El Cajon Silk Screening
We often get a lot of good questions at Extra Graphic about silk screening and screen printing from our customers in El Cajon. What is silk screening? How is the process done? Aren’t silk screening and screen printing the same thing? Actually, yes they are. However, before we get into what has changed about the process, let’s get a little bit into the history of how screen printing came about and why it’s a popular method today for printing custom t-shirts.
What Is Silk Screening?
Silk screening, or what is commonly known today as screen printing, is the process of transferring a stenciled design, color by color, onto a flat surface with a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. The mesh screen can be made of different materials such as silk, polyester, nylon, or stainless steel. Different mesh sizes determine the detail of a printed design depending on what material is being used to print on.
Why Is Silk Screening Now Called Screen Printing?
Screen printing was previously done with a silk screen, hence the name silk screening. The term of the process changed due to the fact that silk was expensive and rare outside of Asia, and it was replaced with polyester in the 1960s. Since then, polyester mesh screens have been the more popular screen used to screen print on surfaces such as t-shirts and paper. And now with specialized inks, screen printing can be used to print on even more surfaces like wood, plastic, metal, and even glass.
A Brief History Of Screen Printing
It’s said that silk screening originated in China around AD 960, which was the beginning of the Song Dynasty. The Chinese used forced ink techniques to create images of Buddha. The Japanese soon caught on to this printing technique and improved on it, creating an art form called katagami.
In 1907 Samuel Simon of Manchester, England patented the printing process to create fancy wallpapers for wealthy families. His technique became popular not only to print wallpapers but also for printing advertisements. Later, in the 1960s, polyester replaced silk and people started using screen printing for customizing t-shirts, something nobody has ever done before.
The 1960s were a great decade for screen printing, for this was also the time when it became a legitimate art form. American artists experimented with the process to create works of art, known as serigraphy. One of the break-out stars of serigraphy was Andy Warhol, with his famous 1962 print of Marilyn Monroe.
What Is The Screen Printing Process?
The process for screen printing is very complicated but it results in a high-quality, long-lasting product. If multiple colors are used in a single design, then this process is repeated for each color and the printer needs to carefully create each stencil so that it lines up perfectly to ensure the final design is seamless. Because this process has to be repeated for multiple colors and the extra care it takes to make sure the end products are perfect, more colors mean a higher cost. It is more cost-efficient to have your designs with only one or two colors if you’re set on having your items screen printed.
- The Design Is Created- First, the design is printed onto an acetate film, which is used to create the stencil.
- Prepping The Screen- The mesh screen is chosen by the printer to suit the complexity of the design and the fabric being used. The screen gets coated with a layer of light-reactive emulsion.
- The Emulsion Is Exposed- The acetate film containing the design is placed on the screen, and the whole thing is exposed to very bright light. This light hardens the emulsion and the parts that are covered by the design are left in a liquid state.
- The Emulsion Is Washed Off- Any unhardened emulsion is carefully rinsed off, leaving holes in the mesh for the ink to pass through the design. The screen is dried, and any necessary touch-ups are done.
- The Item Is Prepped For Print- The screen is then placed on the printing press, and the item of clothing is placed on the printing board underneath the screen.
- The Ink Is Pressed Through- The screen comes down on top of the item. Ink is added to the screen, and a squeegee is used to pull the ink down the full length of the screen, pressing the ink through the mesh and onto the item.
- The Item Is Cured- The printed product then goes through a dryer which cures the ink and creates a smooth finish. The item is then checked for quality and washed thoroughly to remove any residue before going to its new owner.
Why Choose Extra Graphic For Your El Cajon Screen Printing Needs?
Now that you know how screen printing began, what the process is, and how it became popular as a form of art, here are some great reasons why you should call Extra Graphic for your custom screen printing projects in El Cajon:
- We’ve been custom screen printing for over 15 years now and we know the ins and outs of making your design look its best with any style of printing we offer.
- We offer a large selection of apparel styles for printing.
- We strive to give you the best-printed apparel possible.
- We’re affordably priced.
- You can order anytime, we’ll keep pace with your schedule.
- Fast Turnaround! Most orders are ready in 7-10 business days.
There are many styles and options available for your customized t-shirt project. We at Extra Graphic are always happy to offer advice on what method of printing will best fit your project and your budget. You are also more than welcome to stop by our studio on Iowa Street to ask any questions you may have for your printing needs! Being the local leader of high-quality apparel printing in San Diego, we guarantee the quality of your printed projects. When other printers disappoint, Extra Graphic delivers!
Call us for more info at (619)-354-XTRA today!