Looking to do t-shirt printing on a large scale? Looking to attain superior quality results? Screen printing is the way to go.
According to legend, screen printing actually started in ancient China, where hair was used to make screens for the crude screen printing machine. The machine has since undergone numerous improvements to become the modern device we know today.
Using the device is, nonetheless, intimidating to many at first but it’s actually easier than you’d guess. You can familiarize yourself with it in minutes and start working on your customers’ orders immediately. With this guide, I will take you through the process.
The Basis of Screen Printing
The screen printing machine functions like a stencil. Instead of cutting images one by one, you just coat the screen in a picture emulsion and cut out the image with the help of a laser.
Here are the steps to follow to screen print:
1. Create an Image
The first step needs you to come up with an image, keeping in mind that the artwork is vital for the whole printing process. Coming up with a bad design will make the coating mediocre, the screens won’t be good, and consequently, the design on your t-shirt will not be good either. Therefore, be sure to create a good high-resolution image.
Most screen printing machines need at least 300 DPI. The higher the resolution, the better the results. The other reason as to why I’m insisting on a high-resolution image is because such an image is much easier to prepare for printing.
Separation is a pretty simple process concerned with the removal of individual colors from the design. If your image features different colors, say red, yellow and blue, each of the colors will be separated from one another and printed on a vellum or a film.
Most people prefer using a film, as delivers higher-quality results by enabling the production of better lines and dots.
3. Exposing the Image on The Screen
Once the screens are ready for burning, take them to the exposure unit. The exposure unit refers to a box with light inside. Place the film between the screen and the exposure glass.
This way, you will allow the light to shine through glass and film, and hit the screen. Keep in mind that if the light does not hit the screen, the emulsion will wash out.
I know you might be wondering what an emulsion is, right? This is just a photosensitive fluid that you apply to the screen before exposing it to the light.
I recommend using a squeegee to apply the fluid to ensure it covers most of the screen. Once the emulsion is dry, keep it in a dark room for an hour or two to prepare it for the separation process.
4. The Printing Process
Your screen is ready for printing. Now, set it on the press and apply ink to it. You might need to mix several inks to attain a certain color.
At this stage, everything is ready and you can proceed to printing your garments. If you have small runs, you can do them one after the other using the template. On the other hand, if you have medium or large runs, I suggest doing them on the auto-press, if your machine supports that.
Screen printing happens to be the oldest and most widely used method of printing t-shirts. The fact that this method has been used for such a long time (millennia) means it is highly dependable; it delivers nothing short of the highest quality.
By following the tactics described above and of course, doing a bit of practice, you will be an expert at screen printing before long.