Screen Printing with Foil

Nov 21, 2023 | Ink, Project Ideas, Screen Printing


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Screen printing with your vinyl cutter is a versatile and creative method for decorating shirts, and one way to take your projects to the next level is by incorporating foil. Adding a touch of shimmer and shine, foil brings an extra layer of sophistication to your screen printed projects. In this post, I'll walk you through the steps of screen printing with foil, along with some pro tips to ensure get great results.

screen printing with foil

How to Use Foil in Screen Printing

Screen Printing with Vinyl

If you've read my previous posts or follow me on Instagram, you know my favorite way to setup my screen printing is with vinyl cut on my Siser Romeo (Cricut and Silhouette machines work too).  You can learn more about how to get started on my Beginner Screen Printing page. 

With vinyl, you can setup and screen print designs in minutes. 

What Ink Works with Foil?

Typically you see me screen printing with a water based ink, like Speedball.  I like using this ink because it soaks into the fabric leaving a soft print and it's easy to clean up in my home sink.

Another popular type of screen printing ink is called plastisol ink. This ink does not air dry like water based ink. It must be cured with heat – ideally a flash or conveyor dryer. 

In order to get foil to stick to your ink, you need to use plastisol ink.  I like using this Stretch Plastisol Ink because it also acts as an adhesive for even better results. 

Screen Printing with Stretch Ink

You can setup your screen using my vinyl method or use a traditional screen setup with emulsion.

Because this ink is thick, you'll want to use a lower mesh count screen. I have found 110 mesh works well but some screen printers will go lower to an 86 mesh.

Make sure you are using a firm squeegee like this 70 durometer squeegee.  Typically I pull the squeegee towards myself.  In this video, I found that pushing the ink was a little easier. 

Getting a thick, even coat of ink in this step sets the foundation for the foil to adhere seamlessly.

screen print foil ink supplies

Drying the Ink

Once you've applied the stretch ink, use a heat gun or a flash dryer to dry the ink to the touch. It does not take long at all and you can see the ink color transition (watch me use a heat gun in this video). This ensures that the surface is ready to receive the foil transfer.

screen printing stretch fnink foil

Applying the Foil with a Heat Press

Place the screen printing foil with the shiny side facing up, covering your printed design.  You can even crinkle the foil for an extra effect. 

Cover the foil with a Teflon sheet.

Set your heat press to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and press the foil onto the design for approximately 15 seconds. This heat application activates the adhesive on the foil, creating a strong bond with the stretch ink.

foil tshirt heat press how to

Cooling and Peeling the Foil

Allow the pressed design to cool for 15-30 seconds before peeling away the foil sheet. Pull the foil away from the garment in a fast, smooth motion.

And just like magic… The foil will only stick to the areas where you screen printed the design. 
   

Pro Tips for Successfully Screen Printing with Foil

Underbase Ink for Perfect Transfers

Foil transfers may not always be 100% perfect. You will often notice some minor flaws in the foil covering your ink. If you don't want a distressed look, some screen printers opt to print an underbase ink that matches the foil color. This helps to fill any gaps and ensures a more consistent and vibrant finish.

Preserving the Foil

To maintain the longevity of your foil prints, wash your shirts inside-out. This protects the foil from excessive friction and contact with other fabrics during the washing process, preserving its luster over time.

Cleaning Up Plastisol Ink

Keep in mind that the ink used for foil transfers is plastisol ink, which doesn't clean up as easily as water-based inks. Utilize a Plastisol Cleaner to wipe your screen clean, and avoid washing the ink down the sink.

Screen printing with foil opens up a world of possibilities for creating unique screen printed designs. By following these simple steps and incorporating the pro tips provided, you can achieve stunning results that are sure to impress your family and customers. Experiment with different foil colors and design combinations to add a touch of brilliance to your screen printing projects.

foil screen printing tutorial

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I’m Jennifer, your go-to for all things vinyl screen printing. I offer both in-person and online classes to help you craft better quality shirts. This blog is full of screen printing inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about screen printing with vinyl!

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