Screen printing is our thing. We love it. But what is it?
With screen printing, a screen is created for every colour of each print. We use aluminium frames and polyester mesh. The number of threads per cm (thread count or T) is important for a good quality print. We tend to use 43T for most fabric prints and 90T for paper printing but we have other thread counts for particularly detailed prints, layered printing, half tones and some metallic inks. The mesh is coated with a UV-sensitive emulsion and left flat to dry overnight, in the dark.
The design is separated into its individual colour elements (usually using Photoshop). Each colour of the design is changed to black and printed out onto separate sheets of film at the final print size.
The film is then taped to the front of a screen and the screen is placed face-down onto a vacuum UV light box. The screen is then exposed to UV light for a short time and the vacuum helps to keep it *exactly* in place. Where the UV hits the screen, the emulsion changes its composition and it becomes cross-linked and solid. Where the black design on the film prevents the UV light from reaching the emulsion on the screen it does not cross-link. After exposure the screen is washed and the non-exposed emulsion washes away, leaving a stencil of the design behind.
The screens are attached to the arms of our printing carousel and garments are attached to the printing boards underneath. A multicolour design requires multiple screens (one for each colour) but, after careful registration, the different colour prints from these screens should fit together perfectly to reproduce the original design.
A squeegee is then used to press ink through the mesh stencil onto the fabric. Prior to printing and after each colour the T-shirt must be heated under a heater to permanently dry or cure the ink to the fabric.
To learn more about screen printing, or if you want to watch exactly how we do it, pop over to our YouTube channel and watch our video tutorials.