What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing has a lot of uses, from creating t-shirts to creating custom apparel. But perhaps it’s most famous for being a method of mass production. Screen printing has been used for decades in many industries. In the past decade, screen printing has become more popular and widespread as an industrial process. There are now professional screen printers available for every type of job.

Screen printing works with two or more opposing color dyes, either liquid or semisolid. The dye comes off a roll and rolls onto the surface to be printed. The roller that the ink rolls on is called a print head and it has two holes in the top for mounting the print head. The holes in the top are designed so that the ink will adhere to the print head.


Screenprinting uses pigmented dots to produce a surface-colored image.

The ink is applied to the stencil and when the image is formed, it is transferred to a fabric or other material using a special roller or nozzle. The pigment is not soluble in the material and therefore, it must be mixed with a solvent. This solvent is often a carrier, but can also be inorganic solvents such as UV lamps or solvents such as acetone.


Dry-run screen printing uses a screen that is filled with colored ink that is run through a stencil and then into a screen. As the screen is filled with color, the print head is not visible to viewers because the holes in the top of the screen are there. The holes let the dye to pass through the screen without setting it in the inks. This technique was commonly used in early computer screens. Screenprinting was popularized by the introduction of mesh stencils.


One of the advantages of screen printing is that the custom look can be applied at any size without concern for detail loss or blurring. It can even be applied to fabrics that cannot support custom print shapes. Unlike inks that have to be made specifically for use with a certain ink type, screen printing can be applied to fabric in any color. This allows the designer to create complex, multi-colored designs. The only limit of screen printing is the printer’s ability to create the designs.


There are two basic methods used in screen printing: dry-run and wet-run processes.

A dry-run screen printing process is when the design is printed in a cartridge or can be applied directly to a garment. After printing, the garment is immediately pressed and dried. In a wet-run screen printing process, an ink solution is sprayed onto the garment and allowed to sit for up to an hour. It is then washed with water and dried at a low temperature.


In order for a screen to give excellent quality, it must adhere to the surface well. There are four basic ways to achieve this; glosses, matte, semi-gloss, and satin. Glosses and semi-gloss are the most common types of emulsions. Matte emulsions are those that are matte in nature while satin emulsions are semi-gloss but not completely matte. Semi-gloss is the best emulsion for printing on garments because it has a very smooth, even finish.


One very unique technique, like board portals, in screen printing, is the mesh imprinting technique. With mesh imprinting, a computer or other printing device is connected to a digital imaging printer head via a USB port. The image to be printed is scanned into the machine and then the imprinted image is placed on the surface of the garment. Although it can cost more than regular screen printing, mesh imprinting is becoming more popular with apparel manufacturers due to its high durability and ability to withstand heavy usage.