Rotary screen printing offers a lot of benefits, but it helps to understand both the process and why it is best for a particular order. Let’s start with order numbers. If you’re looking to keep your order around 2,500+ pieces or so, you can choose between silkscreen or rotary to print your bandannas. In fact, this process is your least-expensive option when ordering between 144 – 2,000 pieces. Silkscreen is a one-sided topical surface imprint on cloth that has been dyed a color and cut and sewn into bandannas.
However, once your order hits that 2,500 count, rotary is the way to go. “As the quantity increases rotary offers faster production time, better pricing, and more design color options,” notes Thackston. Starting at 2,500 pieces, Bandanna Promotions can use the rotary print process to print up to eight colors depending on the job with only a few minor restrictions. Plus, edge-to-edge printing is also a possibility with rotary printing; just keep in mind that only certain layouts will work. If your design can’t be printed edge-to-edge, the imprint or logo area is 19”x19″ with base color bleeds as full coverage to edges.
The hand or feel of the bandanna should also be considered. With silkscreen imprints, the ink sits on top of the fabric and can be felt when you rub your hand over it. Rotary printing creates a softer bandanna because the eco-friendly, water-based pigment dyes — which don’t contain harmful chemicals — are absorbed into the cloth. As a result, the print cannot be felt when you rub your hand over it becoming part of the material.
Rotary printing starts with 100% cotton or 50/50% polycotton white cloth. And if you’re concerned about color, that’s another benefit to the process. Each color in your client’s design is printed directly on white cloth, which is the base color, making colors vibrant and true. PMS colors can also be easily matched.
Rotary screen printing uses precision-cut stencils, or screens, to create an image. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design. The design is applied as the fabric moves through the machine, which allows for large quantities of goods to be produced. “With no screen or setup charges, [we offer] a faster turnaround than any other supplier and edge-to-edge printing with select designs,” says Thackston.
Production speeds of rotary screen presses do vary based on the complexity of the design, the type of material, and the ink or chemistry used. While full-color designs can’t be printed with rotary, your clients can still get a similar look using halftones and gradient blends. This requires printing your client’s design in five to eight colors (depending on quantity ordered).