What is screen printing?

Screen printing is applying ink onto fabric using a mesh-like material called a stencil. A stencil is a patterned piece of cloth placed over the item’s surface. Ink is then applied to the backside of the stencil, where it passes through the holes in the stencil and adheres to the surface below. Once the design is complete, the stencil is removed and discarded.

Today, screen printing is still used primarily for textile printing. However, it is now used for many applications, including apparel, home decor, murals, and food packaging. If you need custom screen printing services contact the professionals here at Rocky Mountain Apparel, we’d be happy to help you!

Silk Screen Printing

Silk screen printing uses silk screens to apply ink onto fabric. To create a print, the artist first creates a design using various methods, including computer-aided design (CAD), hand drawing, photography, or even freehand sketching. Once the design is complete, the artist places the image on top of a stencil mesh. A squeegee is then moved across the stencil pressing the ink through the holes in the mesh. After the ink dries, the artwork is removed from the stencil and placed under a press where the final product is created. 

What Are Screens?

Screens are thin sheets of metal that have been perforated with tiny holes. When these screens are placed above each other, they create a grid pattern that lets ink pass through while blocking unwanted particles.

There are two basic types of screens: mesh and stencil. Mesh screens are flat metal pieces connected to make a grid. Stencil screens are cut-out shapes stacked together to create a grid. Both mesh and stencil screens are commonly used in screen printers.

How Are Screens Made?

The first step in making a screen is cutting out the shape. A laser cuts the stencils or meshes directly onto the material. Once the stencils or mesh are created, they’re attached to a frame. Frames are just a series of bars holding the screens in place. Each bar holds several screens, and the distance between them determines the size of the openings.

Once the frames are complete, they’re ready to go! Next comes the fun part — attaching the screens to the frame. There are many different techniques for doing this. One way is to hand sew the screens to the frame, but this isn’t always practical. Another option is to glue the screens to the frame using epoxy. Epoxies are strong adhesives that bond well with metals and plastics. You can find epoxies online or at hardware stores.

After the screens are glued to the frame, they need to be cleaned before being installed in a machine. Cleaning involves removing debris and oil from the screens. To clean the screens, you can wash them in soap and water or soak them in solvents. Solvents remove oils and grease without damaging the screens. After cleaning, the screens are dried and ready to print.

Historical Figures Who Popularized Screen Printing

William Morris (1834-1896)

William Morris was a British artist who revolutionized textile design. He believed that art should not only be beautiful but functional as well. Medieval tapestries inspired his designs, and he created his style of weaving called ‘Morrisian Tapestry.’ In 1855, he founded the Kelmscott Press, publishing books including ‘The Earthly Paradise’ and ‘A Dream of John Ball.’ He was also a significant influence on the Arts & Craft movement.

Charles Frederick Holder (1835-1912)

Charles Frederick Holder was a German painter and typographer who invented the first screen printing machine in 1885. He later moved to England and opened his own company, C.F. Holder Ltd., where he produced posters, book covers, and fabrics. He became known for his bold, colorful prints and his work influenced many artists and designers throughout Europe and America.

Edward Middleditch (1840-1910)

Edward Middleditch was an English painter and printmaker who worked in watercolor, etching, lithography, and woodcut. He was best known for his landscapes and seascapes. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and frequently exhibited at the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers.

Alfred Gilbert (1854-1938)

Alfred Gilbert was an American illustrator and cartoonist who designed the United States Postal Service logo. He was born in New York City and began drawing cartoons while attending high school. After graduating from Cooper Union, he studied at the Art Students League of New York. He then studied painting and sculpture around Europe before returning to the US in 1890.

James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1964)

James Montgomery Flagg was an American illustrator, poster designer, and political activist. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Pratt Institute. He started working as a commercial artist in 1900 and eventually became famous for his World War I propaganda posters. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.

Henry Cole (1861-1945)

Henry Cole was an English artist whose works included paintings, drawings, and illustrations. He was born in London and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. He won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1888 and spent two years traveling across Italy. He returned to Britain and continued to paint until his death.

Robert Gibbings (1864-1942)

Robert Gibbings was an English artist and illustrator specializing in children’s literature. He illustrated several classic children’s stories, including Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Treasure Island. He was born in Liverpool and studied at the Slades School of Art. He taught at the Central School of Art and Design in London and was elected president of the Royal Watercolour Society.

When Were Printed T-Shirts Invented?

18th Century

The first screen-printed t-shirts were created in the late 1700s. These shirts were worn by sailors who would wear them while working out at sea. The design was simple; it had a white background with black text.

19th Century

In the 1800s, people started wearing these shirts around town. These shirts were much different than the ones we know today. Instead of having a solid color background, they had stripes and designs.

20th Century

During the 1900s, t-shirt printing became popular among college students. College students wore their favorite colors and designs on their shirts.

21st Century

Today, t-shirts have become a symbol of individuality. People wear what they want and express themselves through clothing.

What Machines Are Used For Screen Printing?

Gravure Press

Gravure presses are used to print many different products, including clothing, paper goods, food packaging, and even some forms of art. A gravure press uses a cylinder covered in thousands of tiny cells called cells. These cells hold ink and transfer it onto the surface of the printed material. When the cylinder rotates, the cells move across the product’s surface and print out the image.

Offset Press

Offset presses use a rubber blanket to transfer the ink onto the product’s surface. The rubber blanket is then peeled away from the product and placed back on top of the cylinder. As the cylinder continues to rotate, the blanket transfers the image repeatedly until the entire design is complete.

Flexographic Press

Flexographic presses use a flexible plate covered in thousands of small cells. These cells hold the ink and transfer it onto any type of material. Once the ink is transferred onto the surface, the plate moves down and prints the image onto the surface.

Water-Based Inkjet Printers

Water-based inkjet printers use water-soluble inks sprayed directly onto the surface of the printed item. After they have been applied, the ink dries almost instantly.

UV Inks

UV inks are inks that are designed specifically for printing on plastics. They are not soluble in water and therefore do not require any kind of solvent to work. Instead, they rely on ultraviolet radiation to cure them.

How Do Screen Printers Work?

Screen printing is inkjet printing where the ink is applied directly onto the substrate (usually fabric) using a squeegee. A mesh screen is placed over the substrate, and ink is squeezed through holes in the screen. Ink is forced through the mesh by applying pressure with a squeegee. The mesh screens are either woven or non-woven, depending on what they’re being used for. Woven screens are stronger than non-woven ones and are generally used for heavier applications.

What Types of Fabrics are Suitable for Screen Printing?

Fabrics that have been treated with special chemicals are not recommended for use with screen printing. These include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and vinyl. Fabrics that have been dyed should also be avoided because the dye may bleed through the screen and ruin the print job. If you want to know if a particular fabric is suitable for screen printing, check the manufacturer’s website.

How much does screen printing cost?

The price of screen printing varies based on the size of the project, how many colors are involved, and whether the material is prepped before printing. Prepping refers to cleaning the fabric’s surface to remove any oils or stains. It’s best to prep the fabric before printing because some materials require additional steps after printing.

At Rocky Moutain Apparel, we have many different options for custom screen printing! We offer both digital and traditional print methods. Digital prints are done using our software and printed directly onto fabric. Traditional prints use a silk screening method where ink is applied to a mesh material and then transferred to the garment. Both methods produce high-quality results at competitive prices. Contact Rocky Mountain Apparel today to learn more about how we can help you create unique apparel! Call us at 303-292-3331.