The screen printing process is a very old method of printing apparel, but it’s still one of the best methods for achieving the highest quality print. At Brooks, we think of the screen printing process as more than just a method, but as an art. We take pride in the details and we have learned how to deliver quality prints every time.
So how does it work?
The high level view is simple. The screen printing process involves some ink, a screen with artwork, and some type of apparel. It all starts at the computer where our design team creates the artwork. Once we have approved designs, we print that artwork onto film – we call this a film positive. If your artwork has multiple colors, we print one film for every color.
While our designers were creating the artwork and film positives, our press team was busy preparing screens for use. Before use, a screen must be washed, dried, coated with emulsion and allowed to dry again.
Now that our emulsion coated screens are dry and our film positives are printed, we’re ready to move to the exposure stage. Our press team will choose the appropriate screen (mesh count, mesh size, screen size, etc.) for the job and place one film positive on one screen. From there, they place the screens, one at a time, on an exposure table and subject the screen to intense uv light for a specific period of time.
The uv light reacts with the emulsion, causing it to cure. However, the film positive blocks out portions of the emulsion from being exposed to the light. Once exposure is finished, the screens are taken to the wash bay where our team will wash the unexposed emulsion out of the screens. The unexposed areas are washed out and will now allow ink to pass through the screen to transfer the design to the apparel. That’s how we end up with artwork on a screen.
Now that we have a press ready screen, it’s time to set up the job on one of our printing units. Once our press team has the screen secured on the machine and lined up to the platen, they print a couple of test shirts to insure the final print is exactly what it should be. Once we approve the test prints, we move forward with printing the rest of your awesome order!
One of the biggest benefits of the screen printing process is that it allows us to print on more than just shirts. The process of pushing ink through a screen onto a sub straight allows us to print on virtually any surface as long as the surface is flat. Many people think of shirts by default when they think of screen printing, but the possibilities go well beyond that. Here’s a short list of what can be printed – tote bags/purses, jackets, mouse pads, flags, banners, signs, bandanas, hats, pants and more.
Another benefit of screen printing is the ability to manipulate the process to achieve the results you want. We understand the relationships between the various inks, shirt materials, and shirt colors – this allows us to help you achieve the exact look you’re after. Looking for a more vintage style print? We’ve got you covered. Want something super soft? We can make it happen.
Ready to start your next print order but unsure what shirt to choose? We’ve written an article about the top 3 shirts we recommend to help you decide what shirt is best for you. Read more >