Fibrillation has probably been an issue for as long textile screen printers have been printing. It’s not to be confused with the identical medical term, though sometimes it’s so frustrating that it may feel as if the printing fibrillation can lead to the medical fibrillation.
If you’re new to the industry, fibrillation is when the fibers on the garment stick up through the print to give it a “faded” look. This might be fine if you’re trying to create a worn, faded look but it’s just annoying when you’re not. And don’t think it’s a fabric quality issue. Ironically the “better” the fabric, for example nice soft brushed cotton Tees, the greater the fibrillation issue can be.
Over the years various fibrillation solutions have been used. One effective measure is a clear first-down screen to “glue” the fibers flat but the downside of this is a heavier print. In more recent times it seems that most printers are using a screen with exposed emulsion but no image as the first screen in the printing sequence to press the fibers down. A harder squeegee blade, flooding with a bit of clear base to provide lubrication for the squeegee, and extra pressure is widely used.
There are solutions to fibrillation, the trick is just to find the one that works best for you and the print you’re trying to achieve.