Printing on silicone swimming caps

There are three popular materials that are used to make swim caps. These materials are latex, lycra, and silicone. The ink to decorate latex and lycra swim caps is and has been available in abundance. Decorating silicone swimming caps on the other hand has been challenging because there has not been a good silicone ink. Luck of knowledge and good ink are the main reasons printing on silicone swimming caps has been challenging.

Many decorators come to us looking for solutions on how to print onto silicone rubber products. Recently, we’ve been getting questions about printing on silicone swimming caps.  Some typical questions we get are:

  • How do you print onto swim caps?
  • How do you determine what material a swim cap is made of?
  • What type of inks do you use to print on silicone swimming caps?
  • Pad or screen printing, which is the best method?

In this article we will answer how to print onto silicone swim caps in detail as well as a step by step silicone swim cap printing process.

What is the material?

Silicone rubber is generally non-reactive, stable, and resistant to extreme environments. Silicone is able to withstand temperatures from -55 °C to +300 °C (-67°F to 572°F) while still maintaining its useful properties. To determine if a swim cap is made of silicone, put it on an oven at 400°F for a minute or less.  If the swim cap melts, then you can conclude that the swim cap is not made of silicone.  If it does not melt then it is silicone.

Type of ink for silicone swim caps

Only silicone inks will adhere onto silicone based substrate. This is because only silicone adheres to silicone. No other ink will work. We recommend the Natron™ SE™ Silicone inks for printing swim caps.  The SE silicone inks are easy to use, flexible, and offer excellent opacity.

Printing swim caps

You can print on swim caps using a screen printing or pad printing machine.  Pad printing is ideal for printing small graphics (up-to 3 inches or 76mm) onto the swim caps. Screen printing is good for small, large, and bold graphics. If you have both pad and screen printing machines, we recommend that you choose the machine to print with depending on the size of the graphic. In addition, you should also consider the level of opacity you are looking to achieve.  Pad printing machines can be limited in the amount of ink lay down. When screen printing on silicone swim caps, it is possible to achieve very incredible opacity with two or three passes.

As a result, we recommend screen printing process. For best results printing silicone swim caps use 125 to 230 mesh screens.

Once done printing, dry and cure the ink through an oven at 375 – 400°F for 4 – 6 minutes.

Very important:  Some silicone swim caps have a clear coating on them.  This coating will prevent ink from adhering onto the silicone.  We offer the SCW™ kit for improving the ink adhering to the silicone swim cap.

We recommend to always do a test run before running a full production run.  This will help you determine your ideal settings for printing the silicone swim caps.

Printing Steps:

  • Pour the ink onto a mixing cup. Note the weight of the ink
  • Add catalyst onto the ink – 10% of the inks weight
  • Thoroughly mix the ink and the catalyst together .
  • Print the swim caps
  • Dry them through and oven at 375 – 400°F for 4 – 6 minutes.

You’re done. It is that easy!

We are always available to answer any questions that you may have. You can contact us by clicking here or visit our support hub for more answers.