Did you know: Customized printing is over a hundred years old and probably 80% of your printed wardrobe essentials are actually screen printed? Here’s a step by step guide to what screen printing is and what equipments you need to get started:
What is screen printing?
Screen printing is a technique used to transfer graphics onto a flat surface using mesh and ink. The process begins by creating a stencil on a mesh screen. The ink is then pushed through the screen one color at a time onto the surface. Finally, each printed piece goes through a large dryer to cure the inks.
Why is screen printing used?
It’s true, screen printing can produce vibrant colors that stand out even on darker fabrics that are difficult to replicate by other printing techniques. Further, this method of working allows for greater thickness of ink that sits on top of the fabric as opposed to soaking through. These features combined generate a high-quality look and feel in the finished product. I mean no wonder those screen printed t-shirts are a wardrobe staple! Another reason this technique is preferred is that the printer can duplicate a design numerous times. Since the same stencil can be utilized to re-create a design over and over, screen printing is convenient for large orders such as uniforms. And then of course, if there’s a need to create an intricate design, professional screen printing equipment, and an experienced printer, complex designs can have it done in no time.
Now, the question arises:
How screen printing is done step by step?
Although there are many different ways screen printing can be carried out, the overall procedure remains the same. All you need to do is have a screen printing kit ready!
1 – Creating the design
2 – Preparing the screen
3 – Exposing the emulsion
4- Creating the stencil
To create the stencil, the design is printed on a transparent acetate film. Next, after assessing the material and complexity of the design the correct mesh screen is chosen. It is then coated with a layer of light-reactive emulsion, which will then harden once exposed to bright light. The transparent acetate film which displays the design is then set onto the emulsion coated mesh screen. This is then placed under a bright light causing the light-reactive emulsion to develop and harden. After a set time any emulsion that has been hardened on an area which the design does not cover is carefully rinsed away. This leaves a clear imprint of the design on the screen. Next, the screen is dried and the printer will make necessary corrections by hand, to make sure the imprint is as precise as possible.
Having established how to silk screen printing is done, let’s get into the details of what screen printing supplies or screen printing equipment you need.
Guide to screen printing equipment
Based on your interest, purpose, and designs, screen printing supplies may vary. You may choose conveyor dryers, dip tanks, or even digitals systems. However, A basic screen printing kit nonetheless includes:
From a simple setup to a complex digital screen printing endeavor, there may be a number of things required. It may be an amateur software that you need or a premium pro version one. It all depends on what you want your final product to be like though. But that’s not it, there are some things others might not tell you about. For screen printing t-shirts, a popular art these days, you may want to have the following handy (thank us later!)
These will make your process easier as they aid in keeping your fabric in place.
So, what are you waiting for? Start today!