May 7, 2022
How screen printing works?

Create printed designs by pressing ink through stenciled mesh screens. Because screen printing occurs in many industries, even if you will never hear of it, you may have worn or used a product with a screen-printed design before. There are many names for the same basic process, such as serigraphy and silk screen printing.

You can print canvas, posters, and artwork through screen printing, but the method fits right for printing on textiles. Hence it finds the application in the customized clothing and other products. Here we will learn everything we need to know about silk screen printing.

  • What is silkscreen printing?
  • How does it work?
  • The steps involved
  • How does it work? The steps involved
  • Does screen printing washout?
  • How is screen printing different from digital printing?
  • Is screen printing better than heat transfer printing?
  • When was screen printing invented?

Screen Printing’s History.

Screen printing is an ancient art. China pioneered the technique as a method of printing fabric patterns around AD 950. Many centuries later, the design was transferred to paper and fabric by Japanese artisans, who dragged ink through a woven mesh of human hair with a stiff brush.

Due to the high cost of silk mesh in those days, screen printing as a fabric printing method was slow to catch on in Europe in the 18th century. As silk became more affordable because of the Silk Road, screen printing gradually became a popular and profitable way to print fabric. By the early 20th century, photo-sensitized emulsions had emerged, allowing artisans to create more complex stencil designs.

Artistic screen printing started in the 1930s when artists experimented with it. To distinguish it from industrial printing, they called it serigraphy. By the 1960s, artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Andy Warhol had begun to use screen printing. The artist created multiple prints of a single image, essentially questioning the notion of what constitutes fine art. One of Warhol’s most famous screen printings is the Marilyn Diptych.

Today, screen printing fits best to the artistically and commercial purposes. This technique can help produce large custom clothing orders and is one of the best ways to fulfill them.

How Does It Differ From Heat Transfer Printing?

Screen printing is a transfer process in which stenciled designs are transferred to a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. Fabric and paper are the most commonly screen-printed surfaces, though you can also print on wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. Creating a stencil is similar to creating a crosshatched pattern on a fine mesh screen, then inking (or painting, if the stencil is to apply to artwork and posters) through the screen to imprint your design on its surface.

Employ different stenciling techniques to create silkscreens, and the way the stencil looks can vary based on the material used. Silkscreens prepared in many ways, even though the actual printing method is usually the same.

  • Cover the desired areas of the screen with masking tape or vinyl.
  • Glue or lacquer is applied to block the stencil from the mesh.
  • You can use light-sensitive emulsions to make stencils, and then you can develop them like photos.

Screen printing designs may use only one shade of pink or many shades. Apply all colors separately, using different stencils for each ink for multicolor items.

How Is Screen Printing Accomplished?

As screen printing produces vibrant colors, even on darker fabrics, it is so popular. Similarly, the ink or paint is also layered over the cloth or paper, giving the print an appealingly tactile quality. The second advantage of this technique is that it allows for the reproduction of designs multiple times. The exact layout can be applied many times, making it ideal for creating multiple copies of one item. Therefore, screen printing is an effective method for create large quantities of uniforms for sports teams.

It is also possible to create colorful designs when professional printers use professional equipment. Although the printer is limited in the number of colors it can produce due to the complexity of the process, with offset printer can achieve a more vivid image than is possible with digital printing alone.

How Screen Printing Works?

The basic principle behind all screen printing methods is the same. Apply specific light-reactive emulsion to create a stencil in the printing process we’ll talk about next; It is the most common form of commercial printing since stencils can be intricately crafted. You’ll find a step-by-step explanation of the screen printing process here. 

Step 1: Creating The Design.

Printing starts with the printer taking the design they want to create for the finished product and printing it onto acetate film. It is this film that we use to create a stencil.

Step 2: Setting Up The Screen.

After that, the printer will select the mesh screen suited to the complexity and texture of the design. A light-reactive emulsion will then adhere to the mesh screen, and it will harden when exposed to bright sunlight.

Step 3: Shining Light Reacts With The Emulsion.

Emulsion-coated screens contain acetate sheets containing the design, then exposed to very bright light. As a result of light exposure, the liquid remains in the areas covered in the design.

You must apply the ink layers to a separate screen if the design includes more than one color. To produce seamless multiple-color products, you need a printer capable of designing each stencil and aligning them perfectly.

Step 4: Remove The Emulsion To Make A Stencil.

In a set amount of time, the exposed areas of the screen will become hard. By carefully rinsing away any unhardened emulsion, you can use the film. The ink passes through a clear imprint of the design on the surface.

A drying stage followed by any necessary touch-ups or corrections required to make the imprint as accurate as possible to the original design. Using the stencil is now possible.

Step 5: Prepare The Item For Printing.

Once the screen is in place, the printing press goes into action. The flat surface underneath the screen gets exposed. Several print presses are available, including manual and automatic models, but they are most commonly used for commercial printing since they allow multiple screens to operate simultaneously. With this type of printer, it is also possible to apply individual color layers in quick succession for multicolored prints.

Step 6: Screen Printing.

Ink is pressed onto the item after the screen falls to the printing board. On top of the screen, apply ink and pulled to the top using a squeegee. As a result, the ink passes through the stencil, imprinting the design on the product.

A new garment placed over the printing board if the printer prints multiple items. Repeat as necessary. It is possible to create stencils that print, and the emulsion is then washed off the mesh and used in the next stencil.

