Screen Printing involves the passing of ink or any other printing medium through mesh or ‘screens’ that have been stretched on a frame, and to which a stencil has been applied. The stencil openings are what determine the image that will be imprinted. Very much like the old fashioned potato exercise you did at school or even nursery.
Screen Printing is used to print images onto textile, ceramics, plastic, glass, paper, metal and wood. It is particularly suitable for flat or relatively flat surfaces. Finished garments include shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, aprons and bags. Other items that can be Screen Printed include writing pads, mouse mats and promotional hand outs as well as residential for-sale boards and directional signs.
History of Screen Printing:
Screen Printing is the oldest, most common and versatile method of printing, specifically within the promotional merchandise industry. Originating in 1907, it was Samuel Simon near Manchester who patented the first ever industrial screen printing process. This technique became hugely popular for printing signs and posters in large quantities and has come a long way today.
Benefits of Screen Printing:
The single greatest benefit of using Screen Printing is that it is suitable for a wide variety of product types. It is also the most effective form of printing for one or two colours. A lot of different kinds of inks can also be used using this form of printing. The process is cost effective on both low and high print runs and therefore it is a very successful method for creating mass and large volume prints.
Drawbacks of Screen Printing:
In terms of drawbacks, one of the main limitations of Screen Printing is that it is only suitable for solid colours only, and not tints. Due to the fact that each colour is printed individually, close registration of colours may not be achieved and therefore the number of colours that can be printed is limited. It should also be noted that the drying and curing time of Screen Printing can vary dependant on the number of colours printed which can delay lead times.
Print Process Description:
The basic yet compulsory equipment required to Screen Print consists of the screen itself and stencil, the squeegee and ink, the product or material that you are printing onto and the machine base that will hold the product in place throughout the process. The screen, which is usually made from porous, finely woven polyester is stretched over a frame of aluminium and wood. The stencil is then made by blocking off areas of the screen with a non-permeable material that has been cut leaving the open spaces with the image that is required to be printed. The ink will only permeate through the open spaces and onto the substrate (item).
Once the screen has been placed on top of the item, ink is applied and distributed across the screen using a squeegee and the ink is dispensed evenly through the open spaces. While this action can be carried out manually, large print companies operate with fully auto print machines. A new screen and stencils will be required for each colour within the image and the product must be left to dry between each colour application. It should also be noted that items may require printing in multiple positions which will demand additional print runs.
The final stage in the process of Screen Printing is known as the drying or curing process. The printed product is placed on a conveyor belt and passed through a heater which allows the inks to dry and set.
Below is an example of a T-Shirt we have printed for a client and shows what can be achieved with Screen Printing, which is very effective solution to branding garments.
Original Artwork Supplied Final Screen Printed Garnment