THE SCREEN PRINTING PROCESS
How it works, what’s involved and what the heck do I need to know?
SCREENS & FILM
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 and the screens are then firmly locked in place to ensure they don’t move. Then 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.
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.
FOLDING & SHIPPING
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.