Screen printing is one of the oldest models of transferring designs onto fabric with ink. You would think so too if you considered that this technique has been in operation since some 2000 years ago when the Chinese used to do something similar.
The process was soon to be adopted by the Japanese who also saw the light in this form of creating designs. Many centuries down the line, the technique has been improved to become an almost indispensable one to the fabric design processes.
In this piece, we are going to deeply explore the topic of screen printing, bringing you all the information you have always wanted to know. At the end of the article, you will also be able to decide for yourself if this is the ideal printing method you’d like used for your fabric.
To start with…
What is Screen Printing?
Screen printing follows a basic operational model which can be understood by almost anybody, even without a deep knowledge of the printing business. It is the form of printing which allows transferring of just about any kind of design onto chosen surfaces, using ink as the transfer medium.
How does Screen Printing work?
To start with, a stencil is designed. This stencil carries the same type of design that is to be transferred onto the fabric surface. For proper alignment, the stencil is printed in such a way that it fits into the frame of a chosen screen.
Once that is done, the stencil is “burned” onto the screen with a fine mesh via UV light. Once prepared, the screen is placed face-down against the surface where such a design is intended to be transferred upon. The designer then applies ink to the mesh in a subtle, brush-like motion.
By so doing, the ink moves from the mesh onto the stencil surface. The open parts of the stencil will allow the ink to spread onto the fabric surface while the other parts will keep the ink from getting onto the material.
On removing the screen from the fabric surface, an exact replica of the stencil design would have been made.
As long as the stencil, mesh, and screen are clean, this process can be repeated countless times till all fabrics have been designed in a similar way.
Why Choose Screen Printing?
The fact that screen printing has been around for a long time is not enough reason to go for it. Fortunately, there are a lot of pros to this process. Some of these are:
- Better options: Orders handled with screen printing techniques have the added benefit of enjoying multiple ink thicknesses, color tones and variations that are not possible with other forms of printing. This is only bettered in the fact that you can opt to have metallic, neon, reflective or glow in the dark specialty inks used in the place of traditional inks.
- Effective for large orders: If you will be ordering quite a large volume of products, screen printing would be the best bet for you. Allowing designers more control over the production process, you can easily get larger quantities of your design at a relatively low cost.
- Improved creativity: The use of stencils in screen printing means your designer can get as creative as possible when coming up with the design template. You can easily suggest tweaks, make modifications, spice things up and so much more.
- More fabric choices: Other printing methods (such as direct to garment printing) are limited to working with cotton materials. When screen printing is at play, you get to explore other fabric types. Think polyester, silk, viscose… anything!
Limitations of Screen Printing
As it is with any other production process, screen printing has its own flaws to contend with. The biggest of these is in the time required to set up each and every job.
Going through the design of stencils to preparation of screen and choosing of the right kind of ink can be a tedious, time-consuming process. It would thus be financially impractical for anyone to run a single job or small orders through this process.
To that end, there would be the case of minimum orders that must be made if your designer is to undertake your project at all. Likewise, the price for individual orders goes way up since the designer would have to break even – one way or the other.
This is in contrast to direct to garment printing which requires just a digital file to be transferred to the garment of choice. That is not to mention the almost zero set up time in place for DTG printing.
Being one of the most go-to options in the printing industry, the place of screen printing cannot be underemphasized. However, knowing whether it is the right technique for you is key to making a successful order and loving what you get.
If you still can’t decide on what printing technique to use, hit us up and have all your doubts laid to rest.