You’ve spent days working on your design, meticulously picked over your colour scheme and feel like you are finally ready to print. Unfortunately, this is a very common, yet understandable, misconception. T-Shirt printing doesn’t finish at the computer, there is a vital step yet to come; what printing technique is best for your customised garments? For many, this is a mystery. The words direct to garment, vinyl and screen printing might sound like a bad headache, mysterious words that you just want to go away. However, the reality is that there is no need to fear, the hours of Google searches trying to understand the Wikipedia pages can be avoided. Luckily for you, here we provide a rundown of one of our preferred printing techniques, screen printing. We’ll explain why this is one of our favourites and why we think that you’ll love it too.
A brief history…
The clothing printing industry has gone through many technological advances. The fact that you can now buy a 3D printed bikini makes 2016 seem like a science fiction novel come to life. However, like the Godfather 1 and the Godfather 3, one of the oldest printing techniques still remains the best.
When thinking about T-Shirt printing techniques, you would not be abnormal if the words China Song Dynasty of 960-1279AD did not come instantly to mind. However, this is where many concur that screen printing began. Fast forward to the 18th Century and screen printing was gaining presence across the globe. Due to the lack of availability of silk mesh, however, it took until the 19th Century for this printing technique to gain considerable popularity. By the 20th century, screen printing was well and truly established and despite it’s ancient history became patented by English man Samuel Simon.
This printing technique was not isolated to the fashion industry and instead became prominent for art. For example, it was the technique that used for much of his work that has retained popularity even 50 years later.
There was a big problem preventing this technique becoming widespread in the fashion industry. Despite the high-quality, essentially, screen printing took a large amount of time. It wasn’t until American entrepreneurs Michael and Fannie Vasilantone founded the textile company Vastex in the 60’s that this was resolved. With the creation of the dual rotator printing press, Michael and Fannie essentially changed the garment printing industry forever. 50 years later this machine is still used in the garment industry, with a vast amount of high-quality fashion brands utilising it in their garment printing production.
How it works…
Despite technological advances and optimisation, the actual technique used in screen printing remains the same. The technique can be performed in both manual and automated versions, so it is no surprise that it’s used both professionally and also at home by designers.
Now, although we’re passionate about the screen printing technique, it’s understandable that many of you aren’t so enthusiastic to learn each scrupulous detail. So, here we will provide a very brief overview and diagram of what’s involved.
Screen printing firstly requires making a screen to act as a stencil for a particular design. Essentially, this screen consists of a stretched across a frame coated with UV sensitive emulsion. Special lighting is then used to solidify the chemicals around the design. Essentially, the light hits the required design and the chemicals around the other areas are broken down. Next, the actual garment comes into play. Say you are printing on a T-Shirt, the T-Shirt is then placed on the screen and the ink is pushed through the screen and onto the garment using a squeegee or a fill blade. Lastly, the screen is carefully removed and your customised T-Shirt is finally ready.
Why Screen Print?
While the history of the process of screen printing are interesting for some, for many people who are thinking of creating their own customised garment the most important piece of information is why screen printing is a good technique to use.
One of the best features of screen printing is the fact that it can be used to create incredibly high-quality designs. The technique allows for extremely vibrant colours of high-colour accuracy, meaning that it’s a perfect way of making your logo stand out in the crowd. This quality is hard to replicate with other printing techniques. For example, other techniques such as direct to garment printing which uses four different colour ink types in dots to create a particular image produces inferior finishes. In contract, the quality of screen printing means intricate details will appear of a high-standard, even allowing photographs to be printed clearly.
Screen printing also triumphs in the fact that it provides a long-lasting, durable print. The composition of the ink used and the technique itself means the ink forms a strong, hard-wearing bond to the material. This means the printed design retains it’s high-quality throughout washes and wear and tear. This is a great option for businesses who want their logo to stand out for a long time, a great cost-effective way of creating long-lasting uniforms for example.
One of the most popular garments to print on are T-Shirts, however, let’s face it, sometimes you just want to print on a flip flop. One of the most impressive aspects of screen printing is the fact that it allows you to print on pretty much anything. Plastic, cotton, metal, glass, wood, or three-dimensional products, screen printing can be used on all of these. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dark black T-Shirt you want a logo printing on or a white cap, screen printing can achieve high-quality results on a vast variety of materials of different shapes and sizes.
Unfortunately, for single and small orders, screen printing can be a little more expensive than other printing techniques. This is ultimately due to the fact that involves much more preparation. Screens have to be created for each colour in the design and essentially more time is involved. However, for companies wishing to order in bulk, screen printing is the perfect option. The more products you require, the cheaper the total cost will be. For example, here at Garment Printing, prices can be as little as 15p per T-Shirt.
So it’s pretty clear that screen printing is an impressive technique. It’s a great option for anyone wishing to create stand out customised products that are sure to look good and last a long time. Now you’ve learnt the history, the techniques and become a screen printing pro, all that’s left to do is decide what you want to print.