Printing artistic graphics on t-shirts is a common fad these days, not just in the United States but also worldwide. Personalized clothing offers endless potential for creativity, with a wide range of patterns and color combinations available. Also, more methods of shirt printing, like screen and sublimation, increase in prominence, owing to more advances in technology.
Printing a one-of-a-kind artwork on a tee is a fun and engaging activity. Individuals enjoy the concept of customizing their t-shirts with any design they choose for whatever cause. In addition, businesses, institutions, sports clubs, and even individual folks like to design original text and images on their clothes.
However, for shirt printers and designers, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to printing graphics on every piece of clothing. A printing technique, for instance, could be inexpensive yet restrictive in terms of the garments it can imprint on. Therefore, finding the best shirt printing method for your needs may depend on different factors.
Different Methods for Shirt Printing
You might like to determine which printing technique is best to utilize before making that personalized tee. There are many factors in t-shirt printing, and practically everything depends on whatever process you select. Therefore, it’s critical to know some of the most prevalent print procedures and which ones are ideal for your demands.
Silkscreen, heat press, and direct to garment (DTG) printing are the three of the most common t-shirt printing technologies. Moreover, other shirt printing methods that are gaining popularity nowadays include dye sublimation and vinyl cutting. Although each printing technique has its benefits and applications, screen printing is perhaps the most prominent and commonly used.
Before deciding on the ideal approach for printing your t-shirt, you must first comprehend your own and your clients’ needs. The quantity of orders placed is also a good indicator of the best shirt printing method to choose. It is best to get guidance from professional printing companies to get a trustworthy and exceptional finish for your shirt.
What Is Screen Printing
The most common process used by commercial printers is screen printing, also often referred to as silkscreen printing. It is the method of pushing ink- whether plastisol or water-based- through a stenciled silkscreen to produce an imprinted image. It’s been around for several hundred years, dating back to ancient China, and its fame has only risen over time.
The fact that screen printing generates a high-quality output is among the main reasons it’s the favorite t-shirt printing process. It produces superior, enduring prints, although it is best suited to designs with more straightforward color combinations. Many customers choose the screen printing approach because it offers a clean, original, attractive, and spectacular look on a shirt.
A gallon of textile paint can print hundreds of t-shirts (depending on the design size), making this process incredibly economical. Thus, several manufacturers use silkscreen shirt printing for bulk production, such as company uniforms and corporate activity tees. Most experts also regard screen printing as arguably the most adaptable among all available printing techniques.
How Screen Printing Works
There are various approaches available to screen printing; however, they all entail an initial and fundamental procedure. The most popular type of silkscreen printing involves creating a unique stencil with a unique solution sensitive to light. Here are the standard procedures and other factors that influence an excellent screen print result:
Every screen printing begins with design, whether you create it personally or have it made by a professional screen printer. Generally, the higher the accuracy of the original artwork, the clearer the quality of the shirt print. As such, it will be best to ensure that the graphics have high resolution and excellent details.
In most instances, screen prints are best for images with very few colors and made in vector format. If the image has more than one color, you’ll need a color separation technique to minimize the screen it requires. This way, you may need only four screens since the image is developed and divided into four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).
After finishing the design and separating the colors, the next step is to make a film positive. Here, the graphic is prepared onto an acetate film and then used to develop the stencil.
Preparing the Screen
It’s time to start making the silkscreen frame after you’ve processed the design on the films. A screen printing framework is a wood or aluminum structure with a polyester mesh laid across it. Pushing the picture with a squeegee over the screen maintains the design in its place while allowing ink to transfer.
The printer must choose the appropriate mesh count based on the design’s form and structure and the fabric’s quality. After its preparation, the photo emulsion is applied to the mesh screen to produce the backdrop. It should be allowed to cure in a cold, dimly lit area to make the photosensitive emulsion operate effectively.
The screen sections not contained in the graphic become solid after the silkscreen exposure for a certain amount of time. It creates the stencil by sealing off portions of the screen in the design’s negative, resulting in a design pattern. This method leaves a precise impression of the design on the screen, allowing the ink to transfer through effortlessly.
Screen Printing Press Setup
You’ll have to move up the screens on your screen printing machine before you can begin screen printing t-shirts. A screen printing press comprised of a foundation that keeps printing boards and several color arms. It also comes in different sizes with different numbers baseboards in which to place the shirts for printing.
Although manual and mechanical presses are available in the market, most current professional printers today employ an automated rotating printer. This type of printer is also applicable for printing the distinct color layers in rapid sequence for colorful pictures. The more arms presses have, the more colors they can print successively, and the more presses, the quicker the production.
It’s best to tape off the frame’s corners with packaging tape before clamping them into the screen printing machine. It prevents the water-based ink from squeezing into the sides and leaking into areas it should not. It also helps avoid any damages to the shirt, especially since the paints are permanent and thus challenging to erase.
Screen Printing the Shirts
It’s finally time to begin the printing phase once the graphic, screen, and printer are complete and ready. Place the t-shirt onto the press- ensuring the board has adhesives to affix the garment- and position the printhead. Be careful with loading the screen with ink before securing the print head into position over the garment.
