Screen Printing is a process transference of ink through a mesh screen screen to a flat surface. It is one of the oldest methods of decoration and many printers are very experienced at achieving dramatic results. This is a technique used to brand on promotional items such as t shirts and bottles. You may have done screen printing in primary or high school without realising. It is a simple process where a stencil of your design is created. This stencil is appled on to a fine mesh (it can be made from silk or other material). Ink is then applied and literally sifted or forced through the mesh and onto the product to create the screen printing image. This simple process has been used for hundreds of years and despite the advancement in machinery and technology the screen printing method is fundamentally the same.
Screen Print Process
Maximum of colours can be used for this print method is 8-12 colours depending on machines available. Half tone can be achieved, please consult your printer first. Often when quoting white bases are needed to be added - eg on a black garment. A screen must be made for each colour. Film is attached to a screen and then the screen is coated in emulsion and exposed to light. It generally takes approx half an hour to prepare and can last for thousands of prints. Repeat setups are generally charged as the time taken to set the machine up. Artwork required in Vector file. See artwork guide. Majority of products are baked or "tunnel" dried and therefore can be provided quickly. Some products need to wait for a period to check that there is no reaction with ink to the substrate.
The advantage of screen printing are:
- Cost! If you are printing on typically 50 or more garments the price to screen print per item reduces dramatically compared to other branding methods such as digital print
- Speed! It is very quick to screen print promotional items compared to other branding techniques
- Screen printing puts a thicker coating of ink on to the surface and can cover large surfaces. For large logo prints then this is the perfect technique.
- The ink used in screen printing are more durable than other print methods. You can expect to wash and re-wash screen printed t shirts with less fading.
- Flexibility - Screen printing can be used to brand on most fabric based products as well as many hard surfaced plastic or metal surfaces
- Very small logos and artwork cannot be reproduced due often to the surface and expansion of inks (called "bleeding")
There are some disadvantages of this method of printing though such as:
- Colour! - Only spot colour prints are a possibility. Full colour prints are not possible using screen printing
- Multiple colours require multiple screens which can add up in both time and cost
- Cost for small runs. If you only require several garments the set-up cost in creating a screen for print is comparitively more expensive.
- Cannot print curved surfaces, heavily grained surfaces, multiple layers or linings may have an effect.
Common Promotional Items which Utilize Screen Printing
Garments / Cotton bags / Promotional bags / Branded Tee shirts / Printed Caps / Custom USB Drives / Compendiums / Corporate Shirts / Customised Hoodies / Beach Towels / Personalised Tea Towels / Brandable Umbrellas / Printable Beach Umbrellas / Logo Scarves / Event Bandanas / Calico Bags / Non Woven Bags / Flags / Branded Compendiums and more...
History Of Screen Printing
Screen printing is sometimes referred to as silk screen printing as early methods used the silk fabric as a mesh screen. The method originated in China during the Song Dynasty (approx 960AD). Eventually with trade it found its way to Europe and the rest of the world. Currently screen printing is a fun hobby for many enthusiasts as well as DIY home projects as well as students.
Some Examples of Screen Printed Products