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What Does it Take to Screen Print Shirts?

Every now and again, a client will come into our shop and ask why their order can't be printed while they wait. We try and explain to them that screen printing isn't as simple, or as fast, as hitting print on a printer. We understand that for most of our clients, the process can seem a bit confusing so we wanted to share a bit about what the screen printing process entails. In this blog, we will take a quick look at the six steps it takes to print a beautiful shirt, assuming we are able to get the stock delivered in a timely manner!

1. Passion

Screen printing at its core is art, and in order to print beautiful designs on apparel, you must treat it with the respect it requires. Our team has spent years learning and growing our passion for this art form. Even though technology is constantly changing, the one thing that can never waiver, when it comes to screen printing, is passion. After 15 years in the business it never gets old watching the team crank out 600 shirts an hour and all of the print detail that gets created with such efficiency.

2. A Lot of Elbow Grease

Running a screen print machine is just half of the work. The process to printing is messy and requires grit. It takes hours of reclaiming and cleaning dirty screens to make them shine for use again. Also, the ink we use never dries or cures until it hits 330 degrees. That means we have rigorous cleaning procedures in place so that we don’t have ink wondering around the shop. Trust us…it spreads fast!

3. Burn the Screens

Once you and our creative team are satisfied with the art proof we then “burn” the image into the screen. Just think of an old school camera….(Kids will not understand this analogy). The screen has a layer of emulsion on it that acts just like film. This will create space for the ink to pass through the mesh. We chose different screen mesh counts to create more or less detail. For example, a 110 screen will let a lot of ink through but it will not hold fine text, whereas a 320 screen will hold very fine features but use very little ink. After a little UV light and some water to wash out the image, we are getting close to printing the shirt.

4. Registration

Depending on the number of colors that your design has, it can take some time to get your shirt printed. Screen registration is the alignment of the screen image with the art getting printed. This is one of the many areas that the leaders at ColePromo train a lot on to save time and heartache. All of the colors in the print have to line up perfectly so that the art pops on the shirt.

5. Run the Job

Now it's time to print! We have invested lots of money, as well as training, to make life easier for our team. We have fully automated machines which will help us get products out faster and keep the team happy and healthy. Once these machines are set and registered it is time to “throw shirts.” Throwing shirts is a skill and it takes some time to get in a groove to throw them at 600 an hour. When we are in production mode it is a constant flow of filling ink, boxing shirts that are done, and watching for quality control.

6: A Happy Client

At ColePromo, we strive to make you happy with your prints so that you want to share where you got your shirts made from! A successful print job for us is one where you are thrilled with your apparel.

Obviously there are other smaller steps in between these steps, but at the end of the day, we try and boil down our process to these six simple steps to ensure that we are pleased with prints we create! Feel free to drop us a comment below if you have any questions that we can answer for you about the process of screen printing!

#screenprinting #shoplife #screenregistration

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