Screen printing (also known as silk screening) is a printing technique that uses stencils and ink to create designs on fabric. Although it requires signiﬁcantly more set-up time than digital printing or heat transfer, screen printing remains popular because it has lasting results.
SCREEN PRINTING PROCESS
Screen printing has a steep learning curve that requires knowledge of everything from making screens and press set-up to actual printing.
Create a customized graphic using professional graphics software. The graphic must be separated by color, with each color printed on its own clear ﬁlm positive. Fewer colors mean a simpler set-up, resulting in lower costs.
Following a process that requires the use of a darkroom and photographic chemicals, a stencil, known as a screen, is made for each colour in the graphic image.
Each screen must be inserted and carefully aligned in the printing press to ensure that adjacent colors in the image are correctly aligned. The printing press applies ink to each screen, then uses pressure to squeeze the ink through the screen’s open mesh areas and onto the shirt. There are three common types of screen printing presses: ﬂat-bed; cylinder; and rotary, which is the most widely used.
After all colors are printed, the shirt is placed in a drying chamber at around 350 degrees F for about 40 seconds to cure the screen print ink. Once cooled, the shirt is ready to wear.
Some Screen Printing History
Screen printing was a technique first used by the Chinese around 2000 years ago. Human hair was stretched across a wooden frame to create a screen. Stencils made from leaves were then attached to the screens. This is considered to be the first application of screen printing. Later, the Japanese adopted the screen printing process and used woven silk to create the mesh and lacquers to make stencils. The use of silk is where screen printing got its alternative name “Silk Screening”. When it comes to apparel printing, screen printing is the industry standard for superior quality. Most graphic tees sold in major retail stores have been screen printed. The process is designed to make garments bold in appearance yet cost effective at the same time. Today, screen printing is accomplished by making a mesh stencil (called a screen) for each color that needs to be printed. Screens must be lined up (or registered) and printed on test sheets to ensure that all of the colors line up correctly. Inks are then pushed through the screens one color at a time onto the apparel. Finally, each piece is run through a large dryer to cure the inks.
Can I Only Print 1 pieces & Why Do I Have to Print in Bulk?
Screen printing is designed to be printed in bulk. The printing part of the process is actually the fastest part. All the costs and time are in the setup. This is why the cost per Card goes down the more you print per design.
A lot of work goes into getting a Product ready to print and requires almost every employee at the company. Artwork has to be mocked up and films have to be created. After this, the screens department converts the film into screens. Next, the printers setup the presses to run the Card. It takes a good bit of time to setup a press to run Card.
Because of this we cannot print 1 piece at a time. The smallest order we will do is 10 of the same design.
How Much Does it Cost?
A lot of factors go into the final cost of a screen printed. We have tried to make things as simple as possible, starting with providing free screens & setup fees. You just need to decide how many Impression or Ink Color will be in the design.
If you don’t know exactly what colors you need, no problem. We will do our best to pick them out for you but cannot guarantee a perfect outcome (this is called “PMS Color Matching”). Every computer monitor is different, so the colors on your screen will look different when displayed on the monitors in our art department.
Your print will only be as good as the artwork you provide. All files need to be at least 300 dpi or vector format & sized to the size it should be printed. Learn more about prepping your artwork files.