Textile screen printing
Our Favorite Personalization Technique
What is screen printing?
Screen printing is a textile customization technique that stands out for its high quality, speed and its handmade process. It is the stamping system that most represents us.
It is the best known and possibly the favorite of both companies and designers. Spectacular results are achieved.
Screen printing on paper and textile work very similarly. They are made from the ink passing through a mesh stretched on a screen and are printed color by color , in the case of textiles, directly on the garments.
Textile screen printing is a very old technique that, although nowadays it is assisted by machines, it is still a handmade process . Without going any further, our specialists have to retouch the designs to adapt them to create the photoliths and screens, we make the colors by hand and the shirts have to be sheathed one by one, and many more processes in which we are not going to go into detail now.
Silkscreen: sericum (silk in Latin) + graphé (write or draw in Greek). To know the origins of screen printing, one must go back to ancient China and the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD). Although it is said that they began using the interlaced hair of women, they soon switched to the use of silk meshes for the passage of ink, hence its name sericum-graphé.
Screen printing soon spread to Japan and neighboring countries, but it was not introduced in Europe until the late 18th century, when the silk trade was at its peak. In France, in the city of Lyon, silk-screen printing began to be used to print fabrics, giving its name to 'Lyonnais printing'.
1910 is considered the year of birth of the current screen printing because photosensitive active ingredients began to be applied to create the screens and block the passage of ink. It became popular in the United States with billboards and later for artistic purposes. But without a doubt, the one who made screen printing fashionable was Andy Warhol in the 60's with his portrait of Marilyn Monroe.
Today most t-shirts and garments are printed in screen printing.
Textile customization process with screen printing.
The screen printing process is quite complicated to explain, which is why we rely so much on graphics. The basic basic thing to know is that it is printed color by color and that the inks are transferred through a mesh.
The 3 main elements that participate in the process are the photoliths , screens and inks . This trident is the one that determines the technical expenses . The more colors your design has, the more photoliths, screens and inks will come into play, and the higher the expenses will be.
The screen printing process begins by making the photoliths.
We separate your designs by color and from each of them we print a photolith with opaque black ink on a transparent acetate with our special high definition plotter. In this way we will have the basis to create the screens of each color.
It is a delicate process that requires extensive experience to obtain the best result on screens. If a photolith is not of sufficient quality and does not take care of the details, we can obtain a low quality stamping. It is essential that the ink is completely opaque so that it does not let light through when the insolation process begins.
The quality and level of definition will determine the quality of the screens and therefore of the stamping. That is why it is so important that you send us good quality files.
Here comes the tricky part: the insolation of the screens. We cover the screens with a photosensitive emulsion on the mesh. Being sensitive to light we have to work only with red light, as in photographic laboratories.
We square photolith and screen and through an insolator we apply a very powerful light source to them. When the emulsion comes into contact with light, it solidifies, leaving the entire mesh solidified, except for the opaque part of the photolyte. To finish we remove the part of the design with water ... and voilà! We already have the screen ready. The solid part of the mesh will block the passage of the ink, which will only pass through the design area.
In home screen printing, we usually work with wooden screens, but we work with metal screens that are much more resistant. In this way we can recycle them with our special machine.
To make custom screen printed shirts or any other garment we use high quality inks that are respectful of the environment. They are plastisols without phthalates. For the clueless, phthalates are a harmful substance that used to be used years ago in screen printing and is unfortunately still used in many workshops ...
Inks technical sheets
In our stamping workshop we use the Pantone U range as a color code.
We want to clarify that there are no exact pantones for textiles, but our specialists try to get as close as possible, we work with a 98% fidelity. You just have to give us the exact pantone you want and we will take care of reproducing it. We do it through an artisanal process, as if it were a recipe.
Once the screens were created, we meticulously placed them on the screen printing octopus, we wrapped the shirts and we put the inks. To make them adhere better, we spray so that the t-shirts do not move from the octopus and thus avoid moving or crooked logos. A few tests and tinkering are done, and things start to spin! You have to supervise that everything is going well and remove the shirts that are already printed.
To close the process, the shirts have to go through the drying tunnel. The tunnel has to be at a precise temperature for the inks to set correctly. It is the secret so that screen-printed t-shirts last for years and years and do not fade with washing or wear out. Our tunnel is state-of-the-art and only uses electrical energy, much more respectful with the environment than diesel ones.
