Screen printing, or silk-screen, is currently the most used process for printing items such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, jeans, ceramics, stickers, etc. The main reason this is the predominant technique in the printing industry is the immense range of options it opens up. Over the years, manufacturers of paints and other inputs have been launching innovative products that are giving new air to the already century-old silk-screen.
Below We describe for you the steps the process of how we do Dallas T Shirt Screen Printing, as I believe that every designer should at least be aware of how their creations are printed on clothes and the like.
1st Graphic art
It all starts with the work of the designer, who usually, together with the piece’s stylist, studies what the style of the print will be, the colors, the type, the effects, the location, etc. Based on this planning, the designer creates the print design, which in this part of the process is called art.
2nd Color separation
Art is usually created in vector illustration software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Coreldraw. Once ready, the colors must be separated, as screen printing requires that each color be engraved in a different matrix, so that, when printed, they all form the colored figure.
3rd Printing of photoliths/negatives
Now it’s time to print the photoliths (also called by some negatives, vegetable, polyester, etc.). The quality of color separation and photoliths will directly influence the quality of the print. Well-designed art will be of no use if the colors don’t match perfectly when silking.
4th Recording of matrices
After the photoliths are printed, they are sent to screen printing for engraving the matrices. Matrices are nothing more than metal or wooden frames with a tightly stretched screen, where a photosensitive emulsion is passed which, when in contact with a UV light source, hardens where the photolith is not, thus allowing the photolith art to be revealed in the matrix.
5th Preparation of inputs
In this step, the material used in the print is prepared. The matrices are registered so that the fit is perfect, the colors are tinted/mixed, the squeegees are prepared, etc…
This is when the magic happens: your computer-drawn art turns into something real, printed on a garment. Firstly, you attach the shirts to the cradle of the silk table. Place the canvas in place in the register, which is the perfect fit of the canvas on the table, so you don’t make a mistake and the drawing comes out undocked. Place the paint in a horizontal stripe above the drawing on the canvas.
Take the silk application squeegee and pass it over the screen covering the entire design, applying a certain amount of pressure so that the ink passes through the screen and penetrates the shirt fabric. Repeat the squeegee a few times and remove the canvas without leaving excess paint on the drawing. Use an electric dryer or Flashcure to dry the applied paint. Repeat this application of paint and drying up to 3 times to form a solid film of paint that is not too thick stuck to the fabric. In this way, the paint application lasts longer without cracking or detachment.
7th Drying and curing of paints
Pre-drying prints is generally done with thermal blowers and flash cure. Water-based paints cure at room temperature, whereas plastisols require curing in ovens.
8th Cleaning of equipment.
Finally, the dies and squeegees are cleaned so that they are in perfect condition for the next use.
Screen printing processes and equipment are very varied, and the perfect execution of them all is what will determine the quality of the service. If you have the opportunity, go visit a screen printing company to learn about its dynamics and workflow, which will be an enriching experience for your design career.