There comes a moment in all of our lives when we go out searching for custom designs. Retail stores can do little to create clothing that makes each of us feel unique. Of course, when entering the custom printing game, one must be aware of the many techniques available in today’s market. By far the most popular one today, and for good reason, has been screen printing. Understanding the different types of screen printing methods will help reiterate why that is the case.
Screen printing is a fairly simple and sophisticated technique that has gained traction over the years. A framework ensures that a unique stencil, following a woven mesh, lays over a fabric. Through the layering of ink and colors, a design begins to take form. To clarify some confusion from the get-go, there is also no difference between silk screening and screen printing. The former is an older method of the same process we see today.
Mesh counts are everything when it comes to screen printing. The different types of screen printing mesh heavily depend on their vertical and horizontal overlaps, i.e. the mesh count. The higher the mesh count, the crisper the fabric. For more detailed artwork, investing in a higher mesh count is ideal for a cleaner, more defined print. After all, aren’t details everything?
Ink on fabric is like paint on a canvas. This is why screen printing ink types play a huge role in the application, durability, and finish of a product. The best screen printing inks for t shirts, bags, or banners are as follows:
Good screen printing involves a stencil, but to do it justice you must consider screen printing emulsions too. The emulsion is essentially the process in screen printing which uses photosensitivity to coat a screen. Where ink may use heat to dry, emulsion uses UV light to do much of the same. The three different types of screen printing emulsions to consider are:
This screen printing emulsion requires manual mixing and takes some time to cure. Their thick consistency results in excessive curing time and lower graphical detail. Perhaps not ideal for quick and detailed prints.
With no mixing required, this emulsion is quick-drying and its thinner consistency is great for detailed prints. Multiple coats are also an option if needed. However, it is the costliest option available.
This type is a combination of the previous two. They are slightly thicker than diazo and take a little more time drying than SQB-based. This is perhaps a great choice since it tends to be more affordable.
Screen printing is popularly used on fabric but can also be used on wood, metal, plastic, as well as glass.
We know you might still be wondering what the best t-shirt printing method is. Our go-to method depends on the customer’s needs. Here is a comparison between different methods.
|Directly printed on fabric||Broken down into layers|
|Smoother finish||Visible pores and tactile finish|
|Only works best on cotton, other fabrics are faded||Works well on any type of fabric, produces similar results|
|Pricey for large orders||Cost-effective in bulk orders|
|Expensive investment and upkeep of printers||Affordable equipment|
|The machine used to cut pieces and apply heat in order to transfer||Use of stencil, mesh, and ink layering to transfer graphic.|
|Ideal for limited orders||Ideal for bulk orders|
|Will fade over time.||Less likely to fade.|
|Fewer details can be ensured||More details can be seen|
|Less setup time||More setup time|