First off, the question, "Can you discharge on tri-blends" is the wrong question to ask. You can absolutely discharge on tr-blends. The question one should really be asking is, "What result will I get discharging a tri-blend?"
The answer here is a bit like the number of colors the Canvas 3001 is available in, not black & white with a lot of variations.
Also, if you're not sure exactly what a tri-blend is, we have an article for that called What Exactly Is A Tri-Blend?
Back to discharging a tri-blend.
Realistically? It depends on the shirt and specifically it depends on the fabric and it's composition. Obviously, there are three parts to the fabric of a tri-blend (it's not called a tri-blend for no reason). Those three part are: cotton, rayon, and polyester.
1) Cotton: Cotton is a great material from a discharge perspective. When discharging a tri-blend, the discharge ink is going to remove the pigment from the cotton and redye the cotton the desired color (your ink color).
2) Rayon: Rayon is a fabric made from purified cellulose fibers, which are typically created from wood pulp. Rayon is also rather discharge friendly and will act similarly to the cotton, allowing the color to be pulled from it and redyed.
3) Polyester: Polyester is the third component to a tri-blend and when it comes to discharging tri-blends, this is our "problem child" (no offense to all the third oldest children out there). Polyester is a synthetic fiber that does not react to discharge ink, it's basically vaccinated against discharge ink. Discharge has little effect on poly, meaning whatever color the polyester is, it's going to remain that color and our discharge ink is not going to be able to redye it the color we desire. This is where the vintage look often comes from when printing on tri-blend fabrics. If there is a dark polyester in the fabric, that dark polyester is going to influence the print result and "shine through" the ink, giving the vintage or heathered look.
- Best Shirt Fabrics for Discharge Ink: Fabrics that have white polyester and white rayon. These allow for a very clean print.
- Worst Shirt Fabrics for Discharge Ink: Red, Kelly Green or Royal Blue fabrics. These fabrics pigments do not react well to discharge inks.
Tri-Blend Fabric: A shirt made with cotton, polyester and rayon.
Discharge Ink: A water based ink that removes, mutes or replaces a garment’s color.
Examples of Printed Tri-Blends:
Some shots of prints on tri-blend shirts.
Yes. You can make incredible discharge prints on tri-blend shirts with water-based inks as long as you know what to expect based on your ink and shirt combination. That's what our team is great at helping with. Give us a call and let’s get your shirts on press.