How to Screen Print

Watch the video below to see the many steps involved in screen printing your custom t-shirts. Screen printing is the art of layering ink colors onto a fabric to create your desired design. The design is transferred to a fine mesh screen using a stencil and photo emulsifier. The emulsifier blocks all areas of the screen that ink should not go through onto the garment. The emulsifier is washed off the areas of the screen that should transfer ink onto the t-shirt. Each color requires it’s own screen. Once the screens are made a squeegee is used to press ink through the mesh onto the shirts. It is flash dried before another ink color is applied. After all of the colors in the design are transferred to the shirt through the mesh screen, the shirt goes into a dryer to cure. Once cured, the design will not wash off.

Screen Printing Techniques and Inks

The techniques and inks used to produce your custom apparel will affect the way the end product looks and feels. Below are examples of some of the ways to print your design. We are happy to make suggestions about how to produce your t-shirt or garment once we take a look at your design.

Plastisol Ink (This is the most widely used ink in screen printing)

Screen printing with plastisol ink is the most durable of all prints and it also allows for the most accurate reproduction of PMS colors because of the opacity of the ink. Screens are used to transfer one color of ink at a time onto the garment.  The more colors (screens) you use in your art, the more costly the screen print charge will be.

How to pick the right T-shirt starts with understanding the fabric

Discharge / Water base ink

Unlike printing with Plastisol, Screen Printing with water based inks will provide you with a softer “vintage feeling” print. This is due to the color pigment being suspended in a “water” base which is evaporated during the curing process. Most of the color penetrates into the fabric which leaves a softer feeling print. The print will soften after the first wash and when cured correctly will last the life of the shirt. Waterbase colors only work on light colored shirts unless combined with a discharge agent.

Discharge printing is accomplished using a special water based ink that actually removes the dyes from the shirt leaving the natural color fibers. This will yield an extremely soft print for your shirts. It can be used by itself, as an underbase on dark shirts for plastisol screen printing, or combined with color pigments to achieve a dye discharge color. Discharge screen printing is less detailed than plastisol and exact colors are difficult to achieve, however they are great for vintage and distressed looks.

Index / Simulated Process printing

Simulated process is great for reproducing photographic, complex artwork with opaque, vibrant spot colors. This process prints much cleaner than traditional process printing, and is the only direct screen-printing option for printing photographs on dark shirts. We hand pick the colors in the composition, which gives us much more control over the finished product, resulting in rich, vibrant, faithfully reproduced design

Textile Foil

Textile foil adds tremendous value to any apparel item. It is not uncommon to see retail shirts with foil added cost over $50 in retail shops. We have a variety of colors, our most popular being silver. You can combine foil with screen-printing, rhinestones, water based inks, discharge, flock, and many other techniques.

Heat transfers

Heat transfers give us the ability to do full color images on dark and light colored shirts, jackets, bags etc. It’s especially good for doing multicolor images on foam trucker caps or nylon materials like bags and jackets with a nylon outer shell. 

Rhinestones

Add some bling, and add a huge amount of value to any shirt design. Not only do we offer a bunch of rhinestone colors, but we also offer a huge selection of studs and shapes. All can be combined with other forms of printing and embroidery to add even more value. When requesting a quote, make sure you state the exact size and color of the stones or studs.

Over sized prints

The all over print is achieved by printing on large scale screens. We can print up to 4 colors using 17″ x 20″ screens.

DTG

Direct to garment printing is like taking your t-shirt and running it through your inkjet printer. Water based ink is applied to the shirt and it is done digitally so it can full color and contain lots of gradients and still keep the detail. This is cost effective if you have a full color design and want to print a low quantity of shirts because you will bypass the multiple screen set ups. We print any order under 36 shirts using the DTG method. Over 36 we will most likely screen print them for you. However, we will evaluate your design and make the most cost effective suggestion for you.

Pricing Rule of Thumb

Just a few things to keep in mind when you are setting up your design, Each color you add to the design will add a set up /screen cost. Each location of printing you add will also add a set up/screen cost. To keep your costs low, design with fewer colors in one location. If the shirt color is darker than the ink color then we will have to print a base quote before we print the actual color you would like, For example, let’s say you would want a black shirt printined in pink. You might think that would be one set up charge but when you include the base it is two set up charges. The reason we need to print a base is so that the dark shirt will not show through the lighter ink color. To help understand this imagine if the walls of your room were painted black and you wanted to paint them pink. You would first have to paint a primer on the walls and then the lighter color on top of that. It is the same process when you screen print.

If your design has lots of colors or is full color than we would print an index print for higher volume orders or a DTG print for lower volume orders. 

Printed with water based ink

Printed with a light Hand Chino Print

Printed as a full color index print. 

Our Minimum order for screen printing is 37 items. 

However, we can print fewer shirts with our DTG method. Click the link to order less than 36. Contact us for a quote for over 36 to recieve better pricing.

37+

Services We Offer

Screen Print

Embroidery

Design

Web Stores