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What is White Underbase and why is it required for screen printing?

What is an underbase?

An underbase is a layer of ink (generally white or other light color) that is printed as a "base" on a dark shirt for other colors to sit on. This gives the top colors more brilliance. It’s a similar concept to painting a base coat of primer under your main paint color. Since the underbase is generally a high opacity ink, it is flash-cured before the top colors are printed over it. Not only does underbasing slow production, but it is often an extra colour that the customer did not plan on - or one that sales did not get enough money for. However, it is essential to providing vibrant colours on a dark substrate.

Why use an white underbase?

The first reason for an underbase is for colour vibrancy. Although you could print each colour as a high opacity ink and flash after each colour, an underbase allows the print to have a bright look yet be soft to the touch because the underbase is printed through lower mesh counts and the top colours through very high mesh counts.  The second reason is colour accuracy.  Printing on top of a white base will mostly eliminate the possibility of the shirt colour affecting the top colours.

Is underbasing required?

It depends on the print colours (Pantone Colour) on the dark products. If the product is white or light-coloured, and light print colour (some Pantone colours) you probably can get away without an underbase and the colours will stay true. But on dark products, the top colours will be muted without an underbase.

When your print colour is Light colour on dark surface products

We recommend that a white base be added to your order as the print colour will be affected by the dark background and will produce a duller shade of the print colour. With the white base we can ensure the printed colour will be a true and vibrant colour of your logo. Please note that adding a white base will incur an additional cost.