Screen Printing, also known as silk screening, is the process of pushing ink through a mesh screen to print custom artwork or logos on to apparel.
Below, we will take you through the steps when creating your custom screen printed apparel.
Your artwork or design concept is sent to our in-house artist, where it will be prepared for screen printing and create a proof. This proof is not an actual sample, but a computer generated image that shows the customer the finished product as accurately as possible. Once created, the proof is sent to you, generally via email, for approval. During this process you can make changes to your artwork. Want to change the color of the print or the font used, no problem. Your art will not be printed until you are completely satisfied with the final design and we receive the final approval.
Once your artwork has been finalized and approved for printing, the artist creates printouts on vellum that are used to make the screens. If your design has more than one color, the artist will separate the design and print a vellum sheet for each color, so a separate screen can be created for each. (this is why setup fees usually apply)
Your artwork is then registered and checked for quality and then it's ready to go on a screen.
The type of screen we use is dependant on the type of art being printed. There are different sizes of mesh used in screen printing. The appropriate mesh is determined by the detail in the artwork to be printed. When more fine detail is present in custom art a higher mesh count is required.
The screen must be coated with a photosensitive emulsion and placed in a drying cabinet. Once the emulsion has dried, the color separated vellum printouts are taped to screens. Each screen is then placed on to the exposure table where ultraviolet light will expose the emulsion that is not being blocked by the art on the vellum. The screens are then transferred to the wash out tub, where they are sprayed with a power washer. The emulsion that was not exposed will wash out, creating your art on the screen. Each screen is then checked against the original art files for accuracy.
After the screen(s) is dry, it must be blocked, taped and set up before printing can begin. The border of the screen is taped off and any pinholes are filled so that ink does not escape through them. This process must be repeated on all screens.
The screen is then placed on to our printing press, aligned and fastened in place. To ensure multi-color designs will print correctly, each screen is placed on the press and aligned with the others. Alignment is achieved with registration marks.
After alignment is completed, the chosen ink color is spread into the screen. The screen printer then loads the garment on to the platen. A platen is designed to hold the garment in place during the printing process. The screen is positioned over the platen, or on our automatic press, the platen moves into position under the screen. Before ink can be applied to the garment the screen is flooded, or coated with a thin layer of ink.
The screen is then lowered (on automatic presse the platen raises to meet the screen) and a squeegee is pulled across, pushing the ink through to the garment below. Presses are designed so that the screen remains in alignment with the platen, so if the design is mulit-color the garment remains on the platen and the next screen is used to apply another color. This process is repeated for every color in the design. After all colors in the design have been applied, the garment is removed from the platen and placed on a belt that runs under a dryer. Once the garment passes through the dryer and the ink is cured it is inspected to ensure accuracy. If the garment needs another location printed, the process is repeated.