Screen printing involves the application of ink to a stenciled mesh screen to produce a printed design. This popular technique is used in many industries. It is likely you have used or worn a screen-printed product, even though you may not know it. Although the process is also known as silk screen printing or serigraphy, it all refers to the same basic technique.
Screen printing can be used to create posters, large canvases and artwork. However, it can also be used for printing fabrics and textiles. This makes it great for making all kinds of products such as Prints R Us Custom T Shirts. This guide will answer all your questions regarding silk screen printing.
- What’s screen printing?
- Why screen printing is used?
- Step-by-step screen printing instructions
- A guide for screen printing equipment
- Will screen printing fade?
- What is the difference between screen printing and digital printing?
- What is the difference between screen printing and heat transfer printing?
- History of screen printing
What is screen printing?
Screen printing refers to the transfer of a stencilled design onto flat surfaces using a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. Screen printing is most common on paper and fabric. However, it’s possible to screen print onto metal, plastic, wood and glass with special inks. You create a stencil using fine mesh screens. Next, push ink (or paint in the case for artwork or posters) through the stencil to leave an impression on the surface below.
This process is also known as’silk screening’ or’silkscreen printing’. While the actual printing process is fairly similar, the method of creating the stencil can vary depending on the materials. There are many stencilling methods:
- Use vinyl or masking tape to cover any areas you wish.
- Use’screenblockers’ like glue or lacquer to paint the stencil onto the mesh.
- You can create a stencil by using a light-sensitive oil to make it. The stencil is then used to develop a photograph.
Screen printing can be used to create designs that use one or more shades of ink. Multicoloured items require that the colours be applied individually using separate stencils.
Screen printing is used for what?
Screen printing is a popular technique because it can produce vivid colours even on dark fabrics. The paint or ink is also spread on the paper or fabric’s surface, giving the print a pleasant tactile feel.
This technique is popular because it allows the printers to reproduce a design multiple time. The same stencil can be used again and again to create multiple copies of the same accessory or garment. Screen printing is a great way to create large quantities of Prints R Us Custom T Shirts for teams and work uniforms.
It’s possible to create complex multi-coloured designs when using professional equipment and an experienced printer. Although the process is more complex than digital printing, it allows for more vibrant colouring than can be achieved with digital printing.
Step by step screen printing
Screen printing can be done in many different ways, but all of them use the same basic technique. This is the type of printing that we will discuss below. It uses a special light reactive emulsion to create custom stencils. This tends to be one of the most common types of commercial printing.
We’ll walk you through each step of the screen printing process. A video showing the screen printing process in action has been created so that you can see how our high-quality T-Shirt Printing Jacksonville FL | Custom Screen Printing | Prints R Us clothing is made.
Step 1: Create the design
The printer will take the design that they wish to print on the final product and then print it onto transparent acetate film. This is used to create the stencil.
Step 2: Now the screen is ready
The printer will then choose a mesh screen that suits the complexity of the design and the texture of fabric to be printed. The mesh screen is then coated in light-reactive oil emulsion. This will make it harden under bright lighting.
Step 3: Now, expose the emulsion
After the design has been printed on the acetate sheet, the entire thing is exposed to bright sunlight. The light hardens emulsion so that the design-covered parts of the screen remain liquid.
If you plan to use more than one color in the final design, a separate screen is required to apply each layer. Multi-colored products can only be created by a printer who has the ability to design and align each stencil perfectly.
Step 4: Wash the emulsion off and create the stencil
After the screen has been exposed for a certain time, any areas not covered by the design of the screen will have become hardened. The unhardened emulsion should be carefully rinsed off. This creates a clear imprint on the screen that allows ink to flow through.
After drying, the screen is ready for printing. The printer will make any corrections or touch-ups necessary to ensure that the imprint matches the original design. Now the stencil can be used.
Step 5: The item is ready for printing
The screen is placed on the printing press. The garment or item being printed is then laid flat on the printing board.
There are many types of presses available, including automatic and manual, but the majority of commercial printers use an automatic rotary-carousel printer. This allows multiple screens to be used simultaneously. Many businesses including https://printsrus.com/ apply separate colours to multicoloured prints to create beautiful custom printing
Step 6: Apply the ink through the screen onto your item
The screen is then lowered onto the board. The ink is applied to the top of the screen and a squeegee used to move the ink along its entire length. This pushes the ink through open areas of stencil to imprint the design underneath.
