10 Things to Know About the Screen Printing ProcessJane Chaffee
June 18, 2019
Glasses on, pencils out.
It’s time for a little screen printing 101. Here are ten quick, digestible facts that will make you that much closer to being a screen printing expert. Or maybe they will just help you on Jeopardy someday.
- Screen printing is the most common type of garment printing.
- Modern day techniques were born from ancient Chinese silk-screening techniques.
- Now, giant automatic presses can do the work that’s been done manually for centuries. Although, plenty of people still print on manual presses.
- Screen printing is called screen printing because it literally pushes ink through screens. If you have a multi-color print job, each color requires a separate screen. This is why there’s a limit to the number of colors and why the cost increases with each color.
- Not all garments print the same. Different inks or techniques are better on different fabrics. Talk with your printer about how best to print on a certain garment. GOEX tees are fabricated to be great quality and to provide great prints!
- Different looks can be achieved based on how the art is created or with the specific mesh of the screen used to print the graphic or with the type of ink. All of these elements factor into the overall look and feel of the print.
- There are different types of inks. Plastisol ink lasts in gel form forever, limiting waste. Water-based inks dry out quickly so they have to be opened/mixed right before the shirts go on press so printers have to know how much ink they’ll need in order to avoid waste.
- After the ink has been transferred onto the shirt, the shirt must be “cured” — a fancy way to say the shirt needs to dry. Our conveyor belt oven is about 40 feet long and it takes shirts around a minute and a half to get from one end to the other.
- Did you know screen printing can be a recyclable process? Screens can be reclaimed, meaning that the emulsion, ink, and design stencil are removed, using a power sprayer and diluting solution. Then, the screens can be prepped again for a new design.
- Screen printing is an art, not a science. Printers learn the best combination of art, ink type, screen type, squeegee pressure, etc. to achieve an optimal print quality and look.
Try your hand at it.
We have an open door policy! Swing by our Kansas City office anytime. We may even let you take a spin on the hand press — see if you have the squeegee-skills to push the ink onto a tee. Or watch this short video from our friends at Ryonet on how to print tees in your own home.