Screen Printing Basics

screen printing basicsHere we’ll go through the basic steps of screen printing and define some of the common terms in the industry to help you better understand what you are ultimately purchasing and what questions you might want to ask.

In it’s most simplest form it involves the following steps.

  1. Create a design to be printed.  This should be done with a tool such as Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop or similar programs.  One of the important parts is that the file be saved as a vector format so that BUNYANprint can manipulate your image to ready it for screen printing.  Common vector formats are .AI, .EPS, .SVG, .CDW, .PDF or .BMP files.
  2. Prepare a screen for printing by degreasing it and applying an emulsion for exposure.
  3. Print out the design on transparent film.  Each color will be printed out separately replacing any color as full black.  In essence we are creating a positive of the design.  If the design is to be screen printed on a dark garment then a base white layer will also have to be created and printed.
  4. Expose the transparency positive on the prepared screen using a UV exposure unit.
  5. Spray out the exposed screen removing the unexposed emulsion.
  6. Align the prepared screens in the screen printing press.  This process is known as registration.
  7. Print the design on the garment or accessory using a squeegee to force ink through the screen openings transferring the design.
  8. Optional: flash dry the colors between prints especially if a base layer is used.
  9. Cure the screen printing ink through a dedicated conveyor dryer to at least 320 degrees.
  10. Clean and reclaim the screens.

The process itself is relatively straightforward but the steps must be completed appropriately.  You can also see why there is often a screen setup charge per color built into the price of must screen printing establishments.  Many of our packages also wave the screen setup fee as well even for smaller quantities.  We’re not trying to make our process abstract or difficult by presenting you with 90 different options and fees.  We want you to understand up front what you are paying and what you are paying for.  An informed customer is a happy customer.  We wouldn’t have it any other way.