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    Burn Out Printing: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

    Burn out printing, often termed as devoré, is a fabric technique where textiles and garments of mixed-fibre compositions undergo a chemical process to dissolve any cellulosic fibres, leaving behind only the synthetic fibres such as polyester.

For this step-by-step guide, we used our formulation MagnaPrint® Burn Out. The process is very similar to conventional screen-printing, however instead of using an ink, an acidic chemical is printed onto the garment or textile.

Burn out printing can provide different effects depending on your fabric compositions – so it’s important to understand what kind of finished product you want to achieve and to experiment for the perfect result. Textiles with a higher cotton or cellulosic composition provide a more transparent and sheer effect, while higher polyester content will leave more structure to the fabric. Heather style garments with multiple fibre colours in the yarns work great for this technique as they provide an excellent contrast between the burnt out and non-printed areas.

Step 1: Artwork Preparation

When it comes to artwork for burn out printing, it all depends on how subtle or extravagant you want to effect to be. Magna used a mandala design to showcase how intricate an effect you can achieve with the process. It includes some solid areas and some thin lines. In terms of the mesh, it’s important to try and get a good amount of burn out ink onto the fabric, so we recommend using a 32-43T (86-110) mesh count.

burn out printing advantages and disadvantages

Step 2: Safety First

When printing with burn out ink, it’s important to use gloves due to the acidic nature of the formulation. This image shows the ink in the pot. Though it has an orange tinge, it won’t leave any colour behind on the finished garment in this state as its sole purpose is to dissolve any cellulosic fibres.

burn out printing advantages and disadvantages

Step 3: Fabric Selection

For garment or fabric selection, we used two types of t-shirts. A 52% cotton, 48% polyester blend (red and blue), and a 90% cotton, 10% polyester blend (grey). This is to show the difference in the finished product that you can achieve. We also used heather t-shirts, some dark melange versions and some light melange, again to highlight how fabric selection is crucial to the end result.

burn out printing advantages and disadvantages

Step 4: Setting Up Screens

When setting up the screens on your press, make sure that there is around 3-5mm of off-contact distance between the mesh and the garment. We used a 60-90-60 shore rectangular squeegee and set the blade angle to 15°.

screen set up for burn out printing

Step 5: Time to Start Burn Out Printing

It’s time to print your garments. You should add enough ink to ensure that that screen-mesh is fully flooded.

flooding the screen

Step 6: Two-Flash-Two

Print two strokes followed by a two second flash cure at 110°C, followed by another two strokes. We used an eight station M&R Sportsman EX press.

flash cure

Step 7: The Garment Before Curing

Once printed, you’ll see a flat, brownish colour on the printed areas. This is because the burn out ink needs to be cured in order to begin properly dissolving the cellulosic fibre.

burn out ink before curing

Step 8: Send it Down the Dryer

It’s now time to send the garments down your dryer. We used an M&R MiniSprint 2000 dryer at 130°C and cured the garment twice for 2 minutes each time. Depending on the size of your dryer you may need to adjust your process, but we recommend 130°C for 4 minutes in total. It’s important not to over cure the garment as you may end up with some scorched areas which can be difficult to wash off, so it’s best to trial some prints beforehand.

burn out prints down the dryer

Step 9: Rinse the Prints

Once the prints have been cured, put them straight into cold water to allow some of the burn out formulation to rinse off the garments. Be sure to handle to garments with protective gloves when removing them from the water.

rinsing the burn out print

Step 10: Wash the Burn Out

The next step is to wash the garments to remove all excess ink and cellulosic fibre from your printed areas. We used Miele domestic washing machine running a 50-minute wash cycle at 60°C and added an optical brightener-free washing powder.

washing burn out ink

Step 11: The Finished Effect

Once washed and dried, you’ll really be able to see the effect you’ve created on your fabrics. In these prints, the grey t-shirts with a higher cotton composition left behind a highly transparent burn-out effect, whilst the blue and red shirts with a more balanced composition left less transparency and more structure due to the higher polyester composition. You can also see the difference in colour of the garments – the lighter heather shirts providing a white burn out area, whilst the black flecks of the darker shirts created a darker effect.

burn out printing on tshirts

Step 12: Top Tip

Here’s another top tip. We added 3% yellow ITOSPERSE disperse dye to some of the burn out ink for this print. When cured, the disperse dye enters the expanded polyester fibres and gets locked in when the garment cools down. This means that you can alter the colour of burn out printed areas. The possibilities with this ink system are huge!

itosperse dye added to burn out ink

End Uses for Burn Out Printing

Markets and end uses that this product is suited to can be extremely diverse. Depending on the position of the print, the size of the design, and level of transparency you impart, it can be a great addition to t-shirts and other garments. It’s also perfect for rotary screen printing and all over prints, allowing you to create lace and devoré effects on wide format fabrics for interior and home textiles.

Check out this article featured in the August 2021 edition of Images Magazine!


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