Screen Printing is one of the most popular techniques of applying your design to piece of personalised clothing. The quality of the process we use creates customised garments of excellent quality, with long lasting results for very reasonable costs.
The best type of design to use for screen printing is artwork that consists of spot colours. This means the design can be a line drawing and can have sections filled with a single colour, as opposed to a more complex image such as a photograph or a logo that has gradients of colour.
The method of screen printing utilises screens to apply the ink as an individual colour layer, so a seperate screen is required for each colour. Therefore the simpler the design you choose and the fewer colours there are, significantly affects the overall cost for this service. Also when you select a coloured garment for your logo to be printed onto, bear in mind that an additional base (or undercoat) layer will be required so that the colours will appear bright and vibrant – so this will also affect cost.
What is the process used for Screen Printing?…
1) The Preparation Stage: Once we have finalised the design you would like for your garments, we first must prepare the image so it is in a format ready for printing. Also the image must be separated into different colour layers because each layer will be applied one at a time, and one on top of the other, so this stage is crucial. We prepare the print-ready design by creating clear films of each colour layer which will be applied to the screens, and each layer is lined up with registration marks so that the finished image will be whole.
2) Screen Production: Now that the artwork for the design is ready and we have each colour layer on a separate film, we can build the screens and attach them to our special press machine, ready for printing. The frame for each colour screen consists of a light aluminium frame with a polyester mesh stretched over it. Next a stencil of your design is created for each layer using the clear films we created earlier. All the negative space from each layer must be filled in so that no colour is applied to that area, so we do this be using an emulsion which is painted onto each screen. The emulsion is light sensitive so we use a dark room just like a photographer would use, and then when this pre-press process is finished the screen has a clean area that will allow the colour through only where it is required for your design.
3) Mixing the Inks and Press Set-up: Once the screens have been prepared and they are ready to be used on the press, we carefully line up and tape the edges of the screen and frame so there is no danger of ink leaking onto the garment being printed. The screens are mounted onto the press and lined up so that each colour will be applied in the correct order – we always do test runs as well for quality control so that the finished product will be perfect. Once we are happy that everything is ready, it’s time to get those inks mixed and ready to start printing!
4) Printing the Garment: It is essential that the cloth of the garment is as flat as possible so each piece of clothing is stretched around a flat plate so it can be fixed securely below the press. A special adhesive spray is also applied before the layers are added just so that the ink will fix properly and the ink will not run. A big rubber squeegee is used to full the ink down and through the screen to push a flat, consistent layer of colour onto the garment in the correct registration areas that we perfected in all the previous set-up stages. The screens swivel round the press so that we can quickly apply each colour and build up the design and the process is repeated for as many items of clothing that you require.
So now you know how Screen Printing works here are a few tips on Design and Cost to consider…
Here are a few things to consider about screen printing that will help to save you time and money so we can deliver the customised clothing you would like.
- A design that consists of spot colours or a simple line design is best.
- The fewer colours you require the lower the cost will be because the set-up of fewer screens, and less ink will be needed.
- The fewer print locations on the garment there are, the lower the cost will be too. For instance if you just require a logo on the front or the back that would be cheaper than having both.
- The image you choose for your design must be high resolution and preferably be supplied as a vector image rather than a lower quality jpeg format.
- When using line drawing for your design, the best width for a line so that it registers well is around 4 milimetres in width.
- Please convert text in your logo into just an outline, in case we don’t have access to the particular font that you are using – this will make the set-up process easier.
- We are unable to print wrap-around design using screen prints because the screen cannot cover the seem of the garment, however if you choose a style of clothing that does not have a middle seam such as the Gildan Softstyle variety of t-shirts, then a wrap-around design may be possible. Please contact us for more clarification on this particular request.