Updated: Oct 31, 2019
Screen printing, or silk screen printing as it is sometimes called, is historically the most popular way of decorating T-shirts and other products. It produces strong colours even on dark garments. But the question is, is it still?
Screen prints are extremely durable, far more so than vinyl, and are likely to be the cheapest solution for large volume printing, especially of one colour. The main advantage of screen printing is the unique visual result it creates. The inks used are very durable, the colours are extremely vivid, particularly for outdoor uses, making this a unique reproduction technique.
The fact that we can print on a very large variety of materials and objects, and that we can choose from a plethora of special inks , are all factors that have helped to establish Screen Printing as the optimal method for creating products with particular features. This is a very flexible printing technology, with no limitations on the thickness and nature of the material on which the printing will be carried out, and without a doubt, for a specific volume of production, it continues to be the most effective and economical printing methodology around.
Due to the screen charges (per colour) and set up times small runs can prove costly. The more complex and colourful the design the more costly it is. For runs of 50 prints or less and for more than one colour screen printing can work out quite expensive. Each print position (chest, back, sleeve etc) will be charged separately.
Screen printing isn't exactly eco-friendly. It requires chemicals and emulsifiers in the screen mesh creation, plenty of water to clean the screens, chemical inks and then needs to be heat cured to fix the design and stop it running. There are water based inks which are more eco-friendly than the regular plastisol inks. However, they are very difficult to work with and are hard to cure, which means the print could run or not last very long. To get round this you need to add a solvent which defeats the whole purpose, so eco-friendly inks are really not viable.
For more information about the environmental issues screen printing causes, feel free to read our other post here.
This year we are moving over to a radically new method of creating screens. This is done electronically, via new state of the art technology. We simply upload your design into the machine and it creates the mesh in just a few minutes, irrespective of how complex it is. There is no need for chemicals or emulsifiers in this process and because of the cheapness and quickness of the process we can dispense with the mesh after use so we don't need to use lots of water to clean the screens with.
What do you think?