Understanding the basics of Screen Printing to help plan your budget and artwork.

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Screen Printing involves a technique where a fine mesh material is fixed to a frame creating a ‘screen’. A stencil design is cut and held in place under the screen. Ink is then forced through the mesh and stencil ‘printing’ onto the surface below. The ink needs to be left to dry for 12 hours.

As a general rule pricing for Screen Printing is based on the cost of setting up screens for each colour in your design and for each new position where you want to see print.

This means the more colours and positions you have in your design the more costly it makes the printing.

Screen Printing is designed to print multiples of the same product at speed.

This means it is not cost effective for print runs smaller than 25 units.

Screen Printing gives a great finish to solid colour designs and is the most widely used printing method for t-shirts, bags, transfers, decals. It actually makes it possible to stencil any colour ink onto pretty much any material.

– – – – is video inserted here – about how it works / guide to saving costs – – –

–some kind of text here to link to prices being available for tees, bags etc — do this once rest of text is written —

 

The Process

Artwork:

Once your artwork has been created (nowadays on digital Graphics Package such as Adobe Photoshop for Bitmap images or Illustrator for Vector images) We create a positive film. (seen Here)
Dispell the myth: screenprinting is not about only printing ‘block graphics’ these two examples show films produced by us where halftones are generated at fine resolution.

Coated screen:

A screen is a aluminium frame with a nylon mesh stretch to high tension and bonded to the frame.These screen are coated with a light (UV) sensitive emulsion that become the stencil.

Exposure

To create the screen we print with we need to create a stencil (where by the ink can be controlled in terms of how much is let through the mesh).
Using the film positioned under the coated screen it is exposed to the UV light in our exposure unit. Any area of the screen that has been blocked by the stencil remain water soluble… so , once the screen is ready, we wash out the ‘un exposed’ part of the screen to unveil the stencil. Seen here.

Multiple colours

When creating a ‘multi colour’ print or logo the process above need to be completed for each colour in your design/artwork.

Registration

Single colour designs, do not really require any ‘registration’ as such but do require time to get the artwork to print in the desired location.
Multi colour prints require ‘registration’ this is where the artwork is lined up ‘layer to layer’ or more ‘colour to colour’ – we have all seen a newspaper that can look like its a magic eye poster or send your eyes a bit squiffy… this is where the job has fallen out of registration.To make sure the colours are registered correctly printers use what are called registration marks (the little cross hairs you often see in the corner of artwork supplied by designers) and these all need to be lined up with one another… see here.

Substrate

Substarte is a word that is used in the industry to confuse the customer.. it would seem?
By this we simple mean – T-shirt, textiles, fabric , paper etc… so just the media or surface you wish to print on

Ink

There are many different inks used to achieve different results (more on inks) and this goes for all ‘substrates’

Printing (in this example we cover t-shirt printing)

Textile printing – so once the ink has been chosen to achieve the desired result we can begin printing:
First the screen is ‘flooded’ where we prime the screen full of ink prior to letting the screen in contact with the t-shirt.
Then, depending on the result required; using a squeegee the ink is pushed through the screen (only where the stencil dictates) and onto the garment below.

See a few examples here:

To achieve the best result on dark garments it is often require to have a white base, this is often refered to as a ‘flash’, ‘flash base’ or ‘flash white’ this is where a layer of white ink is applied to the garment first and then partially cured under the ‘Flash dryer’ then all the subsequent layers of ink are applied on top.

Drying/Curing

Once the Garment is printed we need to set the ink permenantly.  This is achieved by removing the solvent from the ink with heat. The solvent can come in different forms but the most common is oil based or waterbased (whereby the water is the acting solvent) drawing the solvent from the ink leaves the garment with a permenant print.

Adding the costs up…
With the processes involved you can probably see where you can save money/time etc… but as a rule apply the following:

. The more colours the more the cost increase
. The more surfaces, ie. front, back, sleeve etc… the more the costs increase as there is simply more handling, drying etc..
. Its more cost effective to have larger rather than smaller runs with any screen printed product

We have tried to make this as clear as possible – but you can also watch short videos here on the print and application of some of our products.