Screen printing, also known to some as silk screen printing, is a method by which designs are printed on to t-shirts and various other garments such as polo shirts, printed hoodies, vests and more. This method can be used to print 1 garment at a time from a single screen or if you have large industrial machines like we do, you can print tens of thousands of personalised clothing items each and every week.
From start to finish there are a number of different processes which go in to creating a printed garment.
Preparing the artwork
Long before you get the finished design applied to a t-shirt or other items in all its glory, you first must get the artwork in a position where it is capable of being applied to screens. The higher the quality of the artwork provided, the better and more detailed your end print is going to be so it’s incredibly important that you have the highest resolution image you possibly can. The quality of a design is measured in DPI (dots per inch.) For an image to be of a high enough quality to be clearly printed on to a garment, you should be looking at images that are in excess of 300 DPI. Ideally your design should be in the format on an AI file or PSD for the best results, but a high resolution PNG could just about be acceptable.
The image is then taken and broken down into individual layers based on the colours within the design. For example, if your design has 5 different colours, the design will be broken down into 5 different layers with each layer containing that specific coloured section. Each of these layers will go on to their own individual screen films.
Screen Exposure & Set Up
When each of the individually coloured screens have been set up, they are then placed in an exposure unit. This is basically a box which contains a number of lights. The screen print films are placed between these lights and an actual screen, which will have been covered in a screen emulsion. The light then passes through the film and hits the screen, washing away any of the emulsion it hits. This then leaves design on the film of the screen ready to be printed on to the garments. The screens will then be dried and then pressed securely on to the screen printing machine.
The coloured ink required for each section is then applied on top of each of the screens. The larger the quantity of garments printed, the more ink that will be applied. In some instances where the coloured ink within the screen may not show that well against the garment colour, a white ink base is first applied to the area to ensure the colour applied is as vibrant as it possibly can be.
The garments required for printing are then placed one at a time on the cylindrical carousel. Moving in a circular motion, they pass under each screen one after another and that design contained within the screen is then pressed on to the garment. This is repeated under all screens until the entire design has been applied to the garment. Once a garment has been printed it is passed through an industrial drier to dry the design and ensure the printed t-shirts or other garments have the highest standard of application.