Flocking, ecological textile customization
Like any company or association that works on its brand image and wishes to be identified when it goes to public events, we had to look for suppliers of personalized clothing to equip the members of the team Oh là là, Bravo!
So, suddenly, we said to ourselves that it would be the perfect time to look into the subject and put forward our little French makers of personalized clothing who rack their brains to work with ranges of organic textiles, while this it’s so easy to do like everyone else.
Yes, because … I don’t know about you, but we love to be lectured by environmental associations who proudly display their slogans … on Made in China t-shirts.
We are not going to hide it, There are not many French manufacturers of ecological textiles. We quickly realize that trying to promote the French industry is a bit like enjoying whipping yourself with nettles.
Our valiant workers must therefore turn to “sustainable” (but not necessarily French) suppliers (of blank medium), we are thinking in particular of the Stanley / Stella (Belgium) brand whose clothing, made from organic cotton and recycled polyester, benefits numerous certifications guaranteeing in particular environmentally friendly production and decent working conditions for their subcontractors.
Regarding the making of clothes marked with of your company logotype, in a sustainable approach, several parameters must be taken into consideration: the origin of the textile fibre, its production method, its ecological impact but also the technique used for the customization (printing your logo).
If you have read our article on organic textiles, you already know that it is necessary to be interested in the composition of clothes, to move instead towards products made from Lyocell fibres, of course avoid non-organic and non-certified cotton, and all synthetic fibres, textiles made from non-virtuous viscose (bamboo viscose is a false friend), pay attention to the types of dyes used, worry about the process of marking your wonderful logo and finally check that the brands highlight responsible labels such as Oeko-Tex, fair trade… Good luck!
And if you want to support the French industry while avoiding having your clothes come from the other side of the planet, favour hemp or flax fibre, France being the leader in Europe in these two cultures. The product meeting the perfect criteria is as rare as a zebra unicorn, especially if you just want just short runs, you will have to get up early to find your happiness (we have not found ours yet) or just accept to compromise.
Having already dealt with types of organic textiles in another article, we are going to take a look at the final phase of the process: marking (personalization).
There are different technologies for “printing” a pattern on a textile and, in a responsible way, it is also necessary to take an interest in this somewhat technical aspect. We present the main techniques here, but there are still other types of printing, technologies evolving with the arrival of new machines and new inks.
This is the most expensive textile marking technique, it remains reserved for small size patterns such as a chest logo or a badge and preferably on thick fabrics.
Technically, it involves sewing coloured threads onto a fabric to reproduce a pattern. By its nature (tailoring), the level of detail cannot be as precise and complex as in digital printing. This method can be artisanal (by hand) or using an embroidery machine in an industrial setting.
Pros: the most noble technique: rendering in relief, durability.
Cons: reserved for small patterns, not very detailed.
Ecological aspect: the point to watch concerning this marking technique being that the embroidery threads are generally made of synthetic material (polyester, acrylic, nylon… therefore plastics derived from petroleum). It will therefore be necessary to ensure at least that we are in the presence of recycled polyester (recycling of plastic bottles) and at best of natural fibre threads (organic cotton).
Screen printing (silkscreen, serigraphy)
Textile screen printing is a technique consisting in directly depositing the ink on the textile through stencils (one stencil per colour). Printing is done colour by colour. As the ink is embedded in the fibres, the result is better durability of the marking against attacks (wear, repeated washing). This technique is more suitable for large numbers because it requires a more expensive initial implementation (preparation) that it is easier to make profitable on larger series and on projects where your visual contains few colours (the more colours there are, the more stencils are needed). It is ideal for tightly knitted textiles, such as cotton t-shirts and sweatshirts and heavy textiles.
Pros: allows a strong ink deposit which guarantees an intense colour that lasts over time.
Cons: does not allow printing of colour gradients, not suitable for photos and visuals with more than 4 colours.
Ecological aspect: The industry has developed very good quality certified organic inks, this technique is one of the most virtuous.
Digital transfer, Vinyl flocking, Flexography
This printing principle (one of the least expensive), comparable to the principle of a giant ink pad, is based on a visual printed and cut from a polymer film then heat-sealed with a press on the textile. We distinguish the cut flex from the printed flex. The cut flex, more economical, does not allow complex and multicoloured patterns while the printed flex manages complex colours (gradients).
Pros: the cheapest printing technique for small and medium series.
Cons: in flex cut, the pattern must be simple and lightly coloured (gradients impossible), the life of the marking more limited than other types of printing.
Ecological aspect: new water-based inks have emerged, alternative solutions to solvent-based inks, but the films (transfer medium) remain in PVC or polyurethane.
Screen printing transfer
Screen printing transfer consists of hot transfer onto a textile support (using a press maintained at a certain temperature) of screen printing inks previously deposited on an intermediate transfer paper. The serigraphic (screen printing) transfer technique is more advantageous for large prints with not too large visuals.
Pros: fine details both on light and dark fabrics, better durability than digital transfer, on any type of textile.
Cons: does not allow colour gradients.
Ecological aspect: We have not found any information on this subject. If you have any info, we’ll update the article on this.
Sublimation printing is a recent digital printing technique that uses inks that convert to gas when heated. The visual is printed on special paper and then hot pressed onto the garment.
Pros: the ink diffused through the fabric is indelible, imperceptible to the touch. Reproduces gradients and other shades of colour.
Cons: technique usable only on white polyester supports, high costs.
Ecological aspect: This printing process is advertised as the least polluting (odourless aqueous inks, without solvents or dangerous products) but the textile must be made of polyester (at least 60%).
Direct digital printing
The ideal technique for printing all shades of colours (gradients) on light-coloured textiles. The ink is deposited directly on the garment and penetrates into the fibres allowing a very smooth touch without relief. When used the same, digital printing will last as long as screen printing.
Pros: good rendering on white textile, allows all types of visuals to be reproduced with a reliable result.
Cons: for small series. Printing on dark media is not yet developed and more expensive.
Ecological aspect: water-based inks have emerged, free of heavy metals, non-toxic and 100% biodegradable.