Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the most versatile print methods used today and this effective process can be used on a very broad range of mediums, making screening one of the most preferred print techniques. The screening process of printing can be used on substrates that other forms of print methods cannot be used for. Though most popularly used for T-shirt prints, screen printing services can also print on plastic, metal, glass, and paper. Products that can be printed upon are, of course the ever-popular T-shirt, but also posters, signs, labels, stickers, electronics, and textiles. There's little that this process cannot print on, because size, thickness of medium, or shape will not inhibit the silkscreening process. And, for those projects that need the extra "look" of something special, this is the print method to choose. Actually, this silkscreening became widely popular in the 1960s when artists used screening as a way of creating unique paintings.

Many jobs prefer using this method of print processing because the ink can be more liberally applied to the medium. Also, colors can be mixed directly on the substrate giving unique effects that cannot be duplicated with other methods of printing. Screen printing is often used for artistic expression because of the unique finishes that it alone can accomplish. And, a broad range of dyes and different types of ink can be used because of the simple application process. However, screen printing services are labor intensive, so this type of print project is best used on smaller job specifications that need an artistic edge. Having letterhead of businesses cards screened may not be the best budget decision, but reprinting posters, designing a fabric piece, or launching a line of clothing for a work team will be perfect projects for this unique print process.

The screening process is really quite simple and only requires a few, pieces of equipment to accomplish a wonderful result. Screen printing companies use a screen of some type of porous fabric, a frame, ink, and a squeegee, or tool to push the paint through the material. Different effects can be accomplished with different types of materials and fabrics used in pushing the ink through the screen and onto the substrate. Reversed, or negative stencils, or image plates are placed on the screen blocking the ink flow to create the desired image. Composition, form, the amount of pressure used and the actual blade will also have an effect on the final impression on the object being printed. Professionals use technology in accomplishing this form of print, but this artistic print method can also be used by smaller businesses or even in the garage of the adventurous artist!

When there are specific print jobs that call for this type of process, those seeking screening will want to first determine specifications before contacting screen printing services. If the project is small and in need of a skillful hand, then using a smaller customized screener may be called for. Small orders of Inexpensive T-shirt prints will require a different type of service than what large sophisticated commercial printers offer. Asking the printers under consideration for a sample of their work or for an example of the project under discussion would be one way to get a good idea of the quality of work being performed. Screen printing price structures will also depend upon the style and size of the project. The degree of difficulty, the technology used, the materials required, and the labor or time involved will all play a factor into the quoted price. Also, some substrates are more difficult to print on than others, so this, too, can be a cost factor.

When preparing for a print project of any size or magnitude, be sure and speak with others who have used this form of printing. Getting advice and guidance from those who have worked with screen printing services before will certainly be helpful in making final decisions. Actually, getting advice on important matters is Biblical, for the Bible encourages that all situations require the input of counsel or expertise. "He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. Where no counsel is the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors, there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14) Speaking with others will also give seekers a good idea of what to expect in cost and also referral direction.

There are different types of screen printing methods, and some use a simple spot process while others have complex spot techniques. Elaborate jobs will require multi-color print options along with other new and technically advanced methods that are used by commercial agencies. To get more information on silkscreening and the latest advancements, browse the Internet where there are print tutorials and articles that explain the latest updates on the technical advancements.

Screen Printing Equipment

Even in a digital age, quality screen printing equipment is still essential for many types of print work. Screen-printing is an old method that is still with us today. Originating in China, the process is nearly 2000 years old. In those days the process was simple, but effective. Human hair was used to construct primitive screens while leaves were used to create a stencil. While technology has improved the process, the basic method is still the same. Ink is pushed through a screen while a stencil prevents the ink from coming through in certain places, creating a design. Basically, the solid part of the stencil represents where the ink will be blocked and any cut outs in the stencil allow the ink to come through. The Japanese began using silk to create screens, giving birth to the name silk screening, a term still used today. This method is still commonly used to print on clothing such as shirts and hats as well as other materials including paper, wood, ceramics and glass. Even CDs and DVDs are sometimes printed using this method. Later developments paved the way for printing that incorporated a number of colors rather than just one. The different types of screen printing supplies can range from the simple to the high tech. The longevity of this process could be attributed to its versatility. Since the material that is being printed on does not experience great pressure, as is the case with other methods, many different types of surfaces adapt well to this technique.

Today's screens are not made of silk, but rather out of a type of polyester. Stencils are made from special material that is designed for this process. This material is one of many very important examples of screen printing supplies. It is important that this material is water tight so that no ink can pass through the areas that are blocked. The simplest and most widely used type of screen printing equipment is the flatbed printer. Other types are the rotary and the cylinder press. The most basic printing process can be done by hand with the frame that contains the stencil placed directly on top of the object that is being printed. A bead of ink is spread at the top and then moved across the stencil using a rubber blade or squeegee. This pushes the ink through the stencil, quickly transferring the design. One stencil can be used over and over, or can be removed and another stencil attached for a different design.

These stencils can be created by hand using a blade to cut away unwanted material. The photo emulsion technique involves a photocopied or printed image that is projected as a black and white negative on screens, much the same way that photographs are created. A process such as this allows for a wide variety of image choices as well as a much greater amount of fine detail. Among popular screen printing equipment are special kits that allow hobbyists to create smaller projects using these same techniques. Far removed from the home hobbyist, machine presses that incorporate these methods can rapidly turn out thousands of printed items. In addition to screens and stencils, there are other screen printing supplies that are necessary including the base, which keeps the item that is receiving the print from moving, ink, and the substrate, or item to be printed. The Bible talks about the importance of honesty in business dealings. "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning." (Leviticus 19:13)

Anyone who is interested in purchasing screen printing supplies for manual printing will need a manual press and some type of dryer. Units that can flash cure the printed objects are very important. These devices can help to quickly set the ink so that no smearing occurs. Flash curing units use infrared rays and do not generate a great deal of heat in the room where they are being used. There are also conveyer style dryers available. Conveyer dryers will usually accommodate a larger number of items. Manual presses come in either four color or six color models. Most commercial endeavors require a six color press. If the equipment is used, the buyer should take pains to make sure that it is extremely sturdy. Wobbly equipment will greatly decrease the speed, accuracy and quality of the work that is being done.

Automated printers come in a wide variety of styles. This kind of screen printing equipment obviously requires a much larger financial investment. The spring lift printer, as its name suggests, has a lifting mechanism that is spring driven which moves the screens down for printing, them lifts them up again. A parallel one arm air lift machine does the same kind of thing, but uses compressed air to do the lifting. A parallel automatic machine has many mechanized features and is best used for high volume printing. A clamshell machine is very simple to use and opens and closes much like the mollusk that it is named after. Industrial quality dryers are very useful examples of needed screen printing supplies. Ultra violet dryers are known for their fast work and are especially effective on three dimensional objects such as containers and bottles. Automated stacking dryers help keep assembly lines moving and can often handle thousands of items per hour. These dryers eliminate the need to restack items by depositing them promptly on a pallet.

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