The Ins and Outs of Screen Printing

August 31, 2022

What is screen printing? Any how does it work? Learn more about the ins and outs of screen printing!

In printing, much like any new project, it can be difficult to know which methods will provide the best results. Though it may seem intimidating to first-time printers, screen printing is an accessible and easily repeated way to obtain boldly colored and long-lasting prints on various materials. Here is how the printing process works.

What Is a Screen Print?

A screen print is the product of pushing ink through a mesh stencil to print an image onto a surface. This method is typically used on fabric or paper, though certain inks can allow printing onto less absorbent or workable materials such as glass or metal.

How Is the Stencil Made When Screen Printing?

The stencil is constructed on a mesh screen either by blocking sections of the screen manually using tape, vinyl, glue or lacquer or by coating the screen in a light-activated emulsion. This advanced method uses the following steps to create more detailed stencils than making them by hand:

The screen is completely coated in the emulsion.

A transparency of the stencil is placed onto the screen, and the entire frame is exposed to UV light, which cures the exposed emulsion.

The parts of the screen covered by the stencil are easily washed away, leaving a negative of the image.

Given this added complexity, equipment and cost for emulsion, hobbyists and consumers in Tulsa, OK, may consider using a screen printing shop for more professional prints rather than investing additional time and money into the practice.

What Comes Next?

With the stencil made, the printing surface is placed under the screen, which is then flooded with ink. The ink is forced evenly through the screen and onto the material with a special squeegee. By marking where the material should rest, printers can easily replicate the design, and by using various stencils for the same print, they can achieve multicolored images.

Screen printing is a method that has withstood the test of time. With the proper equipment and practice, printers can mass-produce vivid images onto various materials.