Custom Screen Printing

We provide custom screen printing on shirts, hoodies, totes and more.
Along with traditional inks, we use discharge and waterbased inks.

Vacord Screen Printing is a custom apparel printing company shipping nationwide, which has been providing quality custom apparel since 2006, focusing on custom shirts and hoodies.

Vacord offers you custom printing on t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tanks, tote bags and more, with hundreds of different styles for men, children and women. We’d love to help you with your project, and promise you’ll be happy with the results.

We specialize in discharge ink, which is a way to remove the shirt’s color and replace it. This produces a very soft and vibrant print. With discharge, the print is part of the shirt, so it’s super soft and very cool. For lighter color garments, we can use waterbased inks, and for polyester and performance fabrics, as well as most hoodies, we love using traditional inks to get the job done properly and beautifully.

We’re located in the Philadelphia area but ship anywhere in the Continental USA for free. Email us or call 1-888-787-4587 for answers to your questions.

We stand behind our work. Any order we receive, we’re going to do our very best to make it as awesome as possible. If we don’t think we can get top notch results, we will turn down the order, or figure out a way to make it come out great. We’re very confident in our printing. If we make an error, we’ll fix it.

Besides the quality of our work, we take pride in making the whole process easy for you, with quick communication and answers to your questions, as well as expert knowledge in the craft.

What do I need to know about your printing service?

We have a minimum of 48 pieces per design for 1 color work, or 100 pieces for multi-color.

Pricing is based on three factors: amount of pieces printed, how complicated the printing is, type of garment used.

The price per item goes down as the amount ordered goes up. We have price breaks at 100, 200, 300 and 500 pieces. If you order multiple designs at a time, we will work with you on better overall pricing.

Conversely, the price per items goes up as the complexity increases.

We give free shipping in the Continetal USA straight to your address via UPS Ground and free set up.

We usually use discharge and waterbased inks on 100% cotton, but we’ll use whatever will give the best results for your specific needs.

Hoodies are usually not 100% cotton, so traditional inks should be used for them, which we can do with very nice results.

Orders usually ship within two weeks or less from when we get the blanks. We can estimate when we’ll ship when you request a quote.

What's the difference between us and other screen printers?

We’re a small company. We’re professionals, but a fairly small shop, still capable of producing thousands of shirts every day, but not so huge that you get lost in a sea of customers. We focus on you.

When you work with us, you will receive special attention and we guarantee you’ll be happy with your order.

Since we’re not huge, we can get to your order more quickly, as we don’t have a backed up production schedule where your order is in queue to be printed in three or six weeks.

With us, communication is easy. Expect generally quick replies to emails and friendly phone calls. Our customers are often amazed by how quickly we reply to emails, and how painless we make the entire ordering process, from start to finish.

We provide affordable pricing. While we focus on quality of production and service, we can still give very reasonable pricing. We offer great value.

Silk screen printing?

What is silk screen printing and how is it different?

Silk Screen Printing is just an old term for screen printing. Way back when in the 1940s, silk was used in the screens, but now it’s all polyester mesh, which is stronger and more resilient. Printers want the mesh in their screens to be as tight and strong as possible, in order to get the best print quality possible.

So yes, “silkscreening” and “silk screen printing” are the exact same thing as screen printing, just a much older term!

The example above is an Anvil 980 shirt in the Moss Green color. The shirt has been printed with bright clear discharge ink with a black trim. On the enlarged section, you can see how the discharge ink has removed the shirt’s color to become nearly white, like the raw cotton’s original color.

The inks we use

There are two main categories of screen printing ink:

- Waterbased / Discharge ink
- Traditional / Plastisol ink

Since 2008, Vacord Screen Printing has been known for discharge screen printing. Discharge ink is a type of waterbased ink. It works by removing the fabric’s dye color and optionally replacing it with another color. Waterbased inks contain pigment held in a water based solution of varying viscosity, and can air dry. The discharge inks, however, require a lot of heat energy to activate. They go onto the garment almost clear looking at times, and then once passed through a conveyor belt oven, the chemicals activate and the “bleaching” effect takes place. It takes a lot of time and energy for a proper cure of a discharge print, so large, professional screen printing ovens are needed. Some regular waterbased inks can be wash-fast without curing with heat.

What’s the difference between discharge and waterbased inks and traditional inks?

