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What better way to make your next celebration even more special than personalizing balloons. This DIY process means you can put any design on your balloons.
I love a themed party! I have blogged about many of my kids’ birthday parties here in the past. I have so much fun going overboard with their cake, decorations and party games.
I usually make most of my decorations with the help of my Cricut Maker. With screen printing, I can go a step further and create matching balloons.
Supplies Needed to Screen Print on Balloons
- Cricut Maker or Silhouette Vinyl Cutting Machine
- Speedball acrylic ink
- Painter’s Tape
- Transfer Tape
- Clothes Pins
How to Screen Print with Vinyl
The first step in this process is using your vinyl cutter to make your design. Just like screen printing on shirts, the process starts by cutting your design on Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl.
Transfer the weeded design to my Speedball screen printing frame using my favorite transfer tape.
For this project, I used my Speedball hinge frame setup. You could do the same with a 1-color press. It can be tricky to hold a loose screen in place so the hinge frame or press will make it a little easier.
Screen Printing on Balloons
What Type of Ink Works Best on Balloons?
I use Speedball acrylic ink on surfaces other than fabric. This ink is designed for screen printing so it works well with the Speedball screen printing frame. Plus, it’s water based, making cleanup easy.
This acrylic ink air dries permanent so there is no need to heat set the ink like you would with fabric ink.
Is it best to print on balloons while they are deflated or inflated?
I tested several different methods before discovering the best way to screen print on latex balloons.
I found that screen printing on the balloons while inflated worked the best. Screen printing on a deflated balloon created a lot of distortion on the design when it was blown up.
I used a clothespin to keep the balloon from leaking air but without adding a knot. This allowed me to adjust the amount of air in the balloon until it would squish perfectly under the screen.
Once I finished with the print, I inflated the balloon a bit more and tied a knot.
What happens if you deflate the balloon after screen printing?
If you deflate the balloon while your ink is still wet, the ink will bleed together and ruin your design.
If you allow the ink to dry on your inflated balloon, then deflate it, your ink will flake off.
I found that the only way to get a successful printed balloon is to print it while inflated and leave it inflated.
How long does it take for the ink to dry?
Acrylic ink air dries pretty quickly. Be sure to place your printed balloon so the design is facing up to dry and not smearing on your table or floor. Mine were completely dry in about an hour, but you may need more/less time depending on your room conditions.
Can you screen print on helium balloons?
Yes! In fact, it will be easier to dry your design if the balloons are floating in the air! Just be sure that your balloons have room to dry separately before bunching them.
What size design can you print?
I found that 4”x4” was a great area for my design. You can print larger designs if you can squish your balloon enough to get a flat surface for printing. If you are using smaller balloons, it may be difficult to print a larger size design.
Depending on your design, after printing a 4” design you can add a little bit more air to your balloon to create a 5” or 6” final design. Inflating the balloon after printing can distort your design slightly.
You may want to do a few test prints with different size vinyl designs to determine which size you like the best for your project.
Can you print on both sides of the balloon?
Yes! You can print on multiple areas of your balloon. You will want the ink to dry completely before printing on another side.
What happens if my print doesn’t come out perfectly?
This can happen, especially when you are working on an unusual surface like balloons. Great news is, you can just wipe the ink off and try again. Use a wet paper towel or wet wipe to clean the ink off completely.