Screen Printing 101: What It Is and Why It Matters

Our screen printing Raleigh NC services sees a lot of brisk business, from school teams looking for unique sports apparel to start-up companies eyeing uniforms for their local employees.

But wait a minute, what exactly is screen printing and how can it help you?

What is screen printing?

Screen printing, aka silk screen printing, involves using a fine mesh screen stretched flat across a solid frame. Printers like us take sheets of plastic, cut out holes in the design our clients want and lay the resulting sheets on top of the mesh screen. The printers then take the surfaces where the design is to be printed on and lay them flat underneath the mesh screen. Some ink is poured on a section of the plastic while a squeegee is used to spread that ink evenly across the screen.

The ink will seep through the holes cut out on the plastic sheet, coloring the material underneath in the shape of the patterns that were cut out. Screen printing can also create more elaborate designs with multiple patterns and brilliant color combinations. All it takes is multiple plastic sheets, a mix of colored inks and a skilled printer to make the magic happen.

What is screen printing good for?

Screen printing is best used for printing large quantities of designs on flat surfaces, with garments most commonly used in this situation. This is ideal for those looking to use low-cost t-shirts and sweatshirts for team uniforms or promotional materials. Screen printing is also an ideal low-cost choice for printing fancier pieces of documents like higher-end brochures and wedding invitations. Even larger designs should cost only around 50 cents to a dollar per piece.

A skilled printer can even create veritable works of art. Multiple colors can be layered on top of each other, creating unique and colorful designs using nothing more than a screen and some ink. This is a great option for those that want to create a great design without having to fork over the money required in more elaborate embroidery jobs.

All in all, screen printing is the single most cost-effective method of printing graphics en masse. This is the foremost reason why people pick out screen printing in the first place.

The limitations of screen printing

Now it is important to note that screen printing itself is not perfect and that it has its own limitations. It cannot be used when the surface has any kind of elevation on it. Seams, buttons, zippers and embroideries will interfere with the pattern. It is also not practical to use screen printing for smaller orders. The screen charges and setup fees are cost effective for 15 items or more, but the cost effectiveness of screen printing goes down the fewer items you need printed. Another limitation is that you cannot use an infinite number of colors. A skilled screen printer can work with around six to eight colors at a time, but the thickness of the paint tends to build up after further coatings.

Keep all this in mind the next time you’re in need of shirts and designs and you’ll know just what screen printing has to offer!

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