Also known as silk screening, screen printing has actually been around for thousands of years. It was first used by the Chinese, but things were a little different back then. They used human hair which they stretched across a wooden frame, creating a screen; then made stencils from leaves which were attached to the screens. After they Chinese mastered the art, it was adapted by Japan and onwards through Asia, before finally hitting European shores in the late 18th Century.
As the years went by, techniques obviously changed with technology. In recent years, the popularity of screen printing has been linked to Andy Warhol, a famous artist of the 1960s who used screen printing in his art.
The advances in technology mean that today, screen printing is more advanced than ever, with constant improvements. These days, the screen is made of mesh (such as a synthetic polymer like nylon); rather than human hair. And usually there is a screen for each color, which are then lined up and printed (after testing to ensure the colors all line up).
Your favorite T-shirt? Most likely screen printed.
So what are the three things you need to know about screen printing.
1. Screen printing is designed for bulk. It’s going to cost you a lot of money if you want to screen print just one item, so it’s a great idea for company shirts, band merchandise, sportswear and similar. If you are printing a lot of colors over a large space, you’re going to save money with screen printing compared to other options like embroidery. You’re also going to get better quality images and the more you print, the cheaper it is.
2. You can print as many colors as you like. There are two ways to arrange this. Firstly, choose your colors from a Coated Pantone book and then tell your printer what colors you want. Or, if you aren’t sure, just give them an idea and leave it in their capable hands to find a suitable color. Just remember that the colors on every computer look different so while they will try their best to match your color, there may be the occasional slight difference in tone.
3. When it comes to choosing the right fabric for your screen printing, there are some styles that are going to work better than others. Of course the best option is to stick to cotton. It is, without a doubt, the best material around, particularly when it comes to printing. But 100% cotton isn’t always feasible, so you might need to choose a blend instead. Something like a polyester and cotton blend is going to work well. Just remember, the more cotton in the mix, the better the results will be.
If you’re not sure of the design you want and need some advice or you want to find out more about the screen printing process and whether it is right for your products or business, talk to a professional consultant.