Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to receive a desired image. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A fill blade or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink through the mesh openings to wet the substrate during the squeegee stroke. Basically, it is the process of using a mesh-based stencil to apply ink onto a substrate, whether it be t-shirts, posters, stickers, vinyl, wood, or other material. It is also known as silkscreen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicolored image or design. (tip o' the hat to Wikipedia)

Costs of Screen-Printing

The cost of your final product depends on several factors including the cost of the undecorated garment, the number of colors in your design, the number of locations you will print on each shirt and the number of shirts you are decorating.  

In some cases it may be necessary to add a flash layer of white on dark colored shirts in order to make the final image display properly.  For new designs there is the cost of creating the screen or screens needed to produce the image.  You will typically pay screen charges for the first order and there will be no screen charges for subsequent re-orders assuming there are no changes in the design.

Generally speaking your lowest cost option will be a single color on a single location and your cost will increase as you add more colors and/or more locations.

When to use screen printing

·    A casual and consistent look.  Screen printing is an ideal way to create casual, comfortable, customized clothing for your group, your event or to promote your business. As Emerald Ink and Stitches we’ve designed and produced screen printed shirts for all types of organizations and events including businesses, educational and civic groups, family reunions, bridal showers, athletic teams, car and motorcycle clubs, non-profit groups, booster clubs, public safety departments and more. 

·    Very large, very small or detailed images.  Screen printing will probably be the best method if you have a large image since, unlike embroidery, the size of the image has no bearing on the cost of screen-printing.  Screen printing also works well if you have very finely detailed images or want to use a gradient or fade in your design. Finally, very small lettering (less than ¼” tall) will be more legible on a screen printed garment than on an embroidered garment.

When Screen-Printing may not be your best option

Screen printing isn’t the best choice for every garment or every occasion so you should consider an embroidered design if you want a more professional look or if you want to use ribbed or porous fabric like golf or polo shirts.