top of page

The process of using a mesh stencil (Screen) to push ink through onto a 

surface which is then dried with heat (cured) in order to fuse the ink to the print surface.  The process of Screen Printing can be broken down into (4) parts:


  • Artwork Preparation – just like the name this is simply getting the artwork ready for the needs of screen printing.

    • In this initial phase the artwork or design to be printed is either created or provided in Vector format.  Vector is a high resolution file (300 dpi or dots per inch) that is able to be manipulated (resized or otherwise reshaped) without loosing any integrity to the sharp or crispness of the line/shape. Vector files are created in programs like Adobe Illustrator and tend to end in (.ai, .eps or .pdf).   ** If you can open the file on your phone and / or zoom in on the image and it begins to become blurry… it is not Vector**  

    • Once the Vector artwork is prepared then each individual color in the design will be printed out separately onto a transparent film using a special high density black ink.


  • Screen Preparation – this is creating the stencil.

    • In this phase the screens will be coated with emulsion(light sensitive coating which hardens to create a stencil) and left to dry.  

    • Once dried the previously printed film will then be aligned to the screen based on the specifications of the design to be printed.  Each color receives its own individual screen.  

    • The screen is then exposed to U.V. light where the emulsion hardens around the transparent areas of the film and stays unaffected where the black ink of your design has been deposited on the film.

    • Next the exposed screen is taken to a washout boothwhere the unexposed emulsion is “washed out” with water from a pressure washer.

    • The screen is now a stencil of the design and is left to dry, ideally in the sun to strength the remaining now wet emulsion.

  • On the Press– this is where the designs come to life.

    • The dry screens are placed on the press in a specific order for printing.  The screens are taped off to ensure ink only passes through the intended stencil of the design.

    • Each screen or color is then registered or lined up to the other screens or colors to ensure proper placement of all colors in the design down to details so small they can barely be seen.

    • Once aligned the production run begins and your job is printed.

  • Breakdown– The job is done 

    • Remaining ink is saved or disposed of depending on the job and future needs.

    • Screens are removed and taken back to the washout booth where they are reclaimed(cleaned and stripped of the design stencil as well as all remaining ink and emulsion).  Once clean they are then degreased of any remaining impurities and dried before being used again.


There are several methods or processes in which screen printing can be utilized ranging from the ink used to the manner in which the ink interacts with the garment.

  • Plastisol– it is made of plastic just like it sounds. It is the most commonly used ink and what most people see on a daily basis.. the print sits on top of the garment surface.

  • Water Based– just like it sounds the ink is more environmentally friendly and soaks into the fibers of the shirt for a softer feel.

  • Discharge– a process in which the design area of the shirt is returned to its natural or pre-dye color at which time color(s) can be added to that original color.

  • CMYK– using special Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks to sit on top each other and create any number of color combinations in the design.   This is used for White or very light colored garments.

  • Spot Process– similar to CMYK however for darker colored garments, this process also uses special inks to be printed in a specific order to make a multitude of necessary colors in the design as the inks interact with each other.

bottom of page