Silk Screen Printing: What is it and How-To

Posted by Jeffrey Gononsky on

silk screen printing how-to by Holden's Screen Supply Corp

In recent years, screen printing has seen a tremendous rise. The printing process involved in screen printing is easy and fun to experiment with. 

Screen printing, often called serigraphy or silk screen printing, is basically a process of printing on a stenciled mesh screen to create a unique design. The plastisol ink spreads on the surface evenly to generate a graphic image. 

You can employ the printing techniques of screen printing in distinct industries and to create a wide variety of masterpieces. It can be employed in creating bold canvases, posters, and artwork. It can also be used for tshirt printing to bring unique features on the fabric as well as customize clothing. 

That being said, let us dig deep and know more details about silk screen printing and how it is done. 

Silk Screen Printing - Overview

Screen printing is a type of printing process that involves transferring a stenciled design onto a flat surface with the help of a mesh screen, printing ink, stencil, and a squeege

Screen printing can be seen in great demand in the fabric or garment printing as well as paper printing. With the help of a suitable screen printing kit by Holden's and different types of printing inks, you can only print onto wood, metal, plastic, as well as glass. The method of printing remains the same for every surface. It involves creating a stencil on a fine mesh screen, pushing ink through the mesh screen to create an imprint of your design on the choice of your surface. 

As said, the screen printing process is also called silk screen printing and involves the use of different stencils to create distinct effects on the surface. For instance, you can use masking tape or vinyl to cover desired areas of your screen or you can paint your stencil on the mesh with the help of glue or you can also make use of light-sensitive emulsion to create a stencil similar to a photograph. You can also use different varieties of inks to create shades and give a distinct appeal to your surface. 

Why is Screen Printing Used?

Using the screen printing is a great idea, as it produces vivid and bright colors on darker fabrics. The fabric screen printing inks adhere to the surface of fabric or paper to provide a tactile quality. 

In addition, the process is easy and allows the printer to reproductive a design multiple times on the surface. The same stencil can be used multiple times which allows the user to replicate or create multiple copies of the garment easily. Thus, it allows the user to produce large batches of custom tshirts and other clothing with the help of a single stencil. 

The overall effect of the process also depends on the printing techniques and availability of screen printing machine, commercial screen printing kit, and screen printers. However, with the aid of the right equipment, you can also create multicolored designs with intricate details. 

How Screen Printing is Done?

The methods of screen printing are different. However, they involve the same basic technique that can be utilized in creating varied designs.

Here is a step by step guide to help you through the commercial screen printing process, 

STEP 1: DESIGN IS CREATED

Of course, you need a design to begin with. So, for starters, the user takes up the design he wants to create a finished product. The design is analyzed by checking different color palettes and printed out on a transparent acetate film. This design shall further be used to create a stencil.

STEP 2: THE SCREEN IS PREPARED

In the next step, the printing screen is decided. The choice of the screen depends on a lot of factors including the complexity of the design, the texture of the fabric and so on. The user then analyzes different screens and mesh count and chooses a mesh screen for its purpose. 

In the second step, the mesh screen is coated with a layer of light reactive emulsion which will harden when developed under bright light. It might seem like a demanding and time consuming process, but is important to get the best quality printed original tshirt

STEP 3: THE EMULSION IS EXPOSED

In the next step, the acetate sheer prepared is laid onto the emulsion coated screen and the entire setup is exposed to bright light. The exposure of light hardens the emulsion. However, the parts of the screen covered by the design are left in the liquid state.

If the final product involves the use of multiple colors, a separate screen is prepared to apply different layers of ink. To create a multicolor design onto the fabric, the stencil is designed carefully to line up each color seamlessly on the final design.

STEP 4: THE EMULSION IS WASHED OFF, CREATING A STENCIL

After the exposure of the screen for a definite period of time, the areas of the screen not covered by the design turn hard. Any unhardened emulsion is rinsed away to leave a clear imprint behind on the screen.

The prepared screen is left to dry. While the screen dries, the user takes up corrections or necessary touch-ups to create an impeccable imprint close to the original design. After necessary corrections, the stencil is ready to be used.

STEP 5: THE ITEM IS PREPARED FOR PRINT

The prepared screen is placed accurately on the printing press. The fabric or paper being printed is laid down onto the printing board underneath the screen. 

Now, here the choice of printer plays a critical role in designing the outcome. You can either use a manual printer or an automatic one. However, the favored printer is an automatic rotary carousel printer that allows multiple screens to work at a single point. This printer can be utilized in multicolor printing to render the process easier.

STEP 6: THE INK IS PRESSED THROUGH THE SCREEN ONTO THE SURFACE

The screen is finally lowered down on the printing board or surface. The printing ink is added from the top end of the screen and a squeege is used to pull the ink along the entire screen surface. This further press the ink through the open areas of stencil imprinting the design on the surface. 

Once all the bespoke tshirts and other printed image items have been printed, the emulsion is removed with the help of washing fluid. 

STEP 7: THE PRODUCT IS DRIED

The screen printed product is dried by passing through a dryer to create a smooth finish. You see, with right printing supplies and knowledge, printing on fabric is this easy!

We hope this screen printing overview was a useful read and will help you start printing with relative ease. For more such DTG printing and printing industry updates, stay tuned with Holden’s Screen Supply Corp. We are one of the leading manufacturers of printing supplies and help printing companies create bright and impressive direct to garment printing results. Visit us here to shop or know more!