

Lastly, you can always reach out to the Decoration and Digital Solutions Team at SanMar with any decoration questions you may have: