Screen printing is popular in both fine arts and commercial printing. For commercial printing purposes the images are printed on posters, CDs, DVDs, t-shirts, hats, ceramics, glass, wood, etc.
This process is more versatile compared to the conventional printing techniques. Because, the surface does not have to be printed under any pressure unlike techniques of etching or lithography, also it doesn't have to be planar.
Screen printing can be done with a variety of materials and because it is versatile of all the printing processes, it is used my many people at home or in a small studio to make printed materials.
The rudimentary materials are very affordable and easily available, hence, this process is used in many underground settings and subcultures to make many DIY projects, which can be making of movie posters, record album covers, t-shirts, flyer's, commercial fonts in advertising, and other artwork.
It consists of three main elements which is the image carrier, the ink, and the squeegee. This process uses a porous mesh which is stretched tightly over a frame which is made of either wood or metal.
Proper tension is important for accurate color registration. Then a stencil is produced on the screen, which can be done either manually or photochemically. This way the stencil defines the image that is to be printed in other printing technologies, which would be referred as the image plate.
Then the ink is applied to the substrate by placing the screen over the material. This way ink in forced into the fine mesh opening with the help of a squeegee, by applying pressure. This forces the ink through the open areas where no stencil is applied, which allows to form an image on the printing substrate. This is what happens in this process.
Here are the steps involved in making a printed t-shirt using screen printing.
- The first step is to create your artwork that you want to get printed using this process.
- Then an output film is made, which is created to use the screen.
- Then the art is checked for detail and the quality and then finally approved.
- Then the screen is coated with a photosensitive emulsion.
- After the screen dries, it is placed on a vacuum light table, then it is exposed to a high watt metal halide light.
- As the screen is being exposed, it is washed out with a pressure washer. After the image is washed out, it is rechecked with the films for accuracy.
Screen printing is a highly developed printing process. To get the best accuracy of an artwork, art department and technical professionals maintain quality standards. They check the artwork, the colors, and the type of ink used.
There are also three types of screen printing presses - the cylinder, rotatory, and the most commonly used flat bed type. If you wish to get some artwork printed to personalize a t-shirt or a cup, then contact the studios who specialize in this kind of work to customize such items.