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What Is Screen Printing?

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is a popular process for larger orders of printed t-shirts and bigger designs as the process is efficient and helps the design to be maintained for longer periods of time. Screen printing is the process of creating a stencil design and transferring it onto the material using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee which is used to push the ink through onto the material beneath.

This method of printing is most commonly used on fabric or paper, but it can also be used for wood, metal, plastic and glass if suitable inks are used. It’s a versatile method of creating long-lasting designs that have incredibly intense colour. Because of the complexity of the process, screen printing is best used for batches of over ten items or more. However, it’s a common option for commercial printing as one stencil can be used to reproduce the same design over and over again.

What techniques can be used?

There are different stencilling techniques that can be applied when screen printing, from using masking tape to cover areas of the screen, to painting the stencil onto the mesh using screen blocks such as lacquer or glue, or using light-sensitive emulsions to create the stencil which can then be developed in a similar way to how photographs are developed. Your designs can be made using just one colour of ink or several, but when multiple colours are used, the inks have to be applied in individual layers using separate stencils for each area of colour.

What is screen printing used for?

This is an ancient form of printing that dates back to 950 AD, but these days screen printing is used as an artistic medium and for commercial prints. Screen printing is widely used because the colours are incredibly vivid when this process is used, even on dark fabrics, and because the ink is applied in layers, there’s a pleasant tactile quality to the design. It also makes it incredibly easy for designs to be replicated so it’s great for creating multiple copies of the same item, particularly for larger batches.

For custom clothes, such as for sports teams or for company uniforms, screen printing is an effective and highly efficient way of producing garments. It’s also great for creating intricate multicoloured designs, as although there’s a limit to the number of colours that can be used in one design due to the complex process, the colours are bolder and more intense.

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