1.) It all starts with artwork. T-shirt artwork is specifically designed and set-up for screen printing. The traditional type of screen printing is called “spot process”.“Spot process” screen printing artwork has to be created in a specific program that creates vector formatted artwork(i.e. CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, etc.). Vector artwork has clean smooth edges with no pixel-ation. The next process is “simulated spot process”. “Simulated spot process” screen printing artwork can be in any popular image format (i.e. .jpg, .png, .bmp, etc.). Screen printing artwork for “simulated spot process” is made up of a lot of tiny multi-colored dots (halftones) that together create an image.Another screen printing process offered by White House Custom Screen Printing is “4-color process”. “4-color process” screen printing artwork is similar to “simulated spot process”, both are made up of tiny multi-colored dots, except “4-color process” uses only CMYK colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) and can only be printed on white shirts. This process is a lot more time consuming and intricate, therefore it is a more expensive process.Regardless of which process is used, all will need to have films printed of each individual color.(There are several other processes available in screen printing, these are the more popular types of t-shirt printing.)
2.) Once the artwork is created and the colors are decided upon, the next step is to separate each color within the artwork. This is called “color separation”, and this is where t-shirt art differs from traditional graphic design. Each color will be printed in black ink on a piece of transparent film. These films are the “color separations” and will be used to “burn” the images on to the screens.
3.) Now we choose which screens to use based on the level of detail in the artwork. There are a wide range of mesh countsthat can be used depending on the artwork detail. Once we have chosen the screen that will be used, it is then coated with emulsion and placed in our darkroom to dry and harden. Once it has dried, it is ready to be exposed or “burned”.
4.) The next step is to lay our artwork (readable side up) on the exposure unit, then lay our screen on top of the trans-parency. The exposure unit is like a covered light table that exposes the screen with a light source containing ultravioletlight. The UV light passes through the clear areas and hardens the emulsion. The areas blocked by the black ink on our transparency remain soft and will be thoroughly washed out.After a wash with the power washer, the screen will need to air dry before we can use it to print.
5.) Now we tape off the screen, and make sure it is set-up correctly and centered. For multiple color jobs we will have to register each color together, so they will line up correctly.White ink being printed on dark garments, needs to be flashed. Meaning that after we lay down the ink on the garment we will send it under a flash unit that heats up the ink so as to cure the surface of the ink, which will allow us to lay down the white ink again for a more solid looking white on black contrast. For any color to be its true color and to really “pop” off the shirt we have to put a white under-base down for each color. For example, say you want a red circle on a black t-shirt, that is actually a two color job. One color being the red and the other color being white for the under-base. Once the garment has be screen printed, we take it off the press and on to a conveyor belt that goes through a large dryer and cures the ink completely.
6.) After all the garments have been printed and dried, they are folded, boxed and are ready to be picked-up or shipped out.
SCREEN PRINTING 101: HOW IT ALL WORKS
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Here we will breakdown and explain how screen printing works. We’ll take you from designing to finished product. We are willing to educate our customers as much as they are willing to learn. Below there is a diagram and a written breakdown of how screen printing works.
If you have any questions please contact us.
There are a lot of screen printers out there (well, many of them actually outsource it, but pretend to screen print). So why choose Ink'n Screens for your printing needs?
We consider ourselves "old school" both because we print manually, however, we also run automated equiptment. But mostly because care about developing lasting relationships with our clients, a practice that has seemed to fall by the wayside in this "order online and hope for the best" world. We take care of our customers because the biggest compliment is a returning customer. We take the time to do things right. Whether that means sending you 9 proofs until we have it perfect or staying here until midnight to get the job done. We're in this business because it's fun. It's our passion. When we truly enjoy what we are doing, you reap the benefits.
A little shop info...
First and foremost - we do ALL of our own printing. Not ShirtSpace, not a contract printer - just us, in our own shop.
If for any reason we would need to out-source we will let you know or put you in direct contact with a vendor that might be better suited for your needs.
We use Plastisol, Nylon, Poly and Solvent based inks.
When cleaning screens, we use a soy-based product that turns the inks into a biodegradable liquid. We do our best to keep our environmental impact at a minimum.
We also have vinyl cutters and heat presses, so 1-off t-shirts won't empty your wallet. We can also do vinyl decals, stickers, etc. It's not just t-shirts and hoodies!
We're always in an experimental mood. Recently, we have been screen printing on umbrellas and kraft paper bags! Bring us your project and we'll find a way to get it done - if not, we can say we tried! Click on the graphic below to get started!