Screen Printing Process

Nowadays screen printing is more versatile than ever. It is available in both manual and automated versions. It is practised professionally and as a hobby by designers, artists, manufacturers and anything in between. Regardless if it is performed by a machine or a person. The process is pretty much the same:

Creating the screen

There are two ways of creating a screen for serigraphy. You can either use pretty much any flat material that allows you to cut it (paper, wood, metal, etc…) as a stencil or, what most people do, go chemical:

  • Add water to sensitiser and mix with emulsion
  • Pour the mix onto the screen
  • Using a squeegee, spread it evenly on both sides of the screen
  • Dry emulsion
  • Once the screen is dry, lay artwork on the back
  • Set the design
  • Clean out unexposed emulsion*
    * Note: Screens can be used again for more prints when they’re cleaned properly. They’ll probably get stained, but that colour won’t be transpired to the new garment.

Screen-Printing-Process

Printing
– Place design on top of the desired position
– Add a thick layer of ink on top of the artwork
– Spread across evenly using the squeegee*
– Remove screen
– Wait for the ink to dry on the garment
– Set the ink on the fabric by using some sort of dryer
* Note: Due to the layering nature of screen printing, every colour must be applied one at a time and, depending on the design, may require producing a different screen for each tone. We’ll go more into detail later.

Manual Screen Printing
As the name implies, this process is done by hand. It can be performed by just one person or for better results, by two people. One person uses the squeegee, while the other one holds the screen, for example. The quality of the garments is not affected if it’s done by hand or by machine, in fact, some people may argue that the manual labour has a better finish since it is done with more care.

Automatic Screen Printing:
As we already mentioned, the automatic process is the same as the manual one with the human factor being the only difference. While some are not fans of the automated presses, they do have their advantages. They have significantly cut down production time thanks to:

  • Larger screens, which allow more design space
  • Drying systems
  • Rotatory screens for continued production
    Supplies
    Depending on the type of Screen Printing method you want, the supplies you require may vary, but for the most part this is what you’ll need:
  • Screen and frame
  • Photo emulsion and sensitiser
  • A pitch black room
  • A garment or material to print onto
  • Squeegee
  • Silk Screen Fabric Ink
  • Small piece of cardboard or wood to fit inside the garment (if you’re printing onto a T-shirt, for example)
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