How it works, what’s involved and what the heck do I need to know?


Before we can start a printing project, we’re going to need to collect some basic info on what you’re trying to get produced. On top of things like your name and business name, we’re going to ask you about the following pieces of info:

1) How many shirts to you want to print?
2) What sort of shirts to you want to print? (Check out our Apparel Printing section for our most popular items) If you don’t see what you’re after there, let us know becase we have hundreds of items available for printing.
3) Do you have artwork, is it either a Vector file or a 300dpi Raster file? (Check out our artwork specs here)
4) How many colours are in your artwork? More colours and locations = more money.
5) Do you have a set due date that you 100% have to have your order by? Rush orders cost extra so always keep that in mind.
6) Will your order need to be shipped? If so, where? 

Screen Printing Process | Ironclad Graphics Kingston Ontario Canada
Screen Printing Process | Ironclad Graphics Kingston Ontario Canada


Each colour in your design needs a printing screen made for it; if you’re design has a 3 colour front print, and a 2 colour back print, then we need to make 5 screens, 5 films, do 5 exposures, and setup these 5 screens on our presses. Screens consist of a metal frame, with a high quality polyester mesh stretched over it at very high tensions. A photo-sensitive coating is applied to this screen, which is then dried in our darkroom awaiting exposure. For each colour we also produce a “film” that is separated from your original artwork, this film is then used to expose the screen and produce a stencil of where that ink colour is to be printed. 


Once your screens are produced and ready for printing, they are brought to the press to be setup and prepared for the actual printing part of your job. Each screen is installed on the press one at a time, and individually aligned to each colour using a micro-registration system. Once the image is lined up, the screens are firmly locked in place to ensure they don’t move, at this squeegees and floodbars are installed on the press, and their pressure, angle and speed are adjusted to suite the ink style, image size and printing technique. 

The squeegee is a synthetic rubber blade that transfers the ink through the open areas of the screen, onto the shirt.

Screen Printing Process | Ironclad Graphics Kingston Ontario Canada
Screen Printing Process | Ironclad Graphics Kingston Ontario Canada


For each colour in your design, we have to mix a custom ink colour to match the artwork. We have a top of the link ink mixing system from Wilflex, which produces bright and bold colours that print amazingly on press. We can match any of the 1600+ Pantone Plus colours, as well as produce a wide array of metallic and crystalina ink effects. 


Once your screens are made, your ink is mixed, garments are staged, and the press is setup, then we’re ready to fire up the machine and start laying ink onto shirts. Each shirt is loaded one at a time onto the press, which rotates/indexes counter clockwise, applying each additional colour in sequence. Once the shirt has made it’s way around the press, with all the colours applied, the shirt is removed from the press and placed on a conveyor dryer, which cures the ink at 350 degrees. When the shirt exits the oven, it’s inspected and if there’s a back print, then it is returned to the press, which is then re-setup with the back print, and the process starts all over again.

Once all the colours are applied for each logo, in each location, on each shirt, then the shirts are ready to be folded and prepared for shipping or pickup.

Screen Printing Process | Ironclad Graphics Kingston Ontario Canada


Once your job is done being printed, it’s time to fold and count the shirts. Most orders are bulk folded and placed into boxes for shipping or customer pickup. Larger orders are prepared on pallets and prepped for either delivery or truck shipping.

You can also have your order individually folded and bagged, with or without size stickers or hang tags.