What is screen printing?
Screen printing is the technique of creating a picture or pattern by forcing ink onto a surface through a screen of fine mesh material. It involves many steps:-
- Making your digital design/artwork suitable for screen printing.
- Printing each colour of your artwork onto a separate clear film.
- Shining a high-powered light through the clear film onto a mesh screen that has been coated with light-sensitive coating.
- Removing the uncured coating in the areas where your design is.
- Pushing ink across the screen so it only passes through onto the garment where your design is, creating a duplicate of your artwork.
Screen printing is great for creating many copies of the same thing. The downside to it is that you need a separate screen for each colour in your design and the setup cost is roughly the same for 10 items as it is for 1000.
What are halftone dots?
You may have heard the term halftones if your design contains areas of shading or gradients. Unlike with a digital inkjet printer in screen printing you cannot print these shades without converting these parts of the image to halftone dots to create the effect of shades and gradients from a suitable distance. If you are printing red ink you can either print 100% red or nothing through the screen. The way to create a 50% shade of red is to only print 100% red in 50% of the area….if that makes sense?
How does screen print compare to other methods of printing?
It can be a minefield with the various methods of printing onto textiles. Screen print, DTG, DTF, HTV, Hybrid and embroidery are all great, but if you send us your artwork and we think one of the other methods is better for you then we will just tell you.
If you only want a couple of garments with a photo on them then DTG would be the way to go. 10 Hen tees with individual names – vinyl. 100 tees with a 2 colour design then screen print would be the most cost-effective.
In terms of the brightest colours and longevity of the print then we think screen print still has the edge. Resolution wise DTG wins. It’s a bit like mp3 versus vinyl. Digital printing methods are getting cheaper and more convenient but nothing beats a first pressing gatefold screen print.