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Here’s a quick look at how the process of screen printing custom T-shirts works:
- Preparation Of Artwork: Screen printing requires high-resolution artwork to work with so we can separate the art into different layers and channels. This allows us to print separate colors and designs on film.
- Burning The Design: Otherwise known as screen exposure, this involves placing the film between a sheet of glass of an exposure unit and the silkscreen. An emulsion is applied to the screen before the exposure process. Light is passed through the glass and once it hits the emulsion for a certain length of time, the emulsion hardens. The image area on the film is black and will block the light from hitting the emulsion in those areas. After exposure, the screens are taken to a washout booth where the water will wash out the soft areas that the light did not expose. We are left with a stencil of the image on the screen. The ink will pass through the open areas of the stencil.
- Registration: The screens now have a stencil of the design imprinted on them so they are ready to be set on a press. The next step is known as registration, where each screen is lined up for printing.
- Ink Application: Ink is applied to each screen to achieve certain colors. Appropriate color matching is critical at this stage.
- Printing: The materials are now ready for the printing stage, which usually takes place on a carousel that spins and applies ink. The ink is applied using a squeegee on a manual press.