Artwork

The first and possibly most important step in the screen printing process is creating the proper artwork. The final print is only a reflection of the quality of the artwork. To get started the customer gives us a copy of the desired image to be printed. We then create a vectored format of the image. Next we produce a virtual preview of what the image will look like once it is printed. After approval from the customer we then color separate the image and print each color onto a film positive. Each color of the image will require its own screen. The artwork is now ready for the screen printing process.

The Screening Process

We must first select the correct screens for the job depending on the colors used. The screens are then taken to the dark room where they are coated with emulsion. After the emulsion has dried the screens are combined with the artwork and set into the exposing unit. The unit holds the artwork to the screen with a vacuum and emits a 3000 watt halogen light which burns the image into the screen. After being burned in, each screen is taken to the washing station where they are sprayed with a high pressure washer that knocks out the emulsion where the image was. After the screens have dried they are sent to the taping station. The borders of the screens are taped and any registration marks used to align the artwork are blocked out so as not show up on the print. The screens are now ready for the press.

The Press

The screens are taken to the printing press and inserted into the corresponding head setting depending on the order of the colors to be printed. The screens are then aligned so that the resulting image exactly matches the original artwork. The required ink colors are then chosen and spread across the top of the matching screens. Next, a T-shirt is centered on one of the printing platens. The platen and t shirt go under each screen and receives the color of ink chosen for that screen. This is done by a squeegee pressing on the top of the screen and pushing the ink through the image down onto the shirt underneath it. After each color has been printed on the t shirt it is taken off the platen and placed on a conveyor belt that travels through a drier set at 350 degrees. This process not only dries the ink but also burns the image into the t-shirt ensuring that the image remains for the lifetime of the shirt. After final inspection the shirts are then stacked, folded, boxed and ready for delivery.

What do people mean by a CMYK print and a spot color print?

A spot color print refers to a print that uses the exact colors desired for the image. For example, a company’s logo may be simple text combined with a simple shape, each of which has their own color. Now for this print we only need two different screens with two different colors. However a CMYK print refers to prints that may seem like they have more colors than they really do. For example, printing a picture of a person on a shirt requires a CMYK print. Using the CMYK colors (cayenne, magenta, black, and yellow) each screen only lets a certain amount of ink through the screen so that when it combines with the other three screens all colors are possible with only four screens. This results in the appearance of having many more colors than are actually used.


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The Screen Printing Process

Just below is a simple tutorial on how the screen printing process works from the design concept to a finished screen printed t-shirt. You can trust that quality was the main focus from start to finish.

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