What is Screen Printing?
It is known by many names, screen printing, serigraphy, silk printing, but they all refer to the same thing — a millenary printing technique that requires three things:
– A screen
– A squeegee
In this process, the ink is pushed through a mesh or stencil to print a particular design on the desired material, like your personalised t-shirt. Either by cutouts or by an impermeable material, the liquid only transfers to the areas the screen permits, allowing for great design potential. The technique has got a long history and has evolved throughout the years, but the mechanics have stayed pretty much the same.
A quick history of screen printing
Most sources agree that the earliest form of screen printing can be traced back to China’s Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) and from there, it spread all over Asia where in places like Japan it was further developed. While others state the roots of this method can be found in the 4th century India and some go as far back to ancient Egypt in 3000 A.D.
Screen printing didn’t make it across the globe until the 18th century, but it didn’t catch on very quickly due to the fact that it was difficult to find silk mesh back then. At first, the method was mostly used to decorate clothing, walls and some objects. It wasn’t until the 19th century when it became popular in the world of advertising.
The next big leap for screen printing would come in the early 20th century when Samuel Simon patented the technique in England. Around that same time, along with the invention of photography, new materials (which are the norm nowadays) started being tested in order to make the process faster. The 20th century also marked the moment when screen printing became mainstream thanks to the likes of Andy Warhol who used the method to create their works of art. Arguably Warhol’s most famous work Marilyn Diptych (1962) — the portrait of Marilyn Monroe — is a silkscreen painting.
In the 60’s, American inventor and entrepreneur Michael Vasilantone along with his wife Fannie founded a textile company called Vastex. Quickly they realised that the process of screen printing garments was slow and they wondered if they could be a way to optimise time. Mr Vasilantone got to work and invented the dual rotatory printing press, which allows producing many items in a fraction of the time it took before. Till this day, the machine is still used by industrial manufacturers. Simply put, Mr Vasilantone revolutionised the T-shirt industry.