When it comes to printing on fabrics and other materials, very few techniques can match the effectiveness and efficiency of screen printing.
Although it might not seem that way at first, screen printing is a relatively straightforward process. It can be used to bulk print designs on t-shirts, posters, cups, decals, vinyl, and any other merchandise. You’ll just need a screen printing machine along with a few accessories to get started with the printing process.
Now, there are six different types of screen printing processes that you can use – each of them has a specific usage scenario, which we have discussed in this short guide. So, if you are curious to know what they are, you’re at the right place.
Check out our next article on making bean bags, to enhance your knowledge on bean bags and how to make them according to your comfort.
Let’s get into it then, shall we?
What Is Screen Printing?
Before we get to its different types, let’s discuss a little bit about what screen printing actually is. It is a pretty well-known technique of printing that has existed for quite some time now. And over the years, it has become a popular printing method across different industries and businesses.
One of the primary reasons for this is that it provides a lot of freedom to the printer in terms of customization options. Furthermore, it can be used to print on a large number of materials, which makes it pretty versatile as well.
Conventionally, in the screen printing process, a stenciled design is transferred onto a suitable surface with a silk mesh, ink, and a rubber blade. This silk mesh plays a central role in the whole process because of which it is also known as silk screen printing.
How Is Screen Printing Done?
The basic principle of the screen printing method is fairly simple. It involves pressing a stencil against a suitable surface with the help of a rubber blade, also known as a squeegee. This transfers the design of the stencil onto the surface. However, the actual process consists of several steps, as described below.
Step 1: Design Creation
Creating the screen or stencil design that will be printed is the first step of the process. You can select any design or pattern, and once that’s done, it is transferred to a transparent film that will help create the stencil.
Step 2: Screen Preparation
In this step, you need to select a suitable screen and coat it with a photosensitive emulsion. Then, the transparent film is placed on top of the emulsion and exposed to UV light. The parts of the emulsion that aren’t covered by design will harden on exposure to this light. Conversely, the remaining sections which are covered will stay soft.
The softer parts are brushed off after the emulsion has fully dried, and the stencil will be ready. On that note, if you are planning on a print with multiple colors, you need to make separate stencils for each color.
Step 3: Printing The Design
Once the stencil is created, it’s time to print it on the desired material.
For this, you have to place the material on the screen printer, and then place the stencil on its surface. After that, pour the ink over the stencil and evenly distribute it with the help of a squeegee. The pattern on the stencil will be transferred onto the surface.
Types Of Screen Printing Processes
Now that you know what screen printing is and how it is done, it’s time to discuss its types.
The screen printing method emphasizes the aspect of multi-color printing. As such, the screen printing types are differentiated based on this aspect.
There are 6 different screen printing methods used today (each of them having distinct coloring options), which have been discussed in detail below.
1. Spot Color Screen Printing
This is the most common type of screen printing today that is used for printing t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise. In this method, the stock color of the ink is printed through the mesh. And the result obtained is a vibrant solid spot of color on the surface of the material.
Among all the other types of screen printing methods, this one is the simplest. And based on the ink and mesh count used, it produces a relatively thick layer of ink on the surface of the fabric. Due to this aspect, it is mostly used for printing dark garments or simple designs.
However, it can be used for printing only one to four colors at the most. Anything more than that may appear messy, due to which you should opt for another screen printing technique.
2. Halftone Printing
The halftone printing method is typically used for printing gradients on surfaces. This gradient may be of the same or different colors, but only a single color ink is used to print it.
In this regard, the halftone gives an illusion of a different shade of color when viewed from a distance. It is possible because it utilizes a principle that is used in shading with tiny dots. The mesh count is adjusted in a manner that it creates a gradient on the surface.
For instance, to produce a pink radiant color, you can use red ink on white fabric with a 50% gradient. The gradient imprints the red ink on the fabric, taking on a pink appearance over the white fabric. And for parts of the mesh that doesn’t have the gradient, you will get a solid red color.
