The Process of Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing technique where ink is transferred to a shirt by way of a stencil block or a squeegee.  The ink is placed over a fine mesh material, filling in the porous gaps.  The ink is usually transferred onto polyester or another fine mesh.  Originally, the ink used to be transferred to silk, this process was known as silk-screen printing.    The most popular mesh that is currently used is polyester.  Screen printing services made its first appearance in China, around 960-1279 AD.

Before printing you have to pretreat the area that the ink will be transferred onto.  This is also known as the pre-press process. Degreasing is not always required, but is highly recommended before printing.  It will help alleviate any problems you may have due to any oils, dust, or dirt located on the screen.  You will want to wet both sides of your screen with water, add the degreaser and scrub both sides several times slowly and carefully with a scrub brush, then thoroughly rinse your screen with water, and when finished allow the screen to air dry completely.

After the degreasing is done and your screen is dry, you will want to decide on what ink you would prefer to use for the image you have chosen.  Plastisol is the most common type of ink used when printing on textiles.  Next, you are going to coat your screen with the photo emulsion solution.  Make sure to read all of the directions on the bottle before applying.  The emulsion will cover an area that is slightly bigger than the chosen image.  Leave the screen in a dark area until it is completely dry.  Do not turn any lights on.  Think of it like you are developing photos in a dark room.  Light will ruin your image.  Then take a dark board or cloth and lay your screen facedown onto the board.  Place your image on top of this and position the lamp with an at least 250 watt bulb to hit your image.  Leave the light on it for a good ten to fifteen minutes.  Finally, take your t-shirt and put it under the screen and add the color of ink you desire.  Stretch it across thinly and carefully with the squeegee.  Lift up your screen and then you’re done!  Follow these simple steps and you are well on your way to a great hobby in screen printing!

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