Zippers, Seams, Pockets & Screen Printing

Jesse MacKenzie
January 26th, 2015

Printing Obstacles

Zippers, seams, and pockets require special attention any time a print comes near them. The screen printing process is built for flat surfaces. We are constantly making sure that every piece of equipment is balanced and flat for a consistent application of ink on every single garment. Zippers, seams, and pockets all represent a disruption of this flat surface. This disruption can cause gaps, breaks, and a loss of registration.


Gapping is the result of a disruption in the flat printing surface. Any sort of inconsistency in the surface can cause gapping, but the thicker it is the more damage it will do to the print. When the ink is pushed over a zipper, pocket, or seam; not only will the ink break or gap, but the screen will physically stretch, and the surrounding information will be shifted or changed. This is not consistent, so anything near the disruption will usually lose its registration on a multi-color print.

The thickness and direction of the seam help us predict how the print will react. Horizontal disruptions tend to cause less gapping, but can still cause a loss of registration. Vertical seams cause the worst gaps, as the squeegee doesn’t get relief as it travels.


Besides some extra charges that may occur, there are some things related to zippers, pockets, and seams that we will not do. We will not print closer than 2 inches from the top of any zipper, because the zipper pull can tear the screens. Any print that is going on a pocket must be within a 3.5″ by 3.5″ square. We use a special pallet to print on the pocket, and anything bigger than that will risk falling off of the sides. We will try basically anything that you want, but we are not responsible for any imperfections in a print caused by a zipper, pocket, or seam.


There are a few things we can do to make a seam print look better. Waterbase or fashion ink will look better than standard plastisol on seams. A print without an underbase will look better also, because it lessens the loss of registration that can occur. Distressed or vintage art will show the effects of gapping much less than bright, solid art.


Jesse is our Creative Director. He splits his time between the Art Department and Creative duties, looking to innovate and push the company in both areas (unless he overslept.)

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