Hello again In Stitches family! It’s time to take a step behind the curtain once again and learn about … Screen Printing! We have the ins and outs to satisfy your curiosity!
So, your first question is more than likely, What is Screen Printing? Technically speaking, screen printing is the process of transferring a stenciled design onto a surface using a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. Got that? In layman’s terms, screen printing is how you get those amazing t-shirts that say funny things like, “Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come.” (Am I the only one that both finds that funny and feels like it’s really true? I am? Alright, back to the process.)
Screen printing works best on flat fabric without a lot of texture so we mostly do t-shirts and sweatshirts, though we do have a little bit of wiggle room with different ink formulas to get the best image and durability.
We can print images that have up to six colors in them. We’ve found that this is our sweet spot where amazing color meets best image quality!
Let’s take a look at the screen printing process step by step, shall we?
STEP ONE – Choosing the design to be printed
You either send us a design or image OR you can choose one from our library.
STEP TWO – Letting the computer do its thing
We have special software that will take the design and “rip” it into different color layers. You see, each color will need one screen meaning a three-color design will be “ripped” into three different pictures for the screens. These images are then printed on transparencies.
STEP THREE – Burning the Screen
We have a special chemical we put on the screens that reacts when exposed to light. We put the transparency on the outside of the screen and expose it to light using a special exposure unit.
STEP FOUR – Washing
We then wash the screens. Only the part that was black on the transparency washes away, leaving a negative of the picture. Then we let the screens dry.
STEP FIVE – Setting up the machine
After the screens have dried, we set up the machine. That means we put the screens in the proper order on the machine. We then get the right ink with the right screen. Ready for…
STEP SIX – Pressing the job
As you can see, Mike is pressing the job. He takes a t-shirt, puts it on the machine, lowers the screen, applies the ink, and uses a special squeegee to work the ink through the screen and onto the t-shirt. Then he rotates to the next screen and presses the next color. And so on and so on.
STEP SEVEN – Curing the ink
We have a special conveyor dryer that takes care of curing the ink for us. The ink needs to be cured at the correct temperature for it to last.
And there you have it! A behind the scenes look at HOW we screen print. Next week we’ll look at a few other exciting aspects of screen printing so definitely check back for that!
Did you miss our first in the Behind the Scenes series? Go here to learn all about embroidery!
See you next week!
Mike and Wendy
In Stitches Embroidery