In Creative, Education, Lifestyle

What is screen printing?

Screen printing, serigraphy, serigraph printing: it all means the same. Let’s only use the most general word: screen printing. The shortest definition of screen printing: it is a printing technique. Off course, we can tell you a lot more about screen printing. I don’t know where you live, but from our office, there are several screen printers in the area. However, not every screen printer can offer you the same result. But let’s start from the beginning with a brief history.


From the Song Dynasty until world-wide screen printers

It all began in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). This almost sounded like a fairytale. Back then, the chinese saw the advancements in painting and other forms of artistic expression. First, there was stenciling where humans created hand stencils. The method of screen-printing and stenciling have much in common. The earliest form of artistic expression that evolved into screen-printing can be found on the walls of European caves.

But let’s talk about the present now. How is screen printing actually done in this day and age



Screen printing: how it’s done

Basically, screen printing is a process where a layer of ink is pulled over a screen to produce a design. Let me explain the process with an example. Let’s say we want to print a palm tree on a t-shirt. We have the picture of the palm tree online. The computer makes a film for each colour. This means that we need 2 films: one for the green leaves, and one for the brown tree trunk.

Once the two films are made, it’s time to make the screens. We have 2 films, so we need 2 screens too. With light exposure, the green leaves are captured in the screen. This screen is now ready to be used. We do the same thing for the second screen with the brown tree trunk. Imagine that it’s like taking a photograph.

When the screens are ready, the t-shirts can be printed. There goes ink over the screens, and the ink fills the ‘photographed’ part on the t-shirt. Here, there are only 2 colours that have to be printed. After the printing process, the ink has to dry with the help of a drying-machine.

Whooh, now we have a t-shirt with a palm tree! I explained it really easy, in a non technical way. There are a lot of internet sources that explains the screen printing process more technical and difficult.











How do you recognize quality screen printing?

Not every screen printer can give you the best result. Keep in mind that these things are important for the quality of the screen printing:

  • The expertise of the screen printer

The screen printing itself is done by machines, but preparing the machine is a manual job. Also, the digital example has to be prepared to make the screen and the foil. That’s why it’s important that you choose a screen printer with a lot of experience. You can do screen printing yourself, just search it on YouTube. And send us the pictures of the result please  

  • The screen printing press

There are a lot of different machines, you can choose between a manual press or an automatic press. And then there are a lot of different brands. We work with automatic presses to produce faster.

  • The textile

The print will be crappy if you choose bad-quality textile. We advise you to choose for organic cotton t-shirts or textile with a high percentage of cotton. Read the article about coloured cotton if you want to find out more about it. Also, there has to be an underlayer if you want to print on coloured or black textile. Without this underlayer, the print will wash off after a few times.

  • Water Based Ink

We prefer to use water based ink to have the best result. Water based ink is friendly to the environment, stays longer wet in the screen and requires little chemicals for the cleaning. This ink requires technical expertise. Another option is plastisol based Ink. This ink was the most common choice for a long time because water based ink is more difficult to use. This means that expertise is needed for water based ink.


Benefits of screen printing

The biggest advantage of screen printing is the fact that pantone colours of your design can be matched. Secondly, the coating on dark colours is perfect, it’s like a thin layer on your textile. If you print white on black textile for example, it will be perfectly white. Also, there are special decoration techniques possible: gold, glitter, glow in the dark, gelprint, and so on. Curious about the possible decoration techniques, or do you need some inspiration? I really recommend you to check out this webpage about the decoration techniques.

There are many possibilities to do screen printing, almost every design is possible. However, if the design has too many details, it will be difficult. Also when the design has gradients, it’s not possible to do screen printing. That case, we offer you the possibility to print spot colour separation. Read more about this technique in this article.


What does it cost?

The prize of screen printing depends on the colours. One colour at a time is applied, so the cost will increase with each additional colour. There is also the fixed cost of the screens, they always have to be made. The film can be reused, so you only pay once to make the film, and it can be reused.

Do you still have questions about screen printing? Don’t hesitate contacting us, we are happy to explain you everything. Also, watch the movie below, you will definitely understand the whole picture if you actually can see the process of screen printing.

4 color screen print


Do you need personal advice for your needs? Contact our expertised team, they are happy to help you.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Ridley Fitzgerald

    It’s good to learn about screen printing. I didn’t realize that screen printing had so much manual work that went into it. We want to get a huge order of shirts for our family party, so I’ll be sure to find someone with experience!

  • Hannah Schroeder

    I didn’t know that the preparation for screen printing has to be done manually. My sister wants to have t-shirts made for her daughter’s 16th birthday party, and she wants to use a custom design for them. If she can find a custom screen printing service, I bet they’ll prepare the shirts by hand so they come out perfectly.

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