Learn How To Screen Print With Catspit Productions, LLC
The Basic Tools And Steps Involved In Screenprinting
Many people look for a basic checklist or overview of screen printing which will inform them about the minimal tools and equipment they need as well as the basic steps involved. We can break the process down into simple steps and list the basic tools needed to screen print at home for instance. Remember, this is a very brief overview in the form of lists. This will give you the most basic information needed to start to plan your screen printing endeavors with more ease. However, you are encouraged to learn more about screen printing by exploring this website.
Artwork - This is the first step in doing any type of screen printing. You must create art that will be suitable for screen printing. It takes time and experience to know what will print well and what will not. Most artwork is created in Illustrator, Corel, or Photoshop. It is best to work with vector art. Artwork with multiple colors will need to be separated. Each color is pulled out from the original image and put on a separate layer so that it may be printed in black by itself. These are known as film separations or color separations. This step will require a computer and a printer as well as inkjet or laser film.
Film Positives - After your artwork is created and/or separated you will need to convert it to all black and produce what are known film positives. This is simply your design in all black on a clear film like overhead transparencies but much more opaque. If your art has more than one color, you will need a film positive for each different color. This is where you print the film separations out onto your clear film. It is this film positive that you will use to make your screen. This step will require a computer and a printer as well as inkjet or laser film.
Screen Making - You will need a screen on which you will make the stencil that the ink will pass through onto your shirt. There are many details to screen making and this may be one of the hardest parts for beginners to learn and do well. Once you have a screen it will need to be degreased before you coat it with emulsion. The emulsion is the light sensitive liquid that will be coated onto the mesh and left to dry. Once it is dry, it is exposed with the film positives in order to make a stencil. This step will require screen making chemicals, a garden hose and an exposure unit or other way to expose your film and screen to UV light.
The following is a basic list of equipment needed to screen print tee shirts with plastisol inks:Computer and printer with graphic software to create artwork and film positives.
Exposure unit to make stencils using UV light sensitive emulsion on the screens.
Washout booth and garden hose to wash out your stencil on the screen.
Drying rack to dry screens after prepping them for emulsion or coating with emulsion.
Dark room to coat screens as well as dry and store your emulsion coated screen for future usage.
Screen printing press to print the tee shirts with ease and consistency.
Flash cure unit to either flash cure between colors or cure 1 color prints.
Belt dryer to cure your printed shirts at 330 degrees F. Plastisol inks are heat cured.
Pressure washer with washout booth to reclaim and reuse your screens.
Scoop coater to coat screens with emulsion.
Squeegees to push ink through your stencil on the screen and onto the shirt.
Screens with mesh to make your stencils on and print the shirts.
Ink scoops or spatulas to get ink form the bucket to the screen and back again.
Ruler and t square for marking pallets with a Sharpie and aligning film on screens.
Temperature meter to check the curing temperature of plastisol ink on shirts.
Red safelight for your darkroom or screen making area.
Spot cleaning gun for removing unwanted spots of cured plastisol ink from printed shirts.
Chemical resistant spray bottles for screen making chemicals.
Scrub brushes to remove emulsion and/or degrease screens.
The following is a basic list of chemicals or consumables needed to screen print tee shirts with plastisol inks:
Emulsion to coat your screens and make the stencil.
Emulsion remover to remove emulsion from your screen in order to reuse the screen.
Ink solvents to clean up ink and clean screens or tools used to handle inks.
Haze remover to clean the screen mesh of any staining from prior usages.
Mesh prep to clean the screen of any grease or debris before coating it with emulsion.
Plastisol inks or water based inks to print the tee shirts with.
Spray tacks to keep the tee shirt securely fixed to the printing pallet during the print run.
Masking tape or screen tape to block off the sides of the screen or unwanted portions of stencil on the screen.
Clear Scotch tape to tape the film positives onto the emulsion coated screen during exposure.
Inkjet or laser film for making your film positives from your artwork.
Spot cleaning fluid for the spot cleaning gun.
Scorch out to remove yellowing from white shirts that turn yellowish from excessive heat.
Please remember this is an abbreviated version of the process. It is intended to be more of a list of things needed to screen print. Some of the above mentioned items may be supplemented with other household items. For a more detailed and comprehensive overview, please see the Printing Articles main page.