A step-by-step screen printing guide by ESP
Last week we linked up with @hurry_up_foraging_club to screen print over some of their unique tie-dye designs. The final result was some cool new merch’ to add to their growing collection.
We wanted to put together a screen printing guide to outline the process from start to finish to give you an insight into how you get from a blank t-shirt to a finished design.
Usually one of our suppliers would send us blank T’s over. However In this case the process started with our boys Marlon and Kane over at Hurry_Up clothing. They use an ‘ice-dyeing’ technique they’ve perfected to create some truly original dyed garments. In short they sprinkle undiluted dye powder over the garment which is then layered with ice. The ice then melts through leaving some crazy patterns and designs – oh yeah, that’s nice.
The boys then brought the t-shirts over to the screen printing team here at ESP so we could take them to the next level.
Our step-by-step screen printing guide
1. Design creation
- Firstly the client sends over their designs as vector or raster/image files. It is important that the artwork is to scale and at 300ppi to avoid ant imperfections in the printing process. For a more detailed description of artwork see our guide here.
2. Artwork set-up
- We will then perform our quality control on the artwork to ensure it is good enough to go through to print. Once it has been given the OK we will then separate the artwork out into different sections and colour blocks using Adobe Photoshop. Each layer is then printed in black (to stop light passing through) onto transparent acetate film ready to start screen printing.
3. Screen preparation
- Firstly the screens are meticulously cleaned as any dust or fingerprints could potentially ruin a screen printing run.
- Once the screen is dry, photosynthesised emulsion is then applied as a solid even coat using a scoop coater.
4. Exposing the emulsion
- The transparent film is then placed on to the emulsion coated screen and positioned face down into an LED exposure unit. They will then be exposed for about a minute and a half. This allows the emulsion to harden.
- This step is more complicated with the addition of more colours as each stencil must be designed for each colour.
5. The Printing process
- The garment is placed on a pallet on our mhm automatic screen printing machine and the screen is then placed in one of the heads of the machine.
- The screen is then lowered down onto the printing board just above the garment. A layer of coloured ink is then applied to the top of the screen and dragged across using a squeegee so that it covers the full stencil. This leaves a pattern of ink on the garment in the shape in the stencil and is then repeated depending on how many layers /colours the design has. Finally the garment is passed through a special dryer at a high temperature to ensure that the ink is cured
6. The final product
- Once dried the garment is ready to go! In the case of Hurry_Up you are left with some seriously wavy prints that can’t be replicated with the likes of digital printing.