For lighter color garments we can use waterbased inks, and for darker 100% cotton garments we use discharge inks. Discharge is a type of waterbased ink. These inks result in a very soft print and settle into the fabric so that they can’t be felt. We will print with whatever ink is best suited for the specific needs of your order. Traditional inks are best for blend fabrics like dark 50/50 blends and most hoodies.

Discharge inks are a special kind of ink that removes the shirt’s color. It is quirky, and doesn’t always work with all colors, but we’re very skilled in using it. Generally, dark colors do best. Email us if you have questions about printing on any certain color and we will let you know what we think. Discharge is sort of like printing with bleach, except that it doesn’t hurt the shirt material at all. It’s a great way to get a red design on a black shirt, for example.

Traditional ink, or plastisol, is PVC-based ink (polyvinyl chloride) and is considered a solid ink. It can never dry on its own, and requires being cured with heat. It’s a wonderful solution for cases where the garment can’t be printed with discharge ink, such as blend shirts, hoodies, or athletic wear. Polyester cannot use discharge ink, so all Dri-Fit and 100% polyester athletic clothing requires plastisol printing for best results.

Discharge ink removes and replaces the shirt’s color, as seen in this photo where the red is super soft because it’s embedded into the black shirt, not sitting on top of the shirt

Benefits of water based and discharge inks

- Super soft printing
- The discharge/waterbased print is part of the fabric
- Vibrant prints are possible
- Great for cotton shirts
- No heavy print on the shirt
- Breathes well
- Can be ironed
- Quick production with multiple colors because it can be printed “wet on wet”
- People notice the higher quality and softer touch
- Ideal for higher-end printing

drawbacks of water based and discharge inks

- Not all shirt colors work well
- Only works on cotton fibers, so blend shirts can be difficult
- Inks can air dry, which can be difficult in production
- Color matching on blend fabrics can be tricky

Note: Discharge inks can work on blend fabrics, but this printing is considered experimental and the customer has to be aware that the results may not be as perfect as 100% cotton

Benefits of traditional inks

- Can work on virtually any fabric
- Neon effects, glow in the dark, and other speciality inks are plastisol inks
- Allows true color matching, regardless of the fabric color or blend
- Great for polo and athletic shirts

drawbacks of traditional inks

- Can be heavier on the garment
- May require a white underbase
- Slower for manual production

One layer of white plastisol ink, which we refer to as a "punk rock" print, on a triblend shirt. Doing just one layer of traditional ink makes the print softer and vintage looking.

water based screen printing

Waterbased ink (water based screen printing) is a type of screen printing in which the pigment (color) is held in a thick liquid that is based on water, instead of a plastic based liquid like traditional, or plastisol, ink. It works great on white and lighter color shirts, but because it is not opaque, it does not work well on darker garments. For those dark shirts and hoodies, discharge ink should be used, which is a version of waterbased ink that removes the shirt’s color and replaces it. Discharge only works on cotton, but waterbased ink can be used on 50/50 blends as well as 100% synthetic fiber garments.

Waterbased ink used to be lower quality, and only apt for hobbyists, but improvements in the inks have made it appropriate for commercial production. Many customers now seek out waterbased screen printing for soft and vibrant results. It can be trickier than traditional ink, because it will air-dry, and that includes drying in the screens if one moves too slowly while printing or walks away from the press during a production run. But with diligence and effort, one can become a great waterbased printer.

Two color waterbased ink on a white shirt, which lets you use the white of the shirt within the design too.


positives of water based ink

- Super soft prints
- Vibrant colors
- Can be used to print high detail and halftone prints
- Pretty eco-friendly
- Pantone color matching is possible, and inks come in a ton of different colors
- Won’t fade, crack or peel
- Ink settles into fabric and is not a heavy layer on top
- Black waterbased ink is very soft and works on almost all colors

negatives of water based ink

- Doesn’t work on darker garments (but discharge ink does)
- Difficult to use on tote bags
- Can dry and clog screens during production if left for a long time
- Best for white and lighter color shirts

Have questions about custom screen printing?

Send in information about your project to get a quote back by email

Start a conversation. Let us know what questions you may have, or what your project would be like.

Not sure of all your details? That’s fine. We can figure things out together and give you advice on how to get the best results for your specific needs.

Use this contact form or email us at info@vacord.com.

We look forward to working with you.

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What happens after you submit your info?

We'll review your info and figure out prices and best approaches for your specific needs

We'll email you back within a business day with answers or pricing

We work with you to discuss the best approach for your order

When you're ready to go, we'll invoice you and start the printing! (two week turnaround is standard)