In the screen printing business there is one common and very popular misconception about sample shirts. We see a lot of customers request one shirt to ensure that their vision translates perfectly; however, the unfortunate reality is that sample printing is very timely and costly. So, I thought we could share the process to let you know how labor intensive screen printing can be.
To begin, the art must be prepped for the print. In order to do this the design is separated by color into different layers. You see, for each color that is present in your design represents one screen. For example, 3 colors equals 3 screens. 4 colors equals 4 screens, etc. The next step in the process is film. When your image is printed out, it is bonded to a special type of transparency film. Now remember each layer of the image must require its very own film, which requires us to separate each portion of the image. Therefore, 3 colors equals three separates films.
Still with me?
Good, because this next part is extremely delicate and important so stay with me! Thus far we’ve talked about art work, layering colors, film and words like photo emulsion. Next up is the screen. The artist then takes your film and burns a copy onto a silk screen that has been coated in emulsion, dried, and then placed under an ultraviolet light. Areas that are clear help harden the emulsion and after screens are washed (hosepipe, water, ya know that sort of thing!) the areas of emulsion that were not exposed to light get washed away leaving us a transfer of negative image. Now remember, and this why it’s so time consuming and difficult to do just one sample, we must do this for each layer that’s present in the image.
Each screen is then attached to the press and ink is squeegeed through the screen layer by layer until your final image appears. After this step is completed the shirts are cured by running through an industrial dryer, folded, and shipped off!
Screen printing is a process, a very delicate one that I can guarantee you do not want to rush! It is about pulling apart the image and layering the colors on top of one another and finding the perfect balance within each screen. The beautiful part is that we at TakeHold Printing are more than happy to provide a mock up that will help our clients visualize exactly what the shirt will look like!