Traditionally silk screen printing involved the usage of woven mesh used as the support for ink-blocking stencil application. The open mesh areas placed over the printable surface allowed for transferring of the ink through the stencil openings onto the printable fabrics.
With silk screen printing a special squeegee was used for moving over the stencil forcing ink through the mesh onto the material. Specific designs could be printed onto printable fabric with this method. Unfortunately, the process took long and because of the waiting period associated with the drying of ink, customers had to wait longer when they ordered in bulk.
There was also no guarantee that all the prints would come out the same. This meant more quality control measures had to be used, which all added to the price of the silk screen printing process.
Digital Screen Printing
Although the printing method is still used today and available should customers prefer such, it has largely been replaced with digital screen printing, which is cheaper, more accurate and certainly also more applicable in a modern world where time is of the essence.
With the newer method a process similar to normal printing is used, but instead of paper being the medium transferred to, textile is the receiver. Blankets, shirts, caps, and bags can all be branded with company messages and logos using the new digital screen printing methods.
The newer method is exceptionally fast and whereas only one or two colours could be used in the past, several colours can now be printed onto the textiles. Indeed, designs can be more complicated allowing for more detailed printing even though a screen print method is still applied.
The Modern Process
Light-sensitive material together with film positive images is used to create the image on the textile or promotional item. The image is placed on a screen and then the printer presses the ink through the screen with the use of a squeegee, but instead of having to create a special stencil, a computer generated stencil is used.
Brilliant colours are used to create the print and today we can print numerous copies with the use of a single colour or various colours.
Before the image is printed onto the textile, it is transferred to a film positive. The design is done with a special design program and then printed onto a transparent sheet. The best printer for the job is of course, a laser printer because of quality and accuracy.
The screen is still in use and is placed over a special frame where the frame is then coated with a light sensitive agent. Once dried the film-positive is placed face down on the screen followed by the placement of glass against the film positive. A process of spraying warm water and exposure to light is used for the master. Once the screen is completely dry, it can be placed in the screen print press. The printer wipes the ink through onto the textile and you have your print.
The process has almost stayed the same, except for the addition of modern technology for more accurate, faster, and cheaper printing of the images. We recommend the screen print method for general rather than detailed images for optimal results.