What is Screen Printing?


With screen printing, you’ll be able to create eye-catching canvases and posters, as well as clothes and other things that are one-of-a-kind because of their versatility. Screen printing and silk screen printing are the topics we’ll explore in this tutorial.

Screen Printing Definition

In screen printing, a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee are used to transfer a stenciled pattern to a flat surface. It is possible to screen-print on various other materials in addition to fabric and paper using special inks. Drawing a stencil on a mesh screen then pressing ink or paint through it is easiest to print.

Even while the printing technique remains the same, the stencil is formed differently depending on the materials used. Silk screening, or screen printing, has been referred to as “silk screening.”

It is possible to create designs with screen printing that employ just one color of ink or a combination of numerous colors. There must be stencils for each color to apply several colors to the same thing at the same time.

Silk Screen Printing vs. Screen Printing

T-shirts are made using a variety of processes, including screen printing and heat pressing. The question remains, however, whether screen printing and silk screening are the same things.

Basically, YES; there is no difference. Silk screening and screen printing both refer to the same process, but screen printing is just the more recent phrase. It’s critical to know the differences between heat pressing and this process if you’re looking to create custom garments for your business or group.

The Technology of Screen Printing

To print on fabrics, screens, which are made of permeable mesh stretched across a rigid frame, are used in both silk printing and industrial silk printing processes. It’s possible to print quickly and at high quality using this approach, but setting up the screen is time-consuming and costly, and the savings only come from using the same screen for several print runs.

Digital screen printing can be done with as little as one unit. The costs remain reasonable thanks to digital silk printing’s advantages over conventional printing.

The fabric is first treated with a solution before being printed with digital ink, which ensures that the ink sticks to the surface effectively. Acetic acid is often used as a “primer” in this solution.

Since the fabric’s surface has been prepared for it, ink for four-color textile printing may now be applied to the fabric’s surface. Hot air is then used to dry the cloth.

Transferring the design or pattern to the silk printer is done straight from the computer. By not having to make a screen, this new technology lets customers change the pattern that is printed on each piece of clothing as it goes through the machine.

How to Screen Printing

To begin, you’ll need a stencil (or template) of some kind. In addition, you’ll need a mesh that can keep the stencil in place.

In most cases, the mesh is constructed from synthetic materials such as nylon. The mesh needs to go through a preprocess before the printing can begin. A region of mesh that is similar to the design should be achieved here.

Once the ink has been spilled over the mesh, use a squeegee to push it into place and ensure that the whole surface is covered. Make sure that your design is duplicated on the t-shirt using this technique. There is no need to be alarmed if there is a little extra ink on the paper.

Your design will finally come to life after the screen has been removed and the paint has dried.

Although this process produces excellent results, it may not be appropriate for all printing tasks. You may use the same stencil several times if you need to make a huge number of the same shirts. This is the most common way of producing large quantities of shirts for large corporations.

The approach is best suited for a single color per display. Besides being able to print in a lot of different colors, this screen printing printer can also make very detailed patterns.

Types of Screen Printing

Flatbed Screen Printing

Large silk screens for each color in a pattern are developed and printed one at a time on a long flat printing table, which is spread out on the cloth. A squeegee is used to apply the color to the cloth by pushing it through the mesh.

Cylinder Screen Printing

When it comes to ultra-thin substrates, cylindrical systems are still a better fit than flatbed systems, although today “s completely electronic cylinder systems are far better at handling substrates that are less than 12 microns thick.

Newer systems include electronic controls that let you adjust for things like real material thickness and print stretch while printing is taking place. Screen production has also been made easier as a result of the enhanced, completely electronic cylinder systems’ increased flexibility in accommodating different screen and material thicknesses.

As a result, the flat printing table design cannot sufficiently support thin materials under 50 microns in thickness, and as a result, they strain. A cylinder printing table design, on the other hand, supports the material on vacuum cylinders. Substrates that are more than 50 microns thick don’t need any extra support and can be handled in either cylinder or flatbed setups just as well.

Rotary Screen Printing

Continuous printing in the length direction is possible with rotary screen printing machines’ roll-shaped screens. Flatbed screen printing is a good analogy for this process. Print heads, dryers, and fixation equipment are all included in both screen printing systems, which contain metering systems to manage the amount of dye paste being fed into the printing process, as well as a revolving blanket on which the fabric is “tacked” to avoid distortion of length and breadth.

Types of Screen Printing Process

Spot Color Screen Printing 

The screen printing printer’s greatest buddy, spot color, is the industry’s most prevalent printing process. For a silk printer, mastery of spot colors—how they are created, applied, and handled—is a need. Spot colors are particularly good at recreating logos, typography, cartoons, and line art.

Vector graphics applications like CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator are often used to produce spot color designs. Spot colors may be created using a variety of applications. It is possible to print spot colors (such as Pantone or custom blended) at 100% tint or halftones by altering their tint value.

