So you’re interested in screen printing as a hobby/ business but don’t know where to start.
There are many companies that can assist you in the preparation process if you have a few Rands to spend. However, if you have a limited budget and only need to do a small amount of printing (say 1 or 2 garments) for yourself you can check out this site.
To those of you who really need a high quality end result and and are serious about making a living through selling printed t shirts, etc, this is what you’ll need:
- Good quality separated positives of your artwork
- Screens that are professionally stretched with the correct mesh that is suitable for the surface to be printed on
- Photo-sensitive emulsion (used for burning the image onto the mesh)
- Screen wash
- Clean rags
- Ink suitable for the surface you intend printing on
- a UV light box/ sunlight
- A water hose.
- A dark area
- A suitable work area
- Glue spray
- Cleaning agents for your hands.
- Buff tape
- Hair dryer or oven.
- Good quality positives printed on transparency film. You will need one film for each color that you intend printing. Here we have a basic vector/ drawn image that shows how colors are separated for silk screening.
The blue and orange elements will be placed on 2 separate screens and thus 2 positives (possies) will made. The possies are printed in black or red onto the transparency films.
- 3. Coat the screens in your dark area. Apply the photo-sensitive emulsion to the whole screen/mesh.
- 4. Position the possies on the screen. Place the positives on the screen in a position that will not hamper your stroke.
- 5. Once you are satisfied with the positioning, develop the screen by exposing it to your light source. The light will only develop the areas that are transparent on your possies. Leave it for 10 minutes until fully exposed.
- 6. Take the screen to your dark area and use the water hose to remove all unexposed
emulsion with high pressure hosing.
The result should be what you see above.
- Allow the screen to dry completely and inspect it for speckles/ little areas that needs filling. Use the filler to touch up.
- Apply buff tape to the part (most) of the screen was developed, in other words the green area in the above pic. This is to ensure that screen cleaning is quick and easy.
- Apply the glue to your printing area / workbench which will hold the garment in position.
- Position the garment.
- Lay paper on top of the garment for a test print. Use some sticky tape to hold the paper in position on top of the garment.
- Use spacers (pieces of cardboard) to ensure that there is about a 3 mm gap between the screen an the garment. This is to prevent smudging after the stroke for printing has been made.
- Pour in a good amount of ink near to the printing area. Any unused ink can be poured back into the tin, providing that you’re not using a hardener as some inks require.
- Using the squeegee in an upright position with a minimal slant, apply pressure and stroke the ink over the print area on the screen. A good stroke will result in the print area clearing of ink after the stroke. This is because the ink would have successfully reached the underlying surface.
- Remove the screen and check the test paper. If you are satisfied with the stoke and positioning , you’re on your way.
- When you’re done printing, ensure that your screen is cleaned using the screenwash.
For those interested in printing high volumes, I suggest that you look into purchasing carousel printing equipment which allows you to place and print up to 8 garments at a time.