If multiple items are being created by the printer, the screen is raised to allow for a new garment to be placed on the printing board. This is repeated again.
After all items have been printed, the stencil is washed with a special detergent so that the mesh can be used again to make new stencils.
Step 7: Now the product is dried, inspected and finished
After printing, the product is dried in a dryer. This ‘cure’ ink creates a smooth and colourfast finish. Before being handed to the new owner, the final product is checked for any residue and washed well.
Screen printing equipment: A guide
A screen printer must have the right tools to produce sharp prints. We’ll be discussing every piece of equipment used in screen printing, as well as their functions during the printing process.
Screen printing press
Although it is possible screen print using a mesh screen and a squeezegee, many printers prefer to use the press because it allows them to print more items at once. The press keeps the screen in place between prints and makes it easy to change the paper or clothing.
There are three types: semi-automatic, manual, and automated presses. Manual presses can only be operated by hand. They are labour-intensive. Semi-automatic presses can be partially automated, but require manual input to change the items. Automatic presses, on the other hand, are fully automated and require very little input.
Semi- or fully automated presses are best for large orders. They allow faster printing, reduce mistakes, and enable businesses to produce high volumes of items. A manual table-top (sometimes called a “handbench” press) might be better suited for smaller companies or hobbyists who screen print.
The ink, pigment, or paint is pushed through a mesh screen onto the item to be printed. This transfers a coloured imprint from the stencil design onto it.
There are many factors that go into choosing the right ink, beyond just picking a color. There are many specialty inks that can be used to produce different effects on your finished product. To create unique looks and feel, a printer might use texturized inks, glittery inks or puff inks. Screen printing inks may not work well on all fabrics.
Printers use an ink that is machine washable after it has been heat-treated. This creates a long-lasting, colourfast item that can be worn repeatedly.
The Silk Screen
Silk screen printing uses a metal frame or wooden frame that has a fine mesh fabric over it. This mesh was traditionally made from silk thread. However, polyester fabrics offer similar performance at a lower cost. You can choose the thickness and thread count to match the fabric or surface being printed. Smaller spaces between the threads allow for more detail in the print.
After the screen has been covered in emulsion, and left exposed, it can be used as a stencil. It can be washed after the screen printing process is complete.
A squeegee consists of a rubber blade that is attached to a long, wooden, or plastic handle. It is used to push ink through the mesh screen onto the printed surface. A squeegee of the same size as the screen frame will be used by the printer to provide better coverage.
For printing intricate designs that have lots of detail, a firmer rubber blade will be better as it will ensure that every nook and cranny of the stencil is coated with ink. When printing on fabric or printing smaller designs, a softer and more yielding rubber squeezegee is preferred.
The Washing Station
To remove any traces of emulsion from the screens, they must be washed. Larger print shops may need to use large tubs of special cleaning liquid or acid to remove the embossing, while smaller printers can use a water trough, sink or power hose to clean their screens.
Is it possible to wash off screen printing ink?
The garment should not be washed unless it has been screen printed properly by a professional using heat-treated washable dye ink. The printer must ensure that the ink has been set according to manufacturer guidelines to ensure a colorfast finish. The drying time and temperature will vary according to the type of fabric and ink used. Therefore, the printer must follow the manufacturer’s guidelines if they wish to make a durable, washable item.
What’s the difference between digital and screen printing?
Digital printing is done directly on a fabric using a specialised fabric printer (a bit like an inkjet printer). This is different from screen printing in that the digital printer transfers the design directly to the fabric. Multiple colours can be applied simultaneously, as there is no need for a stencil. This makes it a popular technique for printing intricate or colourful designs.
Digital printing is more affordable than screen printing because it requires very little setup. This makes it a great option for small quantities of clothing and single items. It uses a computerised image instead of a stencil so it is great for creating photographic or detailed designs. It doesn’t offer the same level of intensity as screen printing because the colours are printed using CMYK-style dots rather than solid blocks. A digital printer can’t produce texturised effects.