How Does Screen Printing Work?
Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is a popular method of printing designs on various surfaces, including fabric, paper, plastic, and metal. It involves using a mesh screen to transfer ink onto the surface being printed. Here's how screen printing works in more detail:
Step 1: Creating the Design
The first step in screen printing is to create a design, either by hand or using design software. The design is then transferred onto a transparent film and burned onto an emulsion-coated mesh screen. The screen is exposed to UV light, causing the emulsion to harden and create a stencil of the design.
Step 2: Preparing the Screen
The screen is then mounted onto a printing press, and the screen is taped to block ink from entering the edges of the screen. The screen is aligned with the garment to be printed on.
Step 3: Applying the Ink
Once the screen is prepared, ink is poured onto the stencil and spread across the screen using a squeegee. The ink is forced through the mesh screen and onto the surface being printed, creating the design.
Step 4: Curing the Print
After the ink is applied, the printed material is cured using either a heat gun, heat press, flash unit, or conveyor dryer. If water-based ink is used, a chemical drying agent called Warp Drive can be added to air-dry the water-based ink over a 48-hour period. This ensures that the print is durable and long-lasting.
Step 5: Repeating the Process
For multi-color designs, the process is repeated using a new screen for each color. The screens are aligned and registered to ensure that each color is applied in the correct location and with proper registration.
Screen printing is a versatile and cost-effective method of printing that can be used to produce high-quality designs on a variety of surfaces. By understanding how screen printing works, you can appreciate the skill and craftsmanship that goes into creating each printed item.