Halftone Printing

Halftone is a printing process that uses dots of varied size, shape, or spacing to create a continuous tone picture. Halftone pictures depend on a simple optical illusion in order for the human eye to perceive the print’s halftone dots as tones and gradients when seen from a particular distance. The most common use of halftone printing is in newspapers, where images are often printed using this method.

Grayscale Printing

By employing a wide range of grays to depict color and light fluctuations, grayscale printing allows you to reproduce color photographs as high-quality black and white images. Almost all of the colors in a picture must be altered since a black-and-white printer’s gamut is so much less than a color silk printer.

Duotone Printing

Multiple inks may be used to create multitone printing, which is referred to as duotone. Special inks must be used instead of regular CMYK inks for process color printing in order for this technique to work. Typically, pictures are printed with a dark base color and a lighter second color, overprinted to fill in, tint, and tone the photo or design.

CMYK Printing

Printing in CMYK is the most traditional way of reproducing color. Screen printers may use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to print graphics on white or light-colored clothes.

Light-colored clothes may still be printed using CMYK file preparation, Photoshop, and screen generation by experienced users. Since computer-generated printing is now so prevalent, CMYK printing is becoming less common.

Simulated Printing

All images on the market may be reproduced using the simulated process approach. When employing halftones, spot colors, and/or PMS colors, it overlaps and blends colors in a manner similar to CMYK. Basically, it’s a means of taking an image that would have traditionally been printed using CMYK but instead employs more opaque ink to generate a more stable color and production-friendly ink that can print practically any design on any kind of garment.

Graphics too complicated for a vector program, including raster pictures, photos from the camera, and photographs with many tones, may all be handled using Simulated Process’s powerful modeling capabilities.

To date, simulated process printing has been more commonly recognized than CMYK printing since it’s simpler to separate, print, and produce the finest finished garments. There are fewer misprints while using the simulated process. It’s the printing technique of choice for separations.

Before establishing a new process in their business, a silk printer should extensively investigate and practice the procedure. Investigate your options by going online. There are communities like Rogue Printers on Facebook where silk printers may appeal for assistance. Another excellent resource for learning more about the procedure is YouTube. Freelancers that specialize in separations may assist you if you don’t have the time or resources to learn more about them.

Application for Screen Printing

In comparison to other printing methods, screen printing is more adaptable since it may be used on materials of any form, size, or thickness. Because of this, silk printing is used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Decals and stickers
  • Products labels
  • Displays
  • Merchandise
  • Designs on clothing
  • Medical devices
  • Sports products
  • Textile fabric designs
  • Balloon
  • Signage

Pros and Cons of Screen Printing


  • Printing Materials Adaptability

It’s hard to beat the adaptability of screen printing. As long as it’s flat, you can print on just about anything. Plastic, metal, and wood are just a handful of the materials that may be used to convert your design into signage, office supplies, and much more!

It’s also a favorite among those who want to make personalized t-shirts and those who want to print on cloth. When it comes to the shape of the product, screen printing is very flexible. This makes it easier to make prints on more unusually shaped things.

Why not discover what else may be created in this manner? Investigate the uses for screen printing.

  • Best for a Minimalist Design

Screen printing is the best option if you want to print a basic design or text. Silk printing is perfect for printing logos, business names, or images that aren’t dependent on photography, so it’s a good option for those kinds of projects. Screen printing is also a great option for creating gradients, and the result is a sharp, clear design.

Screen printing has the advantage of lowering production costs as you add additional goods to the mix. Once you’ve got your design ready, screen printing may be set up and ready to go in a matter of minutes! In contrast to other techniques like digital printing, which are generally supplied at a set charge, this is perfect if you need to brand a large number of things.

  • Durability

The dense layers of ink used in screen printing are absorbed by the material, making them more durable, particularly when a product is exposed to direct sunlight, which may degrade digital prints.


  • It requires a large volume of printing.

Screen printing is perfect for high-volume goods, but it isn’t as cost-effective if you simply need to print a few pieces. Low-quantity printing may not save you money because of the time and effort required to set up the printing process. Depending on the screen printing printer, you may have a restriction on the number of copies you may order.

  • Time for preparation

In addition to being more time-consuming to set up than other printing technologies such as digital or heat press, silk printing necessitates a longer lead time. Once the design is scanned into the screen, the ink is then applied to the print medium in a process known as “screen printing.” For each color or form in your design, you’ll need a separate screen. Screen printing materials are essential while using this approach.

  • Only a Few Colors

A large spectrum of colors or photography-based designs can’t be achieved using screen printing since the technique is too time-consuming. Spot colors can be used to make very specific gradients and hues, but this is not always the case.

If you have a limited number of colors to choose from, you should contact your print supplier for guidance on how your design could be impacted in terms of color.

Final Thoughts

Specializing in fabrics, metal panels, vinyl stickers, and polypropylene wallets and binders, silk printing is an excellent option for many different types of printed goods. A metallic sheen may be achieved via the use of this printing method.

There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to each printing process, and your choice should be based on the nature of your project and the design you’re trying to produce.

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