The Process involved in Screen Printing

Nowadays screen printing is more versatile than ever. It is available in both manual and automated versions. It is practiced professionally and as a hobby by designers, artists, manufacturers and anything in between. Regardless if it is performed by a machine or a person, the process is pretty much the same:

screen-printing-studioCreating the screen

There are two ways of creating a screen for serigraphy. You can either use pretty much any flat material that allows you to cut it (paper, wood, metal, etc…) as a stencil or, what most people do, go chemical:

  • Add water to sensitiser and mix with emulsion
  • Pour the mix onto the screen
  • Using a squeegee, spread it evenly on both sides of the screen
  • Dry emulsion
  • Once the screen is dry, lay artwork on the back
  • Set the design
  • Clean out unexposed emulsion

Printing

  • Place design on top of the desired position
  • Add a thick layer of ink on top of the artwork
  • Spread across evenly using the squeegee*
  • Remove screen
  • Wait for the ink to dry on the garment
  • Set the ink on the fabric by using some sort of dryer
Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Manual Screen Printing

As the name implies, this process is done by hand. It can be performed by just one person or for better results, by two people. One person uses the squeegee, while the other one holds the screen, for example. The quality of the garments is not affected if it’s done by hand or by machine, in fact some people may argue that the manual labour has a better finish since it is done with more care.

Automatic Screen Printing:

As we already mentioned, the automatic process is the same as the manual one with the human factor being the only difference. While some are not fans of the automated presses, they do have their advantages. They have significantly cut down production time thanks to:

  • Larger screens, which allow more design space
  • Drying systems
  • Rotatory screens for continued production

distressed logo

Supplies

Depending on the type of Screen Printing method you want, the supplies you require may vary, but for the most part this is what you’ll need:

  • Screen and frame
  • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
  • A pitch black room
  • A garment or material to print onto
  • Squeegee
  • Silk Screen Fabric Ink
  • Small piece of cardboard or wood to fit inside the garment (if you’re printing onto a T-shirt, for example)