We are professional screen printers. Do you know what that means? Well, we are here to give you a quick and simple rundown on the basics of screen printing!
Screen printing, what is it? The word partially describes it, but it gets pretty complicated. There are many different variables in action while screen printing. If you are a screen printer, you must manage the type of inks, the time it takes to put the ink on the product, the temperature of the product and inks, and also the UV lights (only when making the screen).
Screen printing has been around for many, many years. It used to actually be called ‘silk screening’. The screens were made on 100% silk fabric, rather than today’s mesh material, which is more durable. The process has not changes a whole lot since the old days of silk screening, but today there are many new techniques that could not have been achieved in the old days.
Making The Screen
Screens are made using a special product called emulsion, which is laid very thinly on the mesh of the screen. This is a photo sensitive product. When UV light hits emulsion, it begins to cure, and that’s when the magic happens!
When a screen is covered with air dried emulsion, a screen printer then prints a film positive, which is 100% black ink on a transparent film. This film is the placed on the back of the screen that contains the emulsion. UV light is then shined upon the screen, which then cures all areas of the emulsion which is exposed to the UV. The black ink on the film prevents the UV from penetrating the emulsion, allowing the area underneath the black ink to be washed out, thus creating a stencil.
Now the the screen is prepped, the printer then shoots the unexposed emulsion out of the screen with high pressure water. A perfect stencil is formed! After allowing the screen to dry from the water, the printer will then add the screen to his/hers printing press.
Now that the screen is ready to be used, ink is applied to the screen. There are many different types of inks that can be used when screen printing. In this case we will discuss an ink called ‘plastisol’ ink. This is a plastic ink that when applied to cotton garments, cures at around 320 degrees. Once the ink is applied to the screen, the printer then takes his squeegee, and presses the ink through the stencil, onto the product.
The product is then taken off the printing press, and put under a heating over to cure the ink. Once the ink reaching is curing level, it will then permanently be on the product! There is much more involved with screen printing, but we just wanted to give you the basics of the process. When printing, there are tons of different methods and inks to be used depending on the products specifications. Screen printing is a timeless process, and we sure love being good at it, and helping local businesses!