We are working to fill this area of our site with screen printing information and articles that help inform and educate our customers and web surfers. Here you will find articles as well as tutorials and tech tips on graphic design as it relates to screen printing, different ink and treatment choices to accomplish your screen printing needs. Questions such the differences between water-based, plastisol, discharge, metallic, foil will be adressed. We want to be your one-stop source for all your high quality screen printing products.
How does screen printing work?
Screen printing is accomplished by pushing ink through a fine screen stencil onto your garment (t-shirt) or whatever substrate you are printing on. The ink is then put through a conveyor belt oven and heated up (in most cases) to a set temperature until it is cured (wash-fast.) Before the printing can start, the screen (stencil) with your image has to be created. This is why screen printers charge set-up/screen fees and why there are usually minimum quantities required for a screen printing job. Each color in the design is printed separately and requires it’s own screen to be made.
A screen making fee is charge on a per screen basis. So if a 1 color (1 screen) print job costs $35 to set-up (our price) , a 2 color job will cost $70 and so on. Once the screens are made, they can be re-used pretty much indefinitely ( except when using certain inks such as discharge and some water-based inks that can eat through the screen.) This is why we only charge the screen fee on the first order of a particular print job, and only charge $10 per screen on re-orders, as we no longer have to make the screen but still have to set the job up , which takes time and labor.The diagram below illustrates a typical t-shirt graphic as it is color separated and the printed 1 color at a time:
To better illustrate the process, here is a good video introduction to screen printing teeshirts.
4 color image
So if a customer gives a screen printer a multi color graphic that he/she desires to have printed , the screen printer has to separate the image into individual colors (as it is time consuming, some screen printing shops charge for this process as [we don’t]) burn each color to be printed on a separate screen and then set up the screens on the press and print a proof to make sure that the screen are indeed lined up correctly and ready to print.
When on a tight budget and/or doing smaller quantities ,we recommend considering printing fewer colors . Perhaps one or two, might be the way to go, although we can print up to 6 color image. Below are a couple fo examples of 1 color and 2 color screen printed shirts that we did recently.