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SCREENPRINTING 101:
PROCESS & CONSIDERATIONS

So you'd like to get something screenprinted? Here are a few things you should know:

1) Screenprinting is an economical way to customize a large quantity of items, especially if the logo is large. However, screenprinting is far from automatic - it requires the following steps to occur:

1) Artwork provided (or prepared) in a "camera-ready" format - each individual colour needs to be made in to BLACK & WHITE (no grayscale) so that the design can be exposed on to a screen. The final product is not restricted to being printed in black and white - you can choose which colour ink you want to have pushed through the screen once the screen has been made.

2) Screen preparation - involves coating the screen with a light-sensitive emulsion. Once the emulsion has dried on the screen, the black and white artwork is taped on to the screen, and light is passed through the screen. The areas where the BLACK of the logo blocks the light remain water soluble while the emulsion that is exposed to the light becomes a solid. Once the screen has been exposed for a sufficient amount of time, the screen is rinsed with water and the design appears as an area on the screen where the emulsion has washed out (so that ink can be pushed through the screen). This process is repeated for each colour in a design.

3) Screens are taped and placed in a carousel. The carousel can hold up to 6 screens which can be "registered" so that the screens are lowered to exactly the same position on a garment every time.

4) The apparel/substrate is placed on a flat platen where the screens are positioned to print the logo. The logo is printed by the action of the printer using a rubber squeegie to push the ink through the open part of the screen, thus laying down a layer of ink in the shape of the original design. Any colour of ink can be used.

5) Once the apparel/subtrate has been printed, the ink needs to be cured at a temperature of 200-375 degrees celsius. This is accomplished by using a conveyor belt dryer, or a spot dryer. If the ink is not cured properly, it will wash off in the wash.

6) If the apparel is dark in colour, and the ink is light, it will often require that two "hits" of ink will have to be laid down one right on top of the other (after the first hit of ink has been cured). This is to ensure that the ink is opaque enough on the dark garment, and often incurs an additional cost.

2) Pricing is largely based on quantity and number of colours in a logo. If you want a 1 colour design, only one screen needs to be made up, but if you want 4 colours, then 4 separate screens must be made. Each screen is made at a flat-rate due to the work involved. Once a job is set-up, then there are price breaks for larger quantities of the same order because of the repetitious nature of printing. However, individual names and variations in the design as well as player numbers incur an additional fee because the screens need to be changed, set-up, tested, and then printed (in other words, the process for individualization is not repetitious at all and takes a long time to do).

3) Tips for getting the best bang for your buck:

1) Keep the number of colours in your design to a minimum.

2) Keep the number of locations that you want printed to a minimum. (i.e. can a sleeve logo be included on the back design?)

3) Do the artwork yourself - in black and white - and submit it in vector format (i.e. Adobe 9.0 or lower)

4) Order as many items as possible. The more items that you can share the flat-rate cost of the screen preparation over, the better.

copyright 2009 Brian Taguchi - Gonys McFly