At this point your shirts are 100% ready! We put them in boxes and send them to your home or to our stores in Washington DC or Florida, depending on the option you have chosen. The shirts will arrive in our personalized boxes or with recycled boxes from our suppliers. Think about the environment!
Every year we invest in improving our workshop. This year we have hit a turnaround and we are very happy with the results, and our workers too! The stamping workshop is located in Argentona, Washington DC, where a team of more than 15 people are dedicated to materialize your designs. Each one is specialized in a part of the process, but broadly speaking, the workshop is divided into 4 blocks: the screen printing area, the screen area, the digital techniques area and the warehouse area (stock area).
We have reorganized and redistributed our warehouse in order to have a greater number of t-shirts and products in stock. Everything to be faster and not have to depend so much on the delivery times of our suppliers. From now on we will have a special catalog for urgent orders. We work with more than 20 international brands and we have more than 1000 products in our catalog. Having them all, with all their sizes and colors, in stock is unfeasible, but we have selected our best-selling products that our customers, commercials and printers trust most.
Antonio is in charge of the screen area. Receive the photoliths, insolate the screens and leave them ready for your colleagues in the workshop. As we have commented before, it is necessary to work with red light because the emulsions are sensitive to light and would "reveal" themselves with white light. Once the screens are insolated, it is necessary to remove the solidified part of the mesh. We use a pressure water gun to remove the area through which the ink will pass. To improve working conditions we have recently changed the blackout curtain that we had before for a special red plastic curtain that lets light through slightly. It is also much more hygienic because it does not attract dust.
One of our last bets has been to move our 3 screen printing octopuses towards the window area. Few can boast of such a spacious and open workshop! We also have 2 electric drying tunnels and a space dedicated to inks. We have a mini laboratory for the manufacture of the inks, not the inks themselves, but the colors. As we have mentioned, we are guided by the Pantone Uncoated code: you provide us with the pantone code and we create the ink. Pedro is the one who takes care of everything being shot in the workshop and of organizing and dividing the work into groups in each of our octopus.
Although it does not intervene in the textile screen printing process, in our workshop we also have a space dedicated to other techniques such as digital printing, sublimation, copitrans or vinyl. At the helm of our fantastic Kornit (next generation DTG), our vinyl printing and cutting plotters, and our plotter and sublimation plate is Pablo. These techniques are often less economical than screen printing but are necessary for printing difficult designs, photos or for small orders that do not reach the minimum screen printing. All these printing systems are much slower than screen printing as they are printed shirt by shirt.
Screen printing tips
What must be considered?
Regarding the number of inks, we can make custom white shirts printed in 8 colors or colored shirts, polos and sweatshirts with a maximum of 6. Other garments such as bags, caps, etc. have a maximum of 4. For the rest of the products , consult us.
Screen printing is used to reproduce relatively simple logos, phrases or designs. Even so, spectacular things are achieved with this technique. We cannot reproduce photos with photographic quality, or gradients as they are, but we can use screen printing with patterns to simulate those gradients.
Screen printing is an artisanal process that involves many elements such as photoliths, screens, and color by color printing. Therefore we cannot make a custom t-shirt from today to tomorrow. In any case, we have included an express service for urgent orders, but that urgency implies overtime and therefore a surcharge.
Angel Fernandez. CEO
Stamping zones and sizes
We can print the shirts on the front, on the back, on the sleeves, on the sides or as a label on the back, under the neck. You will see it more clearly with these graphics:
Keep in mind that we cannot screen print on seams, neck, etc. If you want to print on the sides you will need tubular shirts, without seams on the sides.
In screen printing we work with 2 maximum stamping sizes that are defined by the size of the screens:
- Standard screen: 30cm high x 30cm wide. The most used in most custom t-shirts and the most economical.
- XL screen: 45cm high by 38cm wide. For designs that want to attract attention and go out of the ordinary.
It does not matter if your logo is 2x2cm or 30x30cm, the price will be the same. So take advantage of the space!
Be careful not to choose very large print sizes if you are going to make t-shirts for boys, XS for girls, etc. We advise you to choose a stamping size that is valid for all sizes, so as not to have to make 2 screens and increase technical expenses.
Silk-screen printed garments do not need a special wash, just warm water and mildly abrasive soap. Do not iron the print on top or it will stick to the iron.
Examples of custom t-shirts with screen printing. Work carried out by us during all our years of service.