Therefore, this screen printing method is pretty useful if you want to get a multicolored print without actually using multiple colors of ink. So, you’ll only have to buy a single color of ink, making it quite cost-effective.
3. Duotone Printing
In this method of screen printing, the same image is printed with two color inks by using a combination of two halftones. For instance, to print a duotone image on a white t-shirt, a black halftone is first printed with black ink. After that, a second halftone is applied over the first one with different color ink.
The color halftone combines with the black halftone to produce a multicolored hue. As such, this screen printing technique is also pretty efficient, as it utilizes only two color inks for producing a full-color print appearance.
Besides, it provides a sophisticated and artistic appearance to the print, much like a sepia-toned print in photography. And the prints made on garments with this technique have a much softer feel compared to some other methods of screen printing.
4. Grayscale Printing
As the name suggests, grayscale printing is a method that is used to print full-color images in different shades of gray. It uses one color halftones, which can effectively reproduce full-color photographs with enough detail. And if the halftone has more dots per inch, then the print will also have greater detail and vice versa.
Typically, the halftone uses black ink, but other color inks can be used as well to produce different shades of gray. Furthermore, it is a pretty cost-effective method of screen printing, especially if you want to print black and white designs.
5. CMYK Printing
This is one of the oldest screen printing techniques that exists today, and it is also the most complex. It uses four basic colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, combined in different ratios to produce all the other colors.
By ratios, we mean the mesh count on the printing screen. For instance, if the cyan mesh has a higher count compared to the other three, the resultant color will have a more prominent cyan hue.
In any case, due to its complexity, this printing process provides the best results if done automatically. You can attempt to do it manually, but in that case, it will require more time and effort to produce a good quality print.
It is a great method for printing full-color drawings on garments. The four colors can effectively reproduce multiple colors, so you will get really high-quality, detailed prints on light-colored garments. However, it is not very cost-effective, which is a major downside of this screen printing method.
6. Simulated Process Printing
The simulated printing process combines the principles of both spot color printing and four-color CMYK printing. So, it can be used to reproduce literally any possible colors without any issues or limitations. You can also use it to print complex images with photo realistic details.
On that note, it can be used for printing both darker garments and light garments, which makes it versatile as well. In this method, the colors are blended in a manner similar to CMYK printing. However, it uses spot color and halftones to make the image considerably more detailed than conventional CMYK prints.
Because of its versatility and quality, the printing method is quite expensive. But its cost is somewhat justified, as you can use it to produce highly detailed, vivid prints with superb graphics quality.
Benefits Of Screen Printing
There are several benefits to screen printing compared to other printing methods. Like when comparing screen vs vinyl printing, you’ll find screen printing is far superior than its vinyl counterpart. These benefits apply to each of its types, and therefore, have been discussed below.
As you can see from the different methods above, screen printing is relatively versatile for printing different types of garments. In addition, it can be used to print on other materials such as plastic, glass, ceramic, and metals.
The prints produced in screen printing are extremely durable irrespective of the type used. These prints can withstand machine washing and extensive usage without any color fades. That’s because all types of screen printing use heavy ink layering, which becomes firmly embedded in the fabric.
You can get really high-quality prints using screen printing. All the different types of screen printing produce images that have exceptional resolution and depth. Thus, you can use them to develop apparel and merchandise with creative and unique designs.
Screen printing methods are pretty cost-effective compared to some other printing methods. Even some of the more expensive techniques, such as CMYK or simulated process printing, are considerably more affordable than conventional block or roller printing methods.
5. Fast And Efficient
The process of screen printing is swift, so you can use it to produce high volumes of prints in a short time. This, in turn, makes it a highly efficient method of printing.
Types Of Screen Printing Final Words
So, now you know about the different screen printing types!
Just remember that regardless of the type of screen printing method you choose, you will be ensured convenience, versatility, quality prints, and more. We have listed a few of the benefits offered by this printing technique, so if you are in a fix about getting a screen printer, this article should help you decide better.
Before ending this article, we suggest you check our previous article on screen printing advantages and disadvantages to get a deeper understanding.
And that’s all we have for this guide. Until next time, stay safe!