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What is screen printing?

Screen Printing is a printing method or technique in which a combination of Woven-mesh (screen), Inks, Squeegee and Press machines are used to print the desired artwork directly on the materials (substrates) just by passing the inks through a Stencil made in the mesh or screen.

An ink-blocking stencil is made into the woven mesh and this stencil forms the open areas of the mesh that helps to transfer the inks and other printable materials which can be pressed through the woven mesh as a sharp edged or vector picture onto the any suitable substrate. To pass the inks or other printable materials through mesh to the substrate a roller or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil.

What are the applications of screen printing?

The most flexible method of all the printing processes is the screen printing. It can be used to print almost a wide range of substrates like plastics, papers, fabrics, glass, acrylic, cotton, metals, wood, paperboard and ceramic materials and many more. The flexibility of screen printing is the reason that the press can print on almost any shape, size and thickness of the substrates.

The most regular products of silk screen printing are the signage, gifts and promotional, apparels decoration, takeaways, T shirts printing, electronic circuit boards and textiles etc.

Silk screen printing process has reached to its maturity stage with the developments of automated rotating or curved screen printing presses, metal inks, UV treatable inks, and the advanced dryers etc.  also the quality improvements in the other printing consumables used in screen reclamation like emulsions, screen washing chemicals, solvents and inks, caustics and oxidizers etc has increased the rate of utilization of silk screen printing process and the production have been increased.

What are the advantages of screen printing over the other printing processes or the other apparel decorative methods?

The other printing processes for example sublimation printing needs the substrates to be coated for accepting the inks through the heat presses but the silk screen printing  has got the advantage of printing capability on almost all items or substrates of any shape, thickness and size.

Another considerable feature of the silk screen printing is that a greater thickness of the ink can be applied to the materials when compared with other printing processes. This unique feature allows “silk screen printing” to give some interesting effects to the substrates. The other advantage includes the simple applying method, wider range of inks and dyes availability etc.

However, as every printing technique have its own pros and cons. The same way, silk screen technique has some disadvantages like it needs trained and technical operators, not good for small quantity, and not good for multiple colors and pictures.

Screen Printing Process Overview:

  • The silk Screen printing mainly consists of six elements:
  • The Design: the design or the artwork which is to be printed onto the substrate.
  • The Substrate: the substrate on which the artwork has to be printed.
  • The Screen: This is the image carrier through which the inks are passed onto the substrate.
  • The Squeegee: This is the element by the help of which ink is pressed over the screen and passed to the substrate.
  • The Ink: to print the required artwork
  • The Press Machine:  to keep the material for printing.  A flatbed machine helps the inks to pass thru screen when pressed over it.

The screen printing process uses a mesh which is stretched tightly over a frame made of either aluminum or wood. To get the accurate color registration proper tension of the mesh is essential. As mentioned before the screen is made of the fine woven-mesh and a stencil is produced on it photo chemically.

The Screen printing ink is passed to the substrate by placing the screen on the material. The Ink is placed onto the top of the screen and forced or pressed by using a squeegee through the mesh, this will form the image onto the printing substrate.