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How can printers use puff or HD inks?

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A great way to elevate a standard screen-printed T-shirt that creates texture and depth is puff or HD ink. Most shops offer specialty inks or have access to them, but the power comes from knowing how to use them.

The statement “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” applies to all specialty inks. I’ve seen so many prints that make the design worse because they used puff ink with too much coverage, or the puff was so chunky it looked like a mistake. The trend of using puff ink for oversized name drops on the back of a relaxed gameday jersey seems to fit, but all other applications of puff should be thought through.

We use HD a lot for outlining a block of text instead of the full letters. It gives the wearer something trendy in hopes of staying in rotation in their closet. I also like to utilize half-inch stripes using full HD or left-chest logos that have the main icon or text in negative (AKA shirt showing through). Puff ink works excellent for animal prints, children’s characters, and cartoons.

Streetwear is the most popular style that uses puff ink. Kanye West launched his “church merch” line at Coachella using oversized puff ink on fleece, T-shirts, and joggers. HD ink also works for sporty looks and futuristic/technology-driven designs. Show your client the advantages of adding some raised ink to give their design a more distinctive look.

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Jeremy Picker

Jeremy is the creative director and CEO at AMB3R Creative, a Colorado-based apparel design firm. He has over 20 years experience in the fashion industry and brings a depth of knowledge in custom design, screen printing, embroidery, applique, finishing, and promotional products. Jeremy has helped numerous brands launch and grow and managed merchandise for major label brands. He is also passionate about creating retail quality for the non-profit sector to fuel fundraising efforts and expand awareness. His current client list spans from churches to restaurants to corporations. He is a cancer survivor and a co-founder of ESTAINE, a high-end accessory line to support cancer education.

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