Screen printing still has its traditional skills and expertise.
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Screen printing is the process of transferring a stencilled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee. Fabric and paper are the most commonly screen-printed surfaces, but with specialised inks it’s also possible to print onto wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. The basic method involves creating a stencil on a fine mesh screen, and then pushing ink (or paint, in the case of artwork and posters) through to create an imprint of your design on the surface beneath.
The process is sometimes called 'silk screening' or 'silk screen printing' and while the actual printing process is always fairly similar, the way the stencil is created can vary, depending on the materials used. Different stencilling techniques include:
Using masking tape or vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen.
Painting the stencil onto the mesh using 'screen blockers' such as glue or lacquer.
Using a light-sensitive emulsion to create a stencil, which is then developed in a similar way to a photograph.
Designs made using the screen printing technique may use just one shade of ink, or several. In the case of multicoloured items, the colours must be applied in individual layers, using separate stencils for each ink.
Why is screen printing used?
One of the reasons that the screen printing technique is so widely used is because it produces vivid colours, even on darker fabrics. The ink or paint also lies in layers on the surface of the fabric or paper, which gives the print a pleasingly tactile quality.
The technique is also favoured because it allows the printer to easily reproduce a design multiple times. Because the same stencil can be used to replicate a design again and again, it's very useful for creating multiple copies of the same substrate.
When carried out using professional equipment by an experienced printer, it's also possible to create intricate multicoloured designs. While the complexity of the process does mean there's a limit to the number of colours the printer can use, it does allow for more intense colouring than is possible to achieve with digital printing.
Here at Speedscreen we regular print up