Screen printing involves a squeegee pushing an ink through an image on a screen onto the surface to be printed. Although called silk screen printing, the screens now are generally made of polyester and stretched over a wood or metal frame. The screen is coated with a light sensitive emulsion which allows the image to be burned onto the screen using a film positive and a UV exposure unit. There is one screen for each color and location that is printed. The exposed screens are mounted on the press and registered to each other so that the images line up correctly. The screens then are filled with the proper ink and a squeegee pulls the ink across the screen, depositing the ink through the stencil onto the printing surface. After all colors are printed in this manner, the garment is then passed down a conveyor dryer in order to cure the ink properly for a lasting image.
Screen Printing is among the most versatile of graphic processes. Thousands of different types of garments, ad specialties, and promotional items are screen printed. There are eight basic steps for each screen printed job.
- CREATE A FILM POSITIVE
We take your design or one that we have created for you and print via Epson ink jet printers operating with a multi rip onto a translucent film. Our rips give us a very dense image and sharp edges that are required for high quality images. One film is required for each color and location. Please visit ARTWORK REQUIREMENTS for specific instructions for artwork.
- EXPOSE SCREENS
In order to transfer your art onto a screen, the film must be put into contact with a photo sensitive, emulsion coated screen and exposed to UV light. We utilize Richmond Solar Beam exposure units with a good vacuum in order to hold the imaged film in direct contact with the emulsion. These units provide a precise control of all variables that will contribute to good screens and high quality prints.
- DEVELOP THE SCREENS
The exposed screen is then washed with water to remove any emulsion where the positive image appeared on the film. This operation will make a stencil that ink passes through when you print the image.
- REGISTER SCREENS AND PRINT GARMENTS
Printing is the easiest part of the process. You must now register your screens, one for each color and location, to a film positive that is placed on one of the printing pallets. Clamp the screens in place, use the micro registration controls for final adjustment, and print the garment by pulling a precisely sharpened squeegee and ink across the image.
- FLASH CURE
To get a bright, opaque image on dark colored garments, it is often necessary to flash cure or partially cure the ink and then print another layer on top. This print, flash, print technique is also used for multi-color printing on dark garments.
- CURE PRINTED GARMENT
This step fully cures the ink with a conveyor dryer. Getting the proper ink-cure is the key to a long lasting image. Your garment is now complete and ready for further processing, such as folding and bagging, or for delivery to the customer.
- RECLAIM AND RETENSION THE SCREEN
Although the garment is finished, the job is not. You must now remove any ink from the screen and dispose of it under environmentally safe conditions, strip the emulsion from the screen in large dip tanks, remove any haze, degrease the screen, and dry for the next step. The tension of the screen is now checked and adjusted if it has become lessened by the printing process. Correct tension is absolutely necessary for good quality print.
- RECOAT THE SCREEN
The clean screen is now coated with the photo sensitive emulsion in such a way to insure that all mesh is correctly covered with the proper thickness of emulsion. The coated screen is then stored in a climate controlled environment, both temperature, 25 degrees C., and humidity, 50% R.H. The screen is now ready to be put through the next eight step process. These last two steps are the most important in order to maintain a high quality print. They are time consuming, highly controlled processes that separate us from the other, lesser quality competitors.
Digital artwork requirements can be found here.
View our online catalogue here.
Please contact us for any further questions, or to get your printing started today!