An Introduction into Screen Printing
Screen printing is a popular printing technique which is often used by artists for their work, and also for commercial applications for example printing a company logo onto mugs or screen printed shirts.
The screen printing method has been used for hundreds and hundreds of years. The technique involves transferring an image onto fabric, paper or another surface by pressing ink through a screen (sheet of woven mesh fixed to a wooden frame) with some areas blocked off by a stencil. The ink is then dragged over the screen using a squeegee and forced through the clear areas of mesh sheet, which transfers it onto the intended surface.
Once the screen printing job is finished, the ink and blocking emulsion are washed off the screen in a 3-step system to ensure the screen is completely clear of all substances. It is then ready to be re-used and for new blocking emulsion to be applied for the next print job.
Screen printing is used to print display boards, items of clothing, wallpaper, posters, and even control panels of electronic products.
The artist Andy Warhol is recognised and given credit for popularising screen printing as an artistic technique. This technique has been picked up by many artists and is now so popular that students are able to take a degree that is solely focussed on screen printing in universities.
Screen printing is more versatile than a lot of more traditional printing techniques. A variety of different inks can be used with a wide range of materials. These surfaces you are able to screen print on include;
As a result of its versatility, screen printing is used in many different industries, including:
- Textile fabric
- Medical devices
- Printed electronics
- Signs and displays
- Snowboard graphics
- Thick film technology
- Pinball machines
- Product labels
Screen printing is a very popular technique used by companies who provide branded products, such as promotional t-shirts, mugs, bags, and keyrings. It is a relatively cost effective method when mass producing a bulk load of printed items. It can be expensive when doing singular, one off prints for example made by an artist or art student producing work.
If you are screen printing, you must ensure that you use a screen with the correct mesh count for your surface, for example, for fabric printing, you should use a screen with a mesh count of 110 or 160.
Although there are many modern printing techniques being developed and used in the industry, such as digital and laser printing, screen printing shows no sign of going anywhere!