Printed Running T-Shirts

Printed Race T-Shirts have been popular amongst runners for years and traditionally cotton t-shirts have been used, and these have been printed using the screen printing process.

Elsewhere within the technical running t shirt section on this site we have cited the reasons why it is not a good idea to run in cotton t-shirts, and screen printing exacerbates the situation further. So, what's the problem with screen printing?

The advantage of screen printing is that it is relatively easy to administer and is very cost effective. However, the t-shirt is effectively "screened" with a layer of ink that forms a barrier which inhibits the movement of moisture away from the surface of the skin, which is a particular problem if applied on the back of the t-shirt. Some people refer to it as sweaty back syndrome. Furthermore, screen printing, if not applied properly fades quite quickly thus making the "souvenir" t-shirt suitable for gardening only.

Having extolled the virtues of technical t-shirts, we now need to go one step further and look for a printing process that is capable of producing a technically printed running t-shirt for sports use.

The solution to both ‘screening' and ‘fading' can be achieved through the use of a special type of print. In short, the print is applied to the face of a technical t-shirt, not to a cotton t-shirt, using a process known as sublimation. Without getting too technical, sublimation printing works in the following way:

A special sublimation ink is used, which is held in a liquid solvent. This ink is then applied to a donor material, namely a special type of paper via a specific type of printer. The ink is then transferred from paper to fabric via the dye sublimation process which entails the dye being heated until it vapourises into a gas which then permeates the actual fibres of the material before re-solidifying. The dye is actually held by the fibres and not in the pores between the fibres thus allowing moisture vapour to pass through the fabric without restriction as well as applying a permanent finish to the garment.

Looking into the concept of sublimation printing a little further, the only downside is that it is only possible to print full colour artwork onto white garments. So, all of the technical printed running t shirts that we print are white, or in limited cases yellow. If you’re looking for a darker coloured garment, then the only way to achieve this is through the use of a full sublimation printer, of whom we are not.

For further information, please see the following list of questions that we are frequently asked:

What type of fabric do you use, and is it suitable for running in?

We only use our own specific garments for printing on. The garments are constructed from a 150 gsm weight polyester which has been treated so as to enhance both wicking and anti microbial properties. Although we are often asked to print on cotton t shirts, this is not a service that we offer as cotton is one of the worst fabrics that one can exercise in. The t shirts are designed specifically for endurance events and have been tested in races such as the Comrades Marathon, Jordan Marathon and the legendary MDS. Naturally, this also makes the garments ideal for running both long and shorter distances in.

Which colour t shirts can you print on?

We only use a method of printing known as sublimation which although being the most technologically advanced, does have one drawback in that we can only print onto certain colour t shirts. We can currently print full colour images and artworks to white t shirts and limited colours to the yellow base. If in any doubt at all, please contact us for further guidance. Although it is possible to use different technologies to print to other darker colours, as sublimation is the only printing technology which allows the fabric to retain it's technical qualities. For the for see able future we will not be offering a service whereby we can print to darker colours. In a nutshell, why would you want to print a technical t shirt with a non-technical print?

What is the minimum quantity of garments that I can order?

Because each print is unqiue, the simple answer is one. Furthermore, we can personalise an entire order regardless of quantity. So, for arguments sake, if you are organising a road race and are looking for something a little different, each t shirt can be unique to the entrant. Whether that be adding there name to the top of even printing their race number on the garment itself. The only limiting factor is how much of an organisational impact it has on the customer.

Can you print logos and pictures?

Of course, we can print any logo or photographic image as supplied by yourself. Note though that we can only reproduce logos with the explicit permission of the logo owner. As a first instance, send through a copy of your require image and we'll quite happily prepare a no obligation proof for your approval. Please send and images through in a high-resolution format such as JPEG, AI, PSD, EPS

Exactly how much personalisation can you do?

Within reason pretty much anything, dependent on price. We can apply prints to both the front and back as well as sleeves, again, contact us for further information. Note though that the one service that we do not currently offer is a full sublimation service. Basically, this involves printing the whole garment before it is cut and sewn. The finished article always looks very good but there is a very hefty cost to pay which is the primary reason why we do not currently offer this service.

How much does all this cost?

As with everything in life, the more you buy the less you pay! Prices for one off specific items with two prints start at only £18.99 per garment. For larger quantities or more elaborate print works please contact us for a specific quotation.

And what's the quality like? Will it fade, crack or peel?

First class quality which is guaranteed not to fade crack or peel. Because the fibres are printed and not the t shirt itself, the print is permanent and guaranteed not too deteriorate.

So what do I do next?

Simple, send through copies of the logos, images or text that you want to use and we'll prepare a no obligation proof for you.