How Does Screen Printing Work

When screen printing first became common in the 18th century, few people would have predicted how important it would become in the coming centuries. The heart and soul of many bulk printing projects, screen printing rose to popularity after the import and export of silk mesh became easier.

Silk mesh is the most important component of screen printing. As a result, by the turn of the 19th century, screen printing had become widespread in the world of advertisement. Even today, screen printing is prevalent across many industries, such as retail and electronics. This is because of how easy and customizable the method is.

If you’re interested in learning how does screen printing work, read on.

How Does Screen Printing Work?

When you think about screen printing, you probably think about a single person working with boards and stencils to push ink onto the canvas. While this is a common practice among screen printers, it is generally limited to artists and people who are pursuing it as a hobby or leisure. Sometimes, manual screen printing may be used when a small print run is required.

When it comes to bulk printing, however, the process is almost always automated. Computer technology is used to combine advanced inks and materials to streamline the process, making it easier to print a large volume in a short period.

The biggest advantage of screen printing is that it is suitable for printing on almost any surface, including paper, fabric, cards, plastic, wood, leather, and even glass. On a basic level, the process of screen printing involves using a mesh screen to create a stencil. This stencil can be placed on any canvas or surface before pushing the ink through the stencil. This creates an imprint of the stencil on the surface below the mess screen.

Following is the step-by-step process of screen printing.

· Creating a Design

Whether you’re screen printing manually or using a machine, the first step of the process is to create a design. It can either be created by hand or with the help of a design software on the computer. If you create a design by hand, you’ll have to get it scanned to get a digital copy. Afterward, the design is printed on a transparent acetate film. The mesh screen stencil will be created with the help of this acetate film.

· Selecting A Screen

After the design has been locked, you will have to select a silk mesh screen. Not all silk mesh are the same, as they differ widely when it comes to mesh count, which is the total number of fibers in one square inch. The mesh count you choose can have an effect on your design. Therefore, it is necessary to make an informed choice. A lower mesh count has wider openings that allow the ink to flow through. On the other hand, screens with a high mesh count preserve a fair coating of the ink and are able to print finer details on the canvas.

· Preparing The Screen

After determining the best mesh count for your design and selecting a silk mesh screen, you will have to prepare it for the job. For this purpose, you’ll have to coat it with a layer of light-reactive emulsion. There are three types of emulsions that you can get:

  1. SBQ-Based:These require no mixing and cure at a great speed. However, they tend to be expensive and are more suitable for detailed printing.  
  2. Diazo:This is the more economical option and suitable for people pursuing it as a hobby. However, it takes longer exposure and may not be suitable for detailed projects.
  3. Dual-Cure Emulsions:This is simply a combination of the above two elusions. The mixing makes it more affordable than SBQ-based emulsions but doesn’t take as long to cure as Diazo.

· Creating The Stencil

Once you have all the material and have finalized the design, you will have to create the stencil. To begin the process, coat the mesh screen with a fine layer of emulsion. Place the transparent acetate film and carefully keep it in a location where it is exposed to a bright light. This allows the emulsion to harden and develop the stencil. It is important to note that you’ll need a separate screen for different colors. After the screen is hardened, you will be required to rinse and dry it. This will leave uncovered areas to harden and the cover areas to rinse away. The stencil is now ready.

· Applying The Design

Select the material you want to screen print on and place it flat on the printing board. Afterward, place the mesh screen on the material in the desired position. The ink in the desired color will then be poured over the screen and evenly distributed with the help of a squeegee. Make sure you leave no spaces unattended. The open areas of the stencil allow the ink to pass through and transfer to the surface. As a result, the design is printed on the product.

· Heat Curing

At this point, you will be able to see your design come to life. However, there is one last step to finalize it. The printed surface will be heat-cured with the help of a dryer. This will smoothen the design and prevent it from fading away.

Final Words

The process of screen printing is very fascinating and enjoyable; something that you should definitely try at least once. However, if you don’t want to put in all the time and effort, but would like some screen-printed products, head over to Groggy Dog. We provide customized screen printing services and will deliver your desired product to your doorsteps within 5 to 10 days at reasonable prices. Get in touch with us to get a quote today.