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How Does Screen Printing Actually Work?


Screen printing design is one of the most flexible methods to print designs. Back in the 19th century, fabrics were attached to wooden frames to hold stencils.


Screen printing is the process to print graphics on a t-shirt. It is also known as silk screen printing. Every colour used requires a separate screen. Many printing companies prefer this technique for bulk production.


In screen printing:


  • The framework/mesh holds the design.
  • Ink is impressed through pores that settle on the fabric.
  • Design gets printed and exposed to UV lamps for a smooth surface.


The technique depends on your printing specification. The ultimate target is to achieve the best quality, speed, accuracy and bulk production. The different types of screen printing are:


  • Stencilling- If you look back into history, designs were either drawn and painted by hands or printed. It is a process to apply a thick paste to the fabric. The design cut-outs do not take colour, and the dye is applied to the surface.

  • Rotary Printing- It is a process where continuous screen or rollers apply colour onto the fabric. The roller’s speed and the web delivers fast speed.

  • Digital Hybrid Printing- This is one of the latest inventions in the printing industry. The UV-inkjet technology is combined with flexographic stations to produce print and run complex projects.


How Do You Do Screen Printing?


The screen printing process is a step-by-step procedure that requires experience and accuracy. These are available in both automated and manual versions.


Your design should be in a proper vector format like Ps, Ai, EPS and TIFF. It makes your work easy. You can re-open, re-edit, and revise your file as many times as you want. Avoid using pixel-based files-GIF, PNG, JPEG and BMP.


The quality of the print also depends on the d.p.i(dots per inch). The quality must be more than 400 d.p.i.


Screen and Mesh- A mesh is a layer of fabric attached to the frame. Once you have your design, select your screen and mesh count (number of fibres/sq. inch). It is directly proportional to the print’s quality.


A count less than 40 goes well with glitter inks. Choose a range of 60-90 for expanding inks. 100-160 is one of the most prefered ranges. Counts more than 180 are for dark fabrics and precise details.


Emulsion- Apply a layer of photosensitive emulsion on the screen printing screens. It is crucial to understand the proportion. It creates a two-tone colour-green and shade of yellow(screen’s colour).


Tape your frame and screen to avoid the bleeding of ink. Water-based ink requires taping because of its low viscosity and higher tendency to spread. Allow the screen to dry in a cool, dark place.


Colour- Use the best quality(thick-textured) ink for a high-quality design.


Press- This stage involves the layering of fabric/t-shirt on the ironing board. Lasers provide accurate positioning of the design. Place the silk screen printing machine carefully on the fabric. Evenly spread the ink on the screen. The tiny pore on the screen allows the t-shirt to soak the ink.


Dry- Place your t-shirts in the dryer. Ensure the temperature to avoid colour bleeding.


What Do You Need for Screen Printing?


The raw materials required for screen printing are:


  • A mesh and frame - to create and print designs.
  • A Photosensitive Emulsion - to coat the mesh.
  • UV Exposure Unit - to prepare stencils.
  • Wash Area - to wash the stencils.
  • Tape - to cover the edges of the screen and frame.
  • Dark Area - to dry emulsion-coated screen.
  • Squeeze - a rubber slide over to impress ink over designs.
  • Spatula - to prepare and mix ink.
  • Container - to mix the colours.
  • Colour - use of powder(acid, plastisol) to make a thick paste to apply on screens.
  • Scrubber - to scrape off the emulsion.
  • Solvent - to clean the left-over ink on screens and spatula.
  • Printing Table - spread the fabric and carry out the dynamic screen printing process.


What Machine Do You Need for Screen Printing?


You should have a proper setup to run the best quality screen printing production. These are the must-have machines to carry out the process.


  • Screen Printing Press has four crosses. It comes with pallets and bench-top equipment. The pallet evenly gets inside the shirt, which makes it convenient to print. Always buy a press that meets your requirements (flexibility, number of colours).

  • Flash Cure is an air flash press that performs multi-colour jobs. The ink needs to reach 320 degrees to cure. The ink at the top is hotter than at the bottom.

A flash dryer allows one or more colour to dry before the printing of the upcoming colour. Be careful with the surrounding temperature. It will affect the pallet and t-shirt.


  • Exposure Unit is a photographic process that exposes the screen to UV light sources (quartz and blue fluorescent tubes). It is crucial to provide sufficient UV light to harden the emulsion.

  • Computer, vector software (Corel draw and Illustrator) and an inkjet printer is crucial for screen printing.

  • The Pressure Washer uses high jet pressure to remove emulsions and other screens.


Is Screen Printing Hard?


It depends on the type of production you wish to carry out. Screen printing has certain advantages.


  • It provides high-quality output.
  • It produces bold and vibrant colours.
  • It is efficient and provides speed.
  • The bulk efficiency is unbeatable.
  • You can create various textures and effects.
  • Screen designs last longer.
  • It is versatile.


These days people prefer custom screen printing. It helps you with:


  • Personalization.
  • Spread the word.
  • Brand awareness.
  • Engage potential customers.
  • Best-quality and durable wholesale option.



Final Thoughts


Smart Blanks believe in a creative vision. Our customer’s satisfaction has always been more than just a review. We are the largest manufacturers and importers of bulk apparels. Apart from basic shirts, we also do screen printing on t-shirts. A scope to print on any size and use of various printing techniques.