Screen Printing: Getting Started for Beginners

Interested in the silkscreen ? If you want to join this technique that is so in demand by clients, here you will learn all the steps silk screen printing. Keep reading and you will learn about both the process and materials necessary to achieve the best results.

Preparation of the design and the photolith
The choice of design is important. It can be your own or from the internet, but always with quality. It must also be taken into account that in screen printing, each color of the design represents a screen. Knowing this, you must separate the colors of your design and create a screen for each color. In any case, to start it is better to choose simple designs, preferably in one or two colors.

Important information! When you dare with more colors, you have to include registration marks on the photolith so that they are also transferred to the screen during the exposure process. These registration marks allow the second screen to be correctly aligned on the first color design.

Once the design has been selected, you must print it in black on a polyester film for photoliths . The function of the photolith is to prevent light from reaching the screen, right where the image is printed. Learn how to print the photolith correctly with our post: ” Print photoliths for little money and from your workshop .”

Screen selection
The screen is made up of a wooden or aluminum frame in which a fabric or mesh is stretched . When selecting the screen we must take into account which item we are going to screen print.

The size of the design and the article will determine the dimensions of the screen that we are going to use. The drawing will determine the mesh that we should choose, if it has very small details it will be a mesh with a greater number of threads per cm. Don’t know which one to choose? We help you ” Screen printing meshes: Learn to choose the one that best suits you .”

This step consists of applying a photoreactive emulsion on the screen mesh or fabric . To do this you have to work in a dark room, with a red or yellow safety light. Avoid exposure to natural light or fluorescent light or light bulbs at all times.

Application mode:

The frame must be inclined 45º. One pass of emulsion is applied to the external side of the screen and two to the internal side. Always in this order. Use a scraper to distribute the emulsion evenly and create a uniform film.
Place the frame horizontally , with the outside side (print side) down to get a thin layer of emulsion.
Let the screen dry in this position for twenty-four hours, at a temperature of 25-35 ºC and a maximum relative humidity of 50% or use a drying oven for screen printing screens.

Remember that you are still working in a dark room. Now you must place the photolith on the external face of the screen inside the insolator . Check that the photolith is in contact with the screen. The emulsion is a light sensitive product, so the entire screen must be exposed to light except the dark part of the photolith.

Turn on the insolator and expose the screen to light to achieve development. It is important that insolation is carried out for the correct amount of time. Less time will result in weak designs while too much time could mask smaller details or make development impossible.

This step is also done in a dark room. To do the development, the frame is removed from the insolator and washed by applying a gentle jet of water to both sides of the screen until the design can be seen. Next, with greater pressure, wash the external side of the screen until all the emulsion not exposed to light is removed. Let the screen dry at room temperature or with the help of a pre-drying flash . When it is completely dry, tape should be applied to the edges to prevent the ink from entering through the joint of the frame and the fabric.

Screen printed or printed
The time has come to stamp. The first step is to secure the t-shirt to the base of the machine with an adhesive spray . Place the screen over the area of ​​the t-shirt you want to print, and prepare your screen (there are different hardnesses depending on the type of screen printing work you are going to do). Apply a small amount of ink horizontally across the top of the screen. Spread the ink while pressing along the screen with the help of the squeegee . Glide the ink in a continuous motion covering the entire design.

Drying or curing of the ink
After screen printing, there is one last very important step: curing the inks to ensure perfect fixation and maximum durability. It is not enough to dry at room temperature. You must use a flash dryer, a transfer iron or a drying tunnel . The objective is for the stamping to reach the indicated temperature during the time indicated by the manufacturer.

List of necessary materials
If you are interested in incorporating this marking technique, we recommend that you purchase this starter pack . It is a very creative process, but it requires some learning, which you will only acquire by screen printing, so do your own tests! With the right tools and using them correctly you will obtain a professional result.

Leave a Reply