Ultimate Guide to Screen Printing

Are you considering starting a business but don’t have enough capital? Or do you want to attend an event and pass across a message using your printed shirt? Well, screen printing is probably the best way of accomplishing all these.


But do you know what screen printing is all about?


You won’t be able to get started if you don’t understand what screen printing is in the first place. But the good news is that screen printing is something that can be done by anyone at home. You have probably come across or bought screen printed items without your knowledge.


What is screen printing?


Screen printing is a process that involves the transfer of stenciled designs into any object through the use of mesh, ink, and squeegee. Screen printing is normally done on fabric and paper but can also be applied on plastic, metal, or glass using a certain type of special ink.


The first step involves creating a stencil on a mesh and then pushing ink through it using a squeegee on the intended surface to be printed.


But how do you create a stencil?


  • Mask your desired area using vinyl or tape
  • Paint on the mesh using a screen blocker
  • Use light-sensitive emulsions


Screen printing supplies


For your screen printing to be successful, there are certain supplies that you will require. The supplies will depend on the screen printing method you are using.


However, some materials cut across various methods. They include the following:


  • Silkscreen
  • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
  • Squeegee
  • Frame
  • Silkscreen ink
  • Wood-board or any surface to place the piece you want to print
  • A pitch-black room


Silkscreen mesh


Silkscreen mesh is made of a wooden or metal frame together with a fine mesh fabric. The mesh fabric is rolled from silk.


But some people nowadays use polyester as screen mesh. Most people prefer it because it serves the same purpose as silk but at a lower cost. You should be careful when it comes to choosing silk because it will affect the final result.


Mesh count is also an important factor to consider. This is because you will be able to know the number of threads per square inch. For example, a 50 mesh count shows there are 50 threads per inch. A finer mesh count has few openings and permits lower ink but can still create a detailed image.


Consider these two points when choosing a mesh:


  • Water-based inks dry quickly on a finer mesh. You should mix your water-based ink with a retarder to make your work easier
  • If you are using a lower mesh count screen, ensure your screen is exposed longer to set the emulsion properly


A step-by-step guide to screen printing


Step one: Come up with an ultimate design


This involves printing your ultimate design on an acetate film to produce a stencil for further processing.


Step two: Prepare the screen


  • Choose the best screen depending on the complexity of the design and the texture of the fabric
  • Apply the screen mesh using a light-sensitive emulsion


Step three: Expose the emulsion to light


  • Put the ultimate design onto the coated screen mesh
  • The role of the light is to make the emulsion harder
  • The parts covered by the design will remain in liquid form


Step four: Stencil creation


  • The emulsion will become hard after being exposed to light for some time.
  • Rinse off the remains that are still in liquid form.
  • Dry the screen and prepare your stencil for printing


Step five: object printing


  • Put the screen on the printing press
  • Out the piece you want to print
  • Have more than one printing press options


Step Six: pressing the ink


Step seven: Dry the ink