If you’re looking for a high-quality printing technique to create vibrant designs on apparel products, consider using the screen printing process. Read on to learn more about each step and the benefits of using a screen print press.
What Is the Screen Printing Process?
Screen printing refers to the process of transferring a stenciled design onto apparel using a mesh screen. The screen print press embeds ink deep in the fabric to create a vibrant imprint of your design.
Screen printing with screen mesh uses a variety of stenciling techniques, including:
- Using vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen
- Painting the stencil onto the mesh using screen blockers
- Using a light-sensitive emulsion to create a stencil, which is then developed onto the fabric (similar to old photographs)
- Using separate stencils for each ink layer when printing multicolored designs
The Benefits of Screen Printing
The screen printing process is widely used for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest advantages of using a screen printing printer is its ability to produce vivid colors, even on darker fabrics.
Screen printing also allows the printer to quickly reproduce designs on apparel items. Because the same stencil can be used multiple times, you can create several items quickly. This makes the screen printing process one of the most efficient techniques for creating large batches of apparel.
What’s Involved in the Screen Printing Process?
While there are a few different screen printing methods to choose from, they all use the same basic techniques. We’ll walk you through the screen printing process step-by-step, so you can better understand how proper screen printing works.
The first step in the screen printing process is to design the image you want to print. Once you have an outline, your printing company transfers the image to a transparent acetate film to create the stencil.
Prepare the Screen
Once the stencil is designed, you’ll choose a mesh screen that can handle the design’s complexity and the fabric’s texture. The mesh screen is then coated with a layer of emulsion, which develops under a bright light to create your image.
Next, the acetate sheet with your design is laid onto the emulsion-coated screen and exposed to bright light. This hardens the emulsion, allowing the parts of the screen covered by the design to remain in liquid form.
If your apparel includes multiple colors, a separate screen is used to apply each layer of ink. Each layer is stacked on top of the other to create a multicolored design.
Create the Stencil
After the screen is exposed for a set time, any areas not covered by the design will have turned hard. The emulsion is then carefully rinsed away, leaving a clear imprint of your image that the ink can pass through.
After the stencil is created, your garments are placed on the printing board, topped by the stencil. The screen is lowered down onto the printing board, and ink is pushed through the stencil to imprint the design on your apparel.
If you’re creating multiple items, the screen is raised, and a new garment is placed on the board to repeat the process.
Once all items have been printed, the emulsion is removed to clean the mesh, allowing it to be reused for future stencils.
To complete the screen printing process, the product is dried. This “cures” the ink and creates a smooth, colorfast finish. Your final product then undergoes quality checks to confirm there are no issues.
Your #1 Choice for Screen Printed Apparel
For over three decades, Marathon Sportswear has delivered high-quality printed garments to our customers. Whether you need custom spirit wear or shirts for a company event, we have the resources to make your vision a reality. Try out our design studio to see how your next product will look.