Step 7: Drying, Checking, And Finishing The Product.

Afterward, the dryer ‘ cures’ the ink and renders the printed product smooth and colorfast. Before you hand over to its new owner, the final product under goes thorough cleaning and checked for any residue.

Information On Screen Printing Equipment.

Screen printers need the right tools to produce clean, sharp prints. While we examine the various pieces of these screen printing equipment items, we’ll also see what they do during the printing process.

Screen Printing Example.

Even though it is possible to use mesh screens with a squeegee to screenprint, most printers prefer using a press so they can print large quantities at once. Due to the machine, it is easy to change the paper or fabric between prints because the screen remains fixed.

Manual presses, semi-automatic presses, and automatic presses all exist. Using manual presses is quite labor-intensive since they require manual operation. Semi-automatic presses rely on some mechanical components, and human intervention. As it needs to change out the items when pressed that is opposed to automatic presses, which are fully automated and require no user input.

Large businesses typically use semi- or fully automatic printing presses to achieve faster, more accurate printing. If you have a small business or are a screen printer as a hobby, you may do better with a manual tabletop press (also known as a ‘hand bench’ press).

Screen Printing Ink

Push the Ink, pigment, or paint through the mesh screen, leaving an imprint of the stencil design on the product.

Picking an ink is more than just picking a color. Various inks can help to customize the finished product. Glitter inks, texturized inks, or puff inks (which expand to create a raised effect) mainly used to create a unique look and feel for printed materials. Apart from the type of fabric that will be screen printed, it should also consider what kind of ink it will use since different inks may work better on various materials.

Once heat-treated and set, the printers will use a type of ink that is machine washable. A colorfast, durable, and machine-washable item has these characteristics.

Screen Printing On Silk.

Mesh fabric drapes over a wooden or metal frame during silk screen printing. Historically, this mesh consisted of silk threads, but polyester fabrics have replaced them, which offer the same performance at a lower cost. Due to smaller gaps between strands, mesh thickness and thread count can vary following the surface or fabric texture to produce more detailed prints.

It is possible to create a stencil by exposing it to the emulsion and coating it with emulsion. Clean the screen and reuse after the screen printing process has ended.

The Process Involves Squeegeeing.

A squeegee has a handle made of wood, metal, or plastic, and the blade is rubber. The inkflows transferred to the surface to print. Squeegees that match the screen frame size will provide better coverage, and printers usually recommend them.

Firmer rubber blades are better for intricate designs since they ensure ink runs smoothly throughout the stencil. You may need a softer, more yielding rubber squeegee if you print intricate designs or on fabric.

Take A Look At The Washing Station.

Reusing screens requires thorough cleaning to remove all traces of emulsion after each use. Large printworks may use huge tubs of cleaning fluid to remove emulsion, while printers may use a power hose and a water trough.

When Screen Printing Ink Dries, What Happens To It?

A properly screen-printed garment should not wash out unless done by a trained professional using heat-treated washable ink. If the printer wants a colorfast finish, it needs to set the ink following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Ink and fabric have different drying times and temperatures, so if the printer wants to create a long-lasting item that will last, they need to follow the instructions carefully.

How Are Screen Printing And Digital Printing Different?

In direct to garment (DTG) digital printing, transfers image directly to the fabric using a fabric printer, similar to an inkjet computer printer. In contrast to screen printing, the design transferred directly to the textile using a digital printer. The lack of a stencil makes it possible to print multiple colors simultaneously rather than in layers, so this technique allows you to print intricate or brightly colored designs.

In contrast to screen printing, digital printing requires much less setup, making it a more cost-effective method for producing small quantities or single garments. Because it creates computer-generated images rather than stencils, it’s great for photographing or creating highly detailed designs. Due to the CMYK printing method, rather than solid blocks of color, the color intensity isn’t quite as intense as screen printing. The same is true for texturized effects on digital printers.

What Is The Difference Between Silk Screen Printing And Heat Transfer Printing?

Printing that uses heat to bind a design to fabric often referred as heat transfer printing. Transfer or sublimation paper made out a material coated with a heat-reactive adhesive and printed. A heat press adheres the transfer paper to the fabric, so it adheres to the fabric underneath, resulting in a printed textile.

It’s easy and affordable to use heat transfer printing for smaller batches of personalization. In addition to transferring photographic designs, screen printing cannot do such a thing. In addition to being able to print on items such as bags, hats, and footwear that are hard to screen print due to their shape, digital transfer printing is becoming more popular.

The heat transfer process combine with digital techniques, gives you the best of both worlds. Computer programs enable you to create digital heat transfer designs, then print them onto white transfer paper. Us a plotter, a digital outline to cut out the image. Apply head to transfer that creates a bond with the fabric and bind it to the garment or accessory.

If heat transfer printing has a downside, it’s that quality varies wildly depending on the materials used, and some printers have given it a bad reputation due to the use of low-quality materials. Nonetheless, if you use quality transfer material and apply the design carefully, the result will be a high-quality, long-lasting piece. In our digital printing process, we use soft-feel, premium transfer materials, and we apply them using state-of-the-art printers and plotters, so we are confident in our ability to offer top-of-the-line digital printing services.

Closing Thoughts

 We at Oddinfotech only hire professional printers, so you can rest assured provide the best service. It is possible to customize many types of clothing with top-of-the-range equipment, such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies, so check out what you can personalize. Check out our helpful guides to find the right promotional products for your business, sports team, or band.



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