Creating Custom T-Shirts: How Does Screen Printing Work?

If you’ve ever designed a customized t-shirt or talked to an art student, you’ve probably heard of screen printing. Most of us have the general fuzzy idea that it has something to do with paint and maybe silk somewhere. But what exactly is involved in the screen printing process?

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how screen printing works, read on to learn more about the process.

The Screen Part

As you may have guessed from the name, screen printing involves, well, a screen. When the technique was first invented, this screen was made of silk. If you’ve heard the technique called silk screening, that’s why; these days, screens are made of polyester.

The screen creates a fine mesh that paint can pass through, but only in certain areas. When you start making the screen for a print job, you create a negative of your image on the screen and block off some of the holes in the mesh. This creates a sort of stencil in the shape of your design.

Making the Colors

Once your screen stencil is ready to go, it’s time to bust out the paints. If you get your screen printing done in a professional shop, they will spend a lot of time making sure the colors exactly match those on your design. This will involve a lot of mixing and testing the paint on the specific material and color you’re getting printed.

If your design has more than one color, the process will use more than one stencil and paint layer. For example, if you have a Venn diagram that has blue and yellow circles overlapping to make green, the first screen will print only the first circle in blue. The second screen will print the full second circle in yellow, creating both the yellow circle and the green portion in the middle.

Printing and Drying 

Once all the paint and screens are ready, it’s time to begin the printing process! Each piece to be printed gets lined up and then has a screen placed on top of it. The paint for that layer gets pushed through the screen with a scraper, landing on the t-shirt in the specific pattern the stencil allows. 

When the painting process is done and all the layers have been applied, the pieces get dried to cure the paint. If you’re doing this at home, it may mean sending your piece for a tumble in the dryer. But at larger commercial factories, they have special drying rollers they put pieces through to set the paint.

Get the Best Screen Printing

Screen printing is a great way to produce custom t-shirts, bags, or any other fabric material, especially if you want a bunch of the same product. It’s a fascinating way of creating patterns, and the process is mesmerizing to watch. If you haven’t, we recommend you check out some YouTube videos that show the screen printing process.

If you’d like to get screen-printed goods, reach out to us at Palmetto Blended. We are a well-renowned name in printing services and will get you products that are sure to thrill. Contact us today to get started on your next project.

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