Printing is a process of producing images and text, commonly utilizing ink, paper and a printing press. Over time, printing technology has developed significantly. Diverse techniques are available, but screen-printing is used most of the time.
Screen-printing, also referred to as silk screening, is a method that is best for surfaces that are relatively flat. In this process, fine mesh or a screen is tightly stretched over a rigid frame, with the screen masking areas which will not be printed. In order to make a print, the screen is placed atop the item that is to be printed; then a blob of thick ink is applied. Next the ink is pressed through the screen with the assistance of a squeegee. The ink bonds to the unmasked area, thereby creating the print, and the masked area is screened from ink penetration. After this, the printed item goes through a heated tunnel that dries the ink so that items can be stacked or put into packages.
When more than one color is involved, the process is repeated, utilizing different screens. So, four screens would be necessary for a four-color print; they can be placed on a rotary press or done by hand, allowing each color to print in its proper place.
There are several methods of masking a screen. The easiest thing to do is to apply masking fluid right onto the screen. This process works very well for two-color graphics, while a photosensitive emulsion process is utilized for jobs involving multiple colors.
If you are unsure what to request when ordering, remember that a screen printer’s t-shirt printed with ink with plastics will be hot and tacky afterwards. It might be wise to request water-based inks if you prefer a softer, vintage-look screen printed shirt. But if you are wanting a heavy laid print, you should request ink containing plastics to be applied with a hot press.
Inks containing plastics are used by many screen printers because often they last longer, are richer, heavier and more easily seen, not to mention being easier on the screen printing equipment. Within a short time frame, plastic inks can begin to crack up, though. Natural inks last longer and they look better too.
Image by masha_k_sh
T-shirt for Afisha Picnic 2011.
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