The process of screen printing involves pressing ink through a stenciled mesh screen, leaving behind a printed design on the surface of your choice. Highly customizable, it is a convenient technique to print on canvases, fabrics, and textiles. With screen printing, you can create a wide variety of products and artworks.
How Does Screen Printing Work
The artist creates a design. This design is transferred to the mesh screen using a variety of techniques like using glue, lacquer, or light-sensitive emulsion. The mesh screen is now a stencil used for printing. Ink is added to the mesh screen and pressed through. The areas of the screen not previously coated allow the ink to pass through to the printing surface. The screen is removed and the printing surface is dried. If the design is multicolored, more than one stencil and ink have to be used.
Why Screen Printing Is Used
Screen printing is popular due to the vivid colors it can produce, even when used on darker fabrics. The layers of ink on the printing surface also add a tactile quality to the product. It is also an efficient way to produce many prints in a short amount of time. The same stencil can be reused repeatedly, thus making it very convenient to replicate the same product. As part of marketing campaigns, this efficiency has allowed customers to choose and have their screen printed t-shirts made on the spot.
What Makes It Different from Digital Printing and Heat Transfer Printing
For garments, digital printing makes use of a specialized fabric printer to place an image on the textile directly. It can apply multiple colors at the same time, making it easier to print more colorful designs. However, because digital printers use dots of color instead of solid blocks of ink, the colors printed are much less vibrant. The simple and mobile resources required for screen printing also allow for screen printing to take place in harsher conditions.
Heat transfer printing uses heat to bind the printing material to the fabric. However, the quality of the final print is highly dependent on the materials used. Screen printing produces more consistent results, although it has difficulties working on awkwardly shaped surfaces like shoes or backpacks.
Tips for Screen Printing
• Use a press to make the process more efficient. A press holds the screen at the same position as the printer swaps out the printing surface, reducing the time spent in-between prints.
• Use different inks for different effects. There are glittery inks, puffy inks, and many others. Try them and see how they work on your printing surface!
• Use a squeegee in a size similar to that of the screen. This will improve coverage. Additionally, using a squeegee with a firmer rubber blade helps ensure a more even and comprehensive spread of ink. This is important for more detailed designs.
• Carefully follow the stated temperature and duration required for your chosen ink to dry. This ensures that the ink will not wash out, creating a long-lasting product.
Screen printing is a fun and relaxing activity to do with your loved ones. Use the information and tips above to kickstart your journey!