Question:How does screen printing work?


Screen printing is accomplished by pushing ink through a fine mesh stencil onto a  surface such as a t-shirt in our case. The printed shirt is then put heated up (in most cases) to a high temperature until it is cured (wash-fast.)

Question: What is a screen set-up fee?

Before the printing can start, the screen (stencil) of 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 during prolonged use.) 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:

A 4 color image such as the one below will require 4 screens to be made, 1 for each color. 

4 color demo smirf

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 this process is time consuming, some screen printing shops charge for it [we don’t]) , burn each color on a separate screen and then set up the screens on the press and print a proof to make sure that all the screens are 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.

1 and 2 color

Question: Do I get to keep the screen after I paid for it to be made?

No, what the screen fee covers is the manufacturing of a screen with your image burned into it, and the storage of that screen for one year. If you re-order a print job using the same screen within one year of the initial making of the screen, you will not be charged another screen fee. However as set-up of the screen(s) on the press is a time consuming process, a set-up fee of $10 per screen is charged on reorders for multiple color jobs. After one year of no use the screen is reclaimed.

Question: Why does it cost more to print the same image on dark color garments then light.

If you looked at out price list you may have noticed that when printing on dark garments you will be charged more then printing the same image on a light garment. This is because screen printing on dark requires an under base of white ink to be printed first and then the main color gets over printed on top in order for the main color to be be bright and opaque. So a second screen has to be made. and a 1 color print becomes a 2 color print. Sometimes you can get away with just printing the main color twice (two coats) without an additional screen. This is still a as much labor and ink as a two color print but you do save money on not making a second screen

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