The process of screen printing has been around for centuries. It is a technique where ink is transferred onto a substrate by forcing ink through a mesh except in areas that have been made impermeable by a blocking stencil. In the early days, the mesh was made using silk which led to the term silk screening. The technique has not changed, but the materials have been modernized and improved.
In 1960, an American entrepreneur invented a rotatable multicolor garment screen printing machine initially used for decorating bowling shirts. During the 60s, this technology was responsible for the growth in printed t-shirts. The patented machine remains the basis for much of the equipment used in the industry today. Improvements and automation have made the process much more productive.
Most screen printing consists of one or more “spot” colors. A screen allows an individual color to be applied in a specific area. Additional colors are applied subsequently in effect layering on top of each other to ultimately form a multi-color image. The limitation is that there is no shading or fading from one color to another. Due to the required machine set up and making of screens, this process is geared for batches of at least twelve and maybe more depending on the number of colors in the design. Graphics technology, screen printer talent and material improvements recently have led to what is known as “simulated full color processing” It lets a screen printer “blend” colors and give the appearance of a full color print. This technique requires a very sophisticated color separation, equipment set up and many different colors. The result is a very costly t-shirt unless you are doing very large volumes
At Branding Pros, we have both manual and fully automatic presses which allow us to everything from small one color jobs to the simulated full color jobs described above. All done right here in our shop with local people!