What is screen printing?
Screen printing, sometimes called silk screening, is the process in which a piece of artwork is etched onto a screen and ink is then pushed through the screen with a squeegee onto the garment. That is the short version, but in reality there is much more that takes place behind the scene.
To begin, the artwork is separated into colors and each color is printed in black ink onto a transparency sheet. Then a screen made up of a aluminum or wood frame with stretched silk mesh is coated with a liquid substance called emulsion. The emulsion is applied to both sides of the screen and set aside to dry in a dark room, since emulsion is light sensitive. Once dry, the transparency is applied to the back of the screen and then the screen is “shot”. Shooting the screen means applying a UV light to the bottom of the screen which exposes the emulsion and hardens it. In the meantime all areas that are covered with black ink (through the transparency) remain unexposed. Then the screen is washed and all the “unexposed” areas wash away leaving just the silk mesh in those areas. This process is repeated over and over for every color in the printing job. Then screens are then dried and brought over to the press to get ready for printing. Ink is then pushed through the screen with a squeegee onto the garment. After that a small run through the conveyor dryer and the garment is ready for wearing.
Who screen prints?
Screen printing clothing is actually a growing business in the United States since there is always a demand for printed t-shirts and other apparel. So with that said there are many t-shirt printing shops around the country, but screen printing is not just for the t-shirt printing business. Screen printing is used to print various items (with other types of inks) such as your pots and pans, posters, glass and much more.
T-shirt and other garment screen printing:
As I always say there is plenty of demand for custom printed apparel, therefor there are plenty of t-shirt screen printing business around the country. Think about it everywhere you turn, every business you walk into the staff is almost always in uniform and those need to be printed somehow. With screen printing that is easily achieved. Typically the business owner decides on a specific design, shirt color etc. and the screen printing company does the rest.
Screen printing on glass and other items:
Did you know that the print on underneath your pot is screen printed? Or the instructions on the cover of your Optimum remote is screen printed as well? Well yes these items are screen printed. People always tend to think that screen printing is only for clothing, but in reality and surface can be screen printed with the right inks and equipment. I have many items being screen printed and printed on many different presses. I have even seen presses that were rigged specifically for an item. For example, there was this one company that rigged their press to hold a tall cup and the pallet that held the cup was able to spin so as the squeegee pushes the ink the cup turns and the print is able to wrap around.
Screen printing as an art:
Another reason for screen printing, a bit less common, is using screen printing for art. There are artists that use screen printing to print large posters and wild graphics onto paper and card stock. Also there are many colleges and universities that offer a screen printing class. Learning screen printing in school is much different then using it out in the field. That is why when we receive resume’s where the only screen printing experience is in school we tend to not hire the candidate. The students learn screen printing in the art form, screen printing on t-shirts in a large production area is very fast paced and much more industrial then what is thaught in school.
Big Bang Screen Printing is a T-shirt printing company in New York. We specialize in screen printing on t-shirts and various other apparel types.