After lowering the screen onto the printing press, you can apply paint to the screen’s upper edge. Next, drag or slide the textile ink across the screen to transfer it onto the clothing after securing the printhead. And, through the use of a squeegee, you can uniformly disseminate the ink throughout the canvas.
When printing numerous pieces, you can lift the screen and then set a new garment on the printing board. According to the amount of ink applied, you may require more than one round, and the process repeats with the remaining colors. The emulsion could then be washed away and reused to make a fresh stencil after it’s finished.
Drying and Curing the Shirt
Lastly, the printed clothing will pass through a heater or dryer to set plastisol ink and achieve a finished look. The fabric must be heat dried after printing to guarantee that the design is secured and stays in place. It’s also essential to cure plastisol and water-based ink properly to keep it from fading and deteriorating with every wash.
To effectively bind the ink with the fabric, the print must reach a specified temperature while curing. The curing temperature for inks may vary, so it’s best to check the manufacturer’s directions for the correct cure temperature. The finished result will then be properly inspected and washed to eliminate any residue or undesired inks.
Advantages of Screen Printing
Silkscreen printing is a dynamic technique often used for items susceptible to water, washing, and exposure to the elements. It is also primarily considered the world’s most successful and widely used printing technology applied in various items. For example, many people employ silkscreen printing on shirts and sweaters, handkerchiefs, pillow covers, and even scarves.
With advancements in both apparatus and pigments, the screen printing industry continually improves and responds to consumer demands. Because of these improvements, silkscreen is now the favorite printing option for a range of fabric types. These innovations also resulted in numerous advantages that benefit anyone who uses silkscreen printing.
Screen Printing Is Cost-Efficient
Silkscreen printing is the most cost-effective printing technology, particularly for printing simple designs in large quantities. The cost per unit essentially gets lower as the number of clothes in an order increases. To print using this approach, all you require is a screen containing the design stencil to reuse repetitively.
Screen printing has a lesser initial cost and a greater return on investment than most other contemporary printing processes. It takes fewer resources, and you can guarantee cost-effective output by simply using the amount of ink required, resulting in a minimum loss. You can even perform a reprinting without paying the expense of the initial setup as long as the silkscreen frame is accessible.
Silkscreen Caters to a Wide Range of Materials and Products
Even while screen printing is most commonly synonymous with t-shirt printing, it isn’t easy to find technology with similar flexibility. One of the most impressive features of screen printing is that it is usable on nearly any type of material. It may be done on practically any flat surface, including fabric, paper, and even plastic sheets, to name a few.
You can apply several pigments to produce a multicolored design instead of only one color for silk screen printing. Other alternative silk screen printing methods include puff prints, making the printed area appear slightly thicker with a soft feeling. If you prefer a dazzling or sparkling finish, there are metallic colors, glitter paints, and foil pigments that are available.
Screen Printing Is a Quick Method
Silkscreen often prints quicker than other technologies such as heat-press, sublimation, and digital print, especially with simple, unicolored designs. In addition, expert screen printers typically do the process in batches, with each set involving up to hundreds of garments. As a result, hundreds of shirts can be finished in less than a day by a professional silkscreen print shop.
As stated earlier, printing another batch of the same design is also faster since making another frame will be unnecessary. It allows for a quicker overall process without sacrificing the quality of the results of the initial and succeeding batches. Silkscreen printing is a very reliable method if you need thousands of garments printed rapidly.
Silk Screen Produces Excellent Results
The vivid, dynamic hues and graphics that silkscreen printing can produce are some of the most crucial things to remember. When creating brilliant colors that are difficult to duplicate, silkscreen printing is also unequaled by other methods. Furthermore, using only a few colors, a prominent and sharp picture or logo can be easily created on the design.
Shirts absorb plastisol and water-based ink in silk screen printing more deeply, resulting in sharper images with a soft feeling. Additionally, screen printing pigment can be applied heavier, even on darker hues, culminating in longer-lasting, stronger, and more brilliant tones. It is still the most excellent solution for clothing designs that demands great intensity when printing on darker backgrounds.
Plastisol ink, like water-based pigments, can adhere to the fabric or material, resulting in more permanent and crisp graphics. Drying paints in heat also makes the print resistant to peeling, deteriorating, and fading when washed repeatedly. Pigment additives and treatments can also render the items impervious to UV radiation, abrasion, and moisture, allowing them to persist.
Screen Printing Is the Most Reliable Printing Method
If you require custom clothing for any reason, there is undoubtedly a printing option to meet your needs. Despite the introduction of numerous new printing techniques, screen printing continues to be among the most efficient and advantageous ways. And in the matter of customized screen print designs in different fabric types, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Screen printing produces high-quality shirts ideal for organizations and corporations that want a classic design for their custom shirts. While deciding where to get your needs can be difficult, numerous print shops can provide this service. In addition, a skilled screen print company can create significantly more vibrant colors than other methods.
Screen printing is the most prevalent type of printing for various reasons, including its diversity, reliability, cost-effectiveness, and excellent quality. Furthermore, with the increasing modernization of the inks and technology, the minor disadvantages are now offset. So, if you want high-quality outputs, go to a professional printer to see if screen printing is best for you.