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Screen Printing

What is Screen Printing?

Screen Printing is one of the oldest methods of decorating garments and other substrates.   Screen Printing involves preparing a screen with photo sensitive emulsion, applying Art printed on a transfer in black ink, and exposing the screen to light.   When exposed to light the emulsion hardens where the light touches it and remains soft where the black art print blocks the light.   When rinsed under high pressure, the emulsion falls out of the art work area and allows ink to pass through onto a garment.   The screen is placed on a variety of presses depending on the printer's equipment choice and shirts (or other substrates) are placed beneath the screen.   Ink is pressed with a squeegee onto the garment beneath the screen.  

What are the Advantages of Screen Printing?

  • Screen Printing is fast and can produce hundreds of prints per hour

  • Talented Screen Printers can use 4 Colors of Ink, plus 2 White Screens to produce photorealistic prints at high speed. (We are Talented) 

  • The most common ink used is Plastisol which can last for many years after applied to garments.  It is very durable against many washings.

  • Specialty processes such as discharge ink, puff inks, and suede inks can produce unique effects.  

  • Screen Printing is the most cost effective way to print large orders.

  • The "feel" of screen printing is often desired by consumers.

What is the Disadvantage of Screen Printing?

  • Setting up each job is the time consuming part of screen printing.  Art must be printed in solid black, screens must be cleaned, degreased, and then dried.  Once dry they are coated with emulsion, and then dried again.   Once dry the art is placed on the screen and it is exposed to light.   Emulsion is washed out of exposed screen and then screen must dry again.   After this the screen is taped off to prevent ink from escaping in edges.  Screen is applied to press and aligned to fit on the ideal area of the garment.   This same process is repeated for each and every color and each area of the shirt that needs to be covered.   Multiple colors must be registered (aligned) to match the other colors perfectly.  All of this is costly and why screen fees typically apply to most orders, especially in quantities less than 4 dozen.

  • Because of the above process Screen or Prep fees are often applied to the cost of screen printing, especially in smaller quantity orders.

  • Plastisol and Discharge inks are not environmentally friendly and use harsh chemicals in the process.

  • Screen Printing requires longer lead times for production

  • Not the best method for variable input data such as names, numbers and quotes although many sports apparel printers do use screen printing for numbers on jerseys and they are set up to do it efficiently.  (We are not Sports Apparel Printers but can refer you to very good ones).  

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