What is Discharge and Underbase Printing?

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What is Discharge and Underbase Printing?

What is Discharge and Underbase Printing?


Are Discharge Printing And Underbase Techniques As Useful As They Seem?

Have you ever thought about how the beautiful patterns on the T-shirts in your wardrobe are designed? Well, there is a specific process called discharge printing that needs to be followed with high precision for those beautiful pattern designs to exist. This article will go through all the essential details regarding discharge and underbase printing. Stay with us till the end so you don’t miss out on anything important.

Discharge Printing: The Complete Process:

One question that might have led you to this blog is, “What is discharge printing?” Well, you have come to just the right place to eliminate any confusion that you might have. Discharge Printing is a type of screen printing process. Both processes use similar equipment and techniques except for one major difference: a discharge screen printing ink is used in the discharge printing method instead of normal ink. This discharge printing ink has a “chemical compound activator” that can eliminate the dyes on the fabric, ultimately removing the color. The discharge printing ink reveals the original color of the fabric which is usually off white. This fabric can then be re-dyed using a different color. This process is similar to bleaching, but one benefit of this process is that it does not damage the fabric. Instead, it produces an end product that is very soft.

Advantages Of Discharge Printing:

There are many significant benefits of discharge printing and that is precisely why it is now one of the most popular methods for printing on shirts all around the world. The following list mentions some of the most essential advantages of discharge printing.

  1.     The most useful advantage of discharge printing is that it is the best method to print on dark fabric. There are many other methods for printing on dark fabric but the dark discharge printing fabric is the best for one particular reason: no layer of white ink is needed to act as an underbase. This means that you can dye the dark fabric directly.
  2.     The result of discharge printing shirts is a very softer look and feel to the fabric. Who doesn’t want to feel both awesome and comfortable in their outfit? The discharge printing method makes you feel exactly that in your beautifully designed T-shirt.
  3.     The discharge screen printing can also be used to produce vibrant colored patterns on your T-shirt.
  4.     If you want lightweight breathable clothing, discharge printing is definitely the go-to option for you. Especially if you also want big pattern designs on your T-shirt.
  5.     If you want a design with tiny and more details, discharge printing has got you covered. Discharge printing shirts will do justice to all the spectacular little details that you want in your design.
Discharge Printing: The Downside:

The above-mentioned advantages might have amazed you and you would have definitely thought there must be some disadvantage to discharge printing. Well, there are some disadvantages but they are easily outweighed by the advantages.

  1.     One disadvantage of this process is that you have to wash the T-shirt before they settle into their “no feel” state. You might feel the ink sitting on top the first time around, but eventually, it will be washed away and the result will be a smooth and comfortable T-shirt.
  2.     Discharge printing might not be suitable for fabric other than cotton.
What Is An Underbase?

An underbase is mostly used while printing on dark shirts. You can think of it as preparing a surface before you start painting. To avoid losing the vibrancy to the dark fabric underneath, we apply a white or grey ink on the T-shirt first. We can then move on to print other colors on top of this underbase. If you don’t use high-opacity inks, you’ll definitely need an underbase for most of the prints on anything other than pastel or white color.

Why Use An Underbase?

There are many explanations for utilizing this strategy. The first one is color accuracy. Using an underbase will eliminate any potential risks the dark color of the fabric can cause to the colors on top. Secondly, printing on a white underbase will make sure that the final output is vibrant and pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, using an underbase in the discharge printing process helps reduce fibrillation. It gives a smooth overall base for the ink to sit on top off the surface.

More About Underbase:

The complete description of the underbase given above might feel overwhelming to you. As a matter of fact, underbase is not a very old technique in the discharge printing world. But it has gained immense popularity because of its exceptional advantages. When underbase technique was not available, printers would try and hit each color twice. There were not many colors except white and gray so most of the time, they would get away with it. But now, times have changed. Every little detail in pattern is valued both by customers and printers, and this is where the underbase technique comes in.

When Can You Avoid Using An Underbase?

If having a vintage look is one of your top priorities, you should ask for the underbase to be left out from the discharge printing process. But you must know what you might be losing out on a more lightweight soft print for a less vibrant T-shirt with minimal color accuracy. You might consider some other techniques to give your T-shirt a vibrant look other than leaving out the underbase. One good option could be to use a water-based ink or other thinned-down inks.


Discharge Printing and underbase technique have come a long way since they were first introduced. They have gained immense popularity throughout the world due to their unmatched benefits. People prefer discharge printing and underbase not solely because of its technical advantages but because they make their T-shirts look extraordinarily aesthetic. One thing is for sure: discharge printing and underbase techniques are the future of the screen printing industry.

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