Controlling Dye Migration

Controlling Dye Migration

Dye migration is completely unavoidable, but very controllable. This quick reference guide will help you dodge this unwanted process as much as possible, providing your customers with the crisp, clean shirt that you printed.

What is Dye Migration?

Dye migration, also known as dye sublimation or bleeding, is an unwanted process that occurs between your standard plastisol inks and manmade fibers such polyester. When dye migration occurs, it is actually caused by the dyes on the shirt fibers. At high temperatures (around 330 degrees Fahrenheit), the shirt dye turns into a gaseous state and seeps into the ink, causing the screen printed image to look faded. Dye migration tends to be the most evident when placing white ink on red, navy or dark green polyester shirts. These colors tend to have a lower sublimation temperature, causing dye migration to occur earlier in the curing process.

What Does Dye Migration Look Like?

How Can You Control It?

There are three distinct ways to control dye migration. The first way, which may be a little obvious, is to not over cure the ink. It is highly advised to keep your curing temperatures lower (under 320 degree Fahrenheit) and give the garments plenty of time to cure. Doing so, will help keep the dye from turning into a gas, thus preventing dye migration.

Next, it is suggested that you utilize inks that are designed to help limit dye migration. These inks are usually labeled as “low-bleed” inks or simply ink designed for printing on polyester. You can take it a step further by printing a white under base onto the garment, which will then be covered up once the image is printed on top of it.

Finally, sometimes this problem can originate from the quality of the garment itself. Not all polyester shirts are created equal. Sometimes the dying process of the garment isn’t done to its highest potential, resulting in a shirt that is more susceptible to dye migration. The fix is quite simple for this one. Simply purchase shirts of a higher quality, or from a trusted brand that you have had good luck with.