Screen Printing

Screen Printing is the process of using a meshed-based stencil to apply ink onto a substrate. Screen printing first appeared in a recognizable form in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.).

General Terms and Materials:

Plastisol
-is the most common ink used in commercial garment decoration. Good colour opacity onto dark garments and clear graphic detail with, as the name suggests, a more plasticized texture. This print can be made softer with special additives or heavier by adding extra laters of ink. Plastisol inks require heat (approx. 150° C (300° F) for many inks) to cure the print.

PVC and Phthalate Free
-is a relatively new breed of ink and printing. It has the benefits of plastisol, but lacks the two main toxic components that are found in plastisol. It also has a soft texture.

Water-Based Inks
-these penetrate the fabric more than the plastisol inks and create a much softer feel. Ideal for printing darker inks onto lighter coloured garments. Also useful for larger area prints where texture is important. Some inks require heat or an added catalyst to make the print permanent.

Discharge Inks
-used to print lighter colours onto dark background fabrics, they work by removing the dye of the garment – this means they leave a much softer texture. The cons with this process is that it is less graphic in nature than plastisol inks, and exact colours are difficult to control. One of the pros of using this process is that it is especially good for distressed prints and under-basing on dark garments that are to be printed with additional layers of plastisol. It adds variety to the design or gives it that natural soft feel.

Glitters/Shimmer
-is when metallic flakes become an additive in the ink base to create this sparkle effect. Usually available in gold or silver but can be mixed to make most colours.

Expanding Ink (Puff)
-is an additive to plastisol inks which raises the print off the garment, creating a 3D feel and look to the design. Mostly used when printing on apparel.

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