Screen printing is a common method for creating custom projects. Using your own custom graphics, you can customize a wide variety of materials. Whether you want to print a simple image or a more intricate design, screen printing can be used to make any number of accurate copies. If you’ve got a creative concept you want to make, custom print shops can bring your ideas to life. But how does it work?
Simply put, screen printing is a technique that uses a mesh screen to transfer ink onto a surface. It is a fast and efficient way to produce large quantities of prints, making it ideal for commercial applications such as signage. This is because it uses the same stencil each time, allowing even the most highly detailed designs to be duplicated repeatedly without losing quality for a pristine finished product each time. Let’s go into a little more detail on the process of silkscreen printing:
How Are Stencils Made?
Screen printing is a versatile technique that can be used on various surfaces, including paper, fabric, metal, and glass. First, the screen printer coats a silk mesh screen with a light-sensitive emulsion. Then, the desired image is projected onto the screen using a negative. The light causes the emulsion to harden, while the unexposed emulsion remains liquid. The liquid emulsion is washed away once the exposure is complete, forming a stencil of the image. Where the emulsion has dried, it forms a barrier that prevents ink from passing through the screen. After rinsing and drying, the screen is placed on top of the printing surface and ink is applied to the top.
How is the Ink Applied?
To create a print from your stencil on your desired item, ink is poured onto the stencil and spread evenly over it. This fills in the design on the screen, which can then be transferred onto the material. The tighter the silk is woven, the more detailed the end result will be.
Once the ink is applied, a squeegee is used to pull the ink across the screen. The squeegee helps to evenly distribute the ink and ensure that no areas are left blank. The ink passes through the screen in the desired shape. The ink passes through the openings in the stencil and onto the surface below, creating a mirror image of the original image. After drying and curing, your item is ready for action!
A variety of inks can be used for screenprinting, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Water-based inks are a commonly used type, as they are relatively inexpensive. However, water-based inks can be difficult to print with, as they can cause the screens to clog. Moreover, water-based inks tend to be less durable than other types of inks, making them a less ideal choice for printing items that will be exposed to sunlight or heavy wear. Water-based inks are most often used with cloth substrates because they allow the cloth to remain soft while taking on their new design.
Solvent-based inks are much easier to print with and produce a more vibrant and durable finish. However, solvent-based inks can be very harmful if their fumes are inhaled, so they require special ventilation and disposal equipment. Solvent-based inks are generally more expensive than water-based inks, but they offer some benefits. Ultimately, the best ink type will depend on the specific project. Inks adhere to some substrates better than others. It’s a good idea to check with a silkscreening business to find out which ink type will work best for your project.
The drying process of silkscreened projects is critical to the quality of the final product. If the project is not dried properly, it can lead to smudging or fading of the design. Two main methods of drying silkscreened projects are air drying and heat setting. Air drying is a common method and simply involves allowing the project to dry naturally in a well-ventilated area. Although it is more time-consuming, heat setting will result in a longer-lasting and higher-quality print. Certain substrates, like plastic, may not respond well to heat-setting.
Depending on the material you’re screen printing, the drying and setting process will differ. Once the ink is applied, it may be heat-set or air-dried to cure correctly. With proper care, your screen-printed designs should last for many years to come. For these reasons, it’s important to work with experts who know the best way to make your designs last.
Come to DC Custom Silkscreening!
Since 1985, DC Custom Silkscreening has provided its customers in Portland, Oregon with the highest quality products and customer service. We take pride in our workmanship and attention to detail and are dedicated to providing our customers with the best possible experience. There’s a reason we’ve lasted so long in the custom printing industry. You can rest assured that your custom printing project is in good hands.
We are here to bring your ideas to life from concept to completion. Our team of skilled professionals will work with you to create custom projects to your specifications. Bring us your ideas and let us work our magic; we’re sure you’ll be delighted with the result. Contact us today to learn more about what our custom screen printing services can do for you.