Screen printing, is an excellent method used to print graphic on t-shirts. Back in the day, there was only 1 style of silk screening, but now there are multiple variations and many variations of the type of ink advancements to achieve your special shirt for bulk order printing.
As the inks used in screen printing are thicker and each color needs its own screen, it’s preferred to be used when there are only a few colors in the design. Plastisol inks which are used, will always stand out and pop the most vs other types of printing like DTG, mainly because it is a thicker ink and can be color matched with pantones. So as long as the inks have a good foundation your able to match up colors and lay down a beautiful solid color, unlike DTG which uses CMYK mixing and dots to generate the colors. Not to say DTG is bad but if only printing a few colors or need color matching Screen Printing is the primary option.
How Does Screen Printing Work?
So, let’s take a look at how screen printing works. A thin mesh is stretched over a frame, on the screen is burned a negative of the design that is destined for the t-shirt. With the screen in place, ink is carefully squeegeed over the screen, the ink seeping through only in the areas where the design has been printed. The ink will set on the t-shirt, than cured and put aside individually.
This really is a simplified explanation; it is actually a lit bit more difficult. When it comes to screen printing a t-shirt, you need to think about the inks, chemicals, and techniques you will use too. There is actually a lot involved in the process
Please Tell Me How It Really Works.
Okay you got,
So, once you are certain about how you want the finished product to look from a mock up, it’s time to get started. The screens have a mesh count from 60 all the way to 300, with 300 being much finer for a more detailed image when multiple colors and halftones are involved. Really though, it’s just a screen, with tiny holes in it that allow ink to seep through,
The screen is secured to a wooden or metal frame. We cover it with a layer of emulsion that will stop ink coming through it. You will now find that your result will be two-tone (the color of the screen and the color of the emulsion you used. The colors you find here won’t affect the final print for your t-shirts.
At this point, we will also be getting ready more stuff behind the scenes, ready for a print run. This setup process is a lot slower than the process for DTG printing; like right back in the beginning of screen printing, everything is still done by hand.
There are some standard colors and base colors we start with. If none of those are choses we than start mixing them and matching them up, until we have the perfect colors that you need for your t-shirt. The inks are safe and of high quality to help achieve your desired design and look. That’s really it, we can’t say exactly how we mix the colors to achieve what we want, sorry.
This is where your t-shirts come to life. The press spins around, thanks to lots and lots of metal parts, allowing lots of t-shirts to be printed without having to stop and start all the time. Each arm that extends out has a different part of the full design on it, after each screen has been printed, your total design has come to life.
The t-shirt is stretched over a board and tacked down so it doesn’t move. Everything has been previously lined up with registration marks, to make sure that all the colors line up perfectly. The screens stay in place, while shirts move on the carousel.
Now it’s time to lower the screens on top of the t-shirt. Ink is poured on to each screen at one end and a squeegee made of rubber is used to move the ink from one side to the other with a desired amount of pressure and angle. As the ink goes back and forth over the screen, the negative spaced allows the ink to push though onto the garment to reveal the pattern of your design.
Depending on the amount of colors you desire for your t-shirt, we may have to use some more magic with halftones and mixing colors. Your t-shirt will go through this process for each color needed to you’re your final design. The end result will of course be a beautifully printed t-shirt.
Your t-shirts are then cured using a conveyor dryer. It’s not like a conventional dryer, as the t-shirts lay flat on a belt so that they don’t touch each other since the ink is still wet. The inks must reach a certain temperature for both to achieve a good wash and ensure that the colors don’t bleed into each other. Once it reemerges from the other side it is checked before being boxed up.
Now you know more about screenprintg and whether this is the right method or DTG for you type of printing needs.
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