What is screen Printing on Shirts? Custom Screen Printing

What is screen Printing on Shirts? Custom Screen Printing

Like digital printing, flocking and embroidery, textile screen printing is a personalization technique. In fact, it is one of the most popular printing methods today and the oldest. We provide the screen printing service in Dallas. Lets Learn all the ins and outs of screen printing from this comprehensive article.

 Screen printing: definition and history

Textile screen printing has existed for millennia, it is the oldest form of printing. By fusing the Latin seri (silk) with the Greek graphein (to write or draw), the English term “screen printing” is formed.

According to historians, the Chinese were the first to have developed this technique during the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD). In the 15th century , Japanese artisans adopted the practice of transferring designs onto paper and silk fabric. Screen printing arrived in Europe in the 18th century , but it did not achieve success until the beginning of the 20th century , due to the high cost of silk mesh at the time. Once silk became available at more affordable prices, screen printing grew in popularity throughout Europe. Europeans first used it to print expensive wallpapers in linen, silk, and other fine fabrics, but as the market grew and techniques were refined, screen printing became a valuable industrial technology .

The 1960s marked a major turning point for screen printing, which was propelled to the forefront thanks to famous artists of the Pop Art movement, such as Andy Warhol, who used this technique to create repeated and colorful images . Among his most popular works are prints of Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup. At the end of the 70s, screen printing would be everywhere: on posters, clothing, vinyl covers, etc.

Today, screen printing is the printing technique par excellence. Ideal and economical for quality rendering on large print series.

How does screen printing work?

Screen printing is a direct printing technique. It allows the ink to be deposited directly on the textile through a screen (stencil). Originally the screens were made of silk, but today they are made of finely woven polyester or nylon. Its process requires the creation of a screen per color, possibly another for the undercoat. This results in a final screen print with great color density and color saturation.

The colors are printed one after the other. The star products of textile screen printing are personalized t-shirts, whether for promotional, corporate or retail use.


➜ What are the key steps?

Here we will introduce you to the screen printing process step by step. Discover below in the video how our personalized screen-printed clothing is created.

● Step 1: decomposition of colors and creation of films

First of all, you must separate the colors of the visual. Each color will be printed on a transparent film in order to be exposed on a screen printing screen. The inked part (black) will block the light while the transparent part will let it pass through.

● Step 2: exposure of the screens

Once the films are printed, they are placed on screen printing screens for exposure. These are aluminum frames on which a polyester canvas is stretched, which are previously coated with a photosensitive emulsion which will react to light. You need 1 screen for each color. The screens are then exposed to UV light, which will dry the part exposed to the light while the part hidden by the ink of the film will not react, then are rinsed with water. They will therefore let the ink pass in places where the UV has not acted. 

● Step 3: color preparation

We prepare the inks which we sometimes have to lengthen, or mix in order to obtain the consistency as well as the right color.


● Step 4: machine wedging

The frame is installed on the carousel, then wedged so that the pattern is well positioned on the support.


● Step 5: printing 

Ink is added and a squeegee is used to pull the ink down the length of the screen which penetrates the fabric of the textile through the open areas of the stencil. The garment is therefore imbued with each color, lively and perfectly deposited.


● Step 6: polymerization in the drying tunnel

Finally, the screen-printed textiles are passed through an infrared tunnel, which polymerizes the ink on the fabric.




The advantages and disadvantages of textile screen printing

If you are considering personalizing t-shirts, sweatshirts or bags using screen printing, it is important that you know the advantages and disadvantages of this technique.


The advantages

● Profitability for large quantities

As this method requires the manufacture of screens for each color, it is best reserved for large orders. The higher the number of garments ordered, the lower the unit cost will be.

● Diversity of support

It’s hard to find a printing method as versatile as screen printing. It can be carried out on almost all textiles, whether light or dark, in natural or synthetic fibers such as polyester. 

● Sustainability

Screen printed graphics are generally much more durable than graphics transferred by heat press for flocking for example, thanks to this technique consisting of depositing thick layers of ink which are absorbed by the fabric.

The disadvantages

● Preparation time

In screen printing, only one color can be applied at a time. Therefore, this technique requires a fairly significant preparation time due to the different frames to prepare depending on the number of colors. This method requires more preparation than other techniques before going into production, so it is less beneficial for small orders .

Special effect inks: the example of screen printing based on swelling and metallic ink 

In screen printing, it is possible to use effect inks. Ink with metallic, glitter, swelling, glow-in-the-dark, fluorescent, corrosive, crackle effect and much more.

At Dallas shirt Printing, we all particularly carry out swelling screen printing using metallic inks.

Swelling ink screen printing

This process involves the same process as classic screen printing, but it allows you to apply excellent 3D special effects to your visual. Swelling ink literally expands and swells when exposed to heat. Before being exposed to heat, the ink lays flat on the garment like any regular ink. Heating the finished drawing activates the blowing additive and allows the ink to rise and expand approximately one to two millimeters on all sides

This type of ink adds texture and density , giving the garment an almost three-dimensional appearance, like the screen-printed sweatshirt pictured above. 

If you want originality, then swelling ink will create a new dimension to your t-shirt and add depth to your design. It can be used directly on typography or in touches to give volume to small details.

Screen printing based on metallic ink

Metallic screen printing inks offer the ability to incorporate gold and silver colors into your designs.  It’s still the same process as classic screen printing, with the added advantage of making your designs sparkle on the textiles. Metallic silver and gold finishes produce a beautiful shiny look when printed on custom t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets or bags. As in the example presented a little further down, the gold ink screen printing brings shine and a premium touch to the textile! 

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