When a layer of ink is applied over a screen in order to produce a design, it is known as screen printing. Each end result requires a specific design to be made and this method of printing has multiple uses. Screen printing has seen it’s popularity soar in recent years because it’s a cost friendly method of printing while there are an increasing number of applications for this form of printing. Essentially, any surface that is flat can be used for printing. Not only can screen printing be done on a wide variety of surfaces, but it also allows you to use a range of printing materials, which means the creative possibilities are endless.
The technique of screen printing was first invented by the Chinese approximately 2000 years ago. They stretched human hair across a wooden frame, forming a screen. On this, a stencil made of leaves was attached, stuck on in different shapes. In later years, the Japanese used the same process, but using woven silk to make the mesh while lacquer replaced leaves to make the stencil. In fact, the silk screen printing machine gets it’s name from the Japanese use of silk in screen printing all those years ago!
In 1907 Samuel Simon was the first man to patent the first industrial screen printing process. Today, thanks to technology, the process of screen printing has become far more advanced than the original methods and screen printing is commonly used for printing a wide range of objects including tee shirts, printed fabrics, signage, promotional products and much more. Even the dial on your watch has been screen printed.
How Does Screen Printing Work?
The screen printing process actually begins with the artwork. The quality and uniqueness of the final work will depend on the art. This is also the stage where you get to decide the number of colors of ink that you will use and where each color will go. More colors used means more cost and more time consumed because each color will require its own unique screen. Once you are done creating the screen, the next part of the printing process is to line up the printed material on the object you want to print on. The printed material must be lined up correctly before the ink is forced via the opening in the mesh to print the design to the material with an aid of an ink or else the design won’t be aligned correctly.
What is Spot Color, CMYK (Four Color Process) and Simulated Process?
Spot Color designs are usually created through the use of vector graphics programs such as CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator. There are many programs that can create spot colors. Spot colors (such as Pantone or custom mixed) can be printed as solid shapes at 100% tint or halftones by changing their tint value away from 100%. This is the most common print process in the industry, and has sometimes been called the screen printers best friend. Knowledge of creating, applying and handling spot colors is essential to any screen printer. Logos, text, cartoons, line art, and more are all styles spot colors excel at reproducing.
Four Color Process printing, also known as CMYK, essentially performs the same way that your ink jet printer does, blending the four colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) to produce full color images as opposed to spot color images. Four Color Process with water based inks is best when printed on white or very light colored shirts and does not work well on dark shirts. For full color images on dark shirts, we recommend Simulated Process printing.
Simulated Process printing is like Four Color Process on steroids and is capable of producing very photo-realistic images with a high amount of detail. It uses traditional spot colors, yet blends them in a four-color process manner, simulating full color images. This process works very well on both light and dark colored garments. The ink color count for simulated process jobs are often in the five to ten color range, therefore making it the best process for higher quantity runs.
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