What Happens During Screen Printing - 5 Steps That Take Place
Screen printing is the popular process of pressing ink onto a stenciled mesh screen to produce a printed design. It is also known as silkscreen printing or serigraphy and is used in all types of custom products, such as clothing, canvases, posters, wood, glass, and more. This process is =more than a hundred years old, and it is still highly used today.
If you are curious about how screen printing goes, here is a step-by-step walkthrough of what happens when you ask us to print a customized screen printed shirt.
Step 1: You submit a design, and we study it
A custom design t-shirt means that you have a design in mind to produce on shirts. You can send your artwork or describe how you want it to turn out. The in-house team will ensure that your design is of high quality and meets all your expectations. They will then also calculate what colors and types of ink are needed and how much it would cost. Once all details are in, they will send them to the client for approval.
Step 2: The design pattern creation
Next, the printer will print the final approved design onto an emulsion-coated screen. Here is where the burning process begins.
In a dark room, they start by coating the screen with a photo-sensitive emulsion. After it dries, the printer will place the transparent paper with the design onto the screen and lay the whole thing under direct light. This process's final product is the stencil that will only let ink pass through the cut-out design.
Step 3: The burning of the design
Now, it is time for the actual printing process. The machine will start burning your design onto it with the stencil placed on top of the t-shirt. The more colors your design has, the more stencils they will use, one for each color. In this step, the printer should place the stencils in the same location throughout. It is to guarantee that the inks will be in their correct placement each time.
After finishing the printing, quality inspection will occur. The press operator will check whether there are errors in the ink printing or the screen itself. If everything is good, they will start to produce more of your shirt design, as needed.
Step 4: The curing process
After the printing process, all the shirts will be loaded onto a drier. This is where the curing of the design takes place. This process will ensure that the ink is thoroughly dry and creates a smooth and colorfast finish. When the cured shirts reach the catcher or the end of the drying stage, they will be placed right next to a hi-res mockup of your design for comparison. If cleared and approved, they proceed to the final step.
Step 5: Boxing and sending
If you opted for add-on services, such as custom tag printing or hem tags, these would be processed after the curing process. If there are no add-on services needed, the shirts will go directly to packaging and shipping.
Most screen printing services are automated these days. However, even modern screen printing still requires skill, close attention, and the materials and equipment to ensure good results. This versatile and cost-efficient process produces high-quality and durable designs, making it still one of the most popular printing methods today.