A Beginner’s Guide To Silkscreen Printing

Guide To Silkscreen Printing

So you’ve decided to get into silkscreen printing. You might already know that the process involved printing multiple inks on fabric by passing it through a mesh screen (usually made of silk). The process may seem complicated at first, but we’ll walk you through the basics so you can get the hang of it quickly. 

The Essentials: Equipment and Tools

If you want to be successful in printing designs then you can’t leave it all to luck. Make sure you get the best screen printing kit your budget can afford. What are the components of such a kit? Here’s a rough list:

a) Multiple screens: You’ll need one for every color you use, so you’ll likely need plenty of screens
b) Screen printing emulsion: This is an emulsion that is used to make a stencil out of your screen. They are usually sensitive to ultraviolet light. 
c) Screen exposure unit: This is the device that makes UV light to help the emulsion harden on your screen, effectively creating the stencil
d) Squeegee: You’ll use this to wipe the ink into the mesh screen.
e) Screen printing ink: This would be the ink that will finally make it onto your fabrics
f) Transparent transfer paper: This is a see-through sheet that is used to transfer the design onto the screen.

Note that there are many more tools and items that are used in screen printing, such as gloves, a pressure washer, a heat press, and more. We’ve only gone over the basics of a screen printing kit in the list above. You will also need a computer and appropriate software to design the images you intend to print. 

How The Process Works

The screen printing process is lengthy, but we can break it down into three parts. Creating the image, preparing the stencil, and printing the image. Here’s a basic guide on each of those steps.

Creating An Image For Silkscreen Printing 

You might think that drawing an image in photoshop is enough, but it won’t be. For silkscreen printing, you need to start separating the colors of the image so that you can print each color on its own. This step also determines the price of the finished project (more colors = more screens =  more work). 

Making A Stencil Out Of A Screen

The next step involved printing the image you created onto the screen and creating a stencil out of it. This is done using the UV-sensitive emulsion that will harden in the right areas when exposed to light, leaving the ink to pass through only the areas you need for your design. 

The Finale: Printing Your Design

After all that hard work, you have screens that act as a stencil and can be used to print your design directly onto your preferred fabric or another substrate. You can print multiple garments at once, using the combination of colors your design requires. 

Note that although this is the fastest step, this is also the step that most beginners have trouble with. The key is to apply light pressure and to move your squeegee in a single confident stroke from one side of the silkscreen to the other. It takes practice, but it is not overly difficult to get the hang of. Research the ‘flood and stroke’ method if you want to be a silkscreen printing master. 

Silkscreen Printing: A Hobby That Can Make You Money

That’s all you need to know as an introduction to silkscreen printing. You probably still have a long way to go, but the journey will be well worth it. You can sell your creations as hand-made crafts for top dollar, once you’re confident in your work. 

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