Screen printing is one of the most preferred ways of creating graphics on t-shirts. The technique uses a chemical process known as photo emulsion to transfer the design from a piece of paper onto the fabric.
Below are the steps you should follow to get perfect results from your screen printing process.
Select The t-Shirt To Use
This is the first step, and you should choose a plain t-shirt. The color of the t-shirt depends on the color of the graphics you want to ensure it pops instead of blending in.
The t-shirt should also be clean but free of detergent or fabric softener to ensure the design adheres well. You should also iron your shirt or lay it flat to eliminate wrinkles and folds.
Get Your Art Work
Whether designing the artwork or getting it online, you should know that you can only print one color at a time. Start by drawing or downloading black and white images. You can use Illustrator, Microsoft Word, Photoshop, or Microsoft PowerPoint to edit your photos and get the desired colors.
Print your artwork on a transparency sheet, also known as a film positive. You need to replace regular printing papers and might have to change your printer settings.
Set Up The Silkscreen
Silkscreens are wooden or aluminum frames covered with a thin mesh. This mesh holds your design in place and allows ink to get through after pressing it with a squeegee. To expose the design to your t-shirt, you must cover the mesh with emulsion.
To minimize or eliminate damage to your workstation, you can cover it with newspapers or a tarp. The following step is mixing your emulsion and sensitizer, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This mixture transforms your silkscreen into a stencil with your artwork. Ensure you have gloves and use a disposable utensil to mix the chemicals.
Elevate the flat side of your silkscreen to ensure it is not in contact with your work surface. To elevate it, grip its frame with one hand, push a pin into the frame’s corner, and repeat for all corners. Place your frame on the working surface to rest on the push pins.
Coat The Silkscreen With Emulsion
Before pouring the emulsion on your silkscreen, clean it using a screen printing degreaser. That eliminated lint, dust, and other particles that might create pinholes or bumps in the emulsion.
Before beginning the process, ensure you cover the doors and windows to the room to make it dim and have light-safe yellow bulbs. This way, the emulsion will not dry prematurely.
Pour emulsion into the screen and spread it gently using a squeegee until you have a thin coat. Ensure not to use too much emulsion because it might drip off the silkscreen, creating bumps in the coating.
Create The Design
After the screen dries, alight it with your film positive and expose it with an exposure lightbulb or screen printing exposure unit. The screen will harden after light exposure, but the black areas of your film positive prevent light from reaching the emulsion, leaving those areas soft. Follow that by rinsing the silkscreen and eliminating the soft parts.
The final step is setting up the silkscreen on a screen printing press. Before clamping the screen on the press, tape off its edges using screen printing tape to prevent ink from spreading.
A press with micro registration or a laser guiding system makes it easier. After determining that your screens are in registration, do a test print to see if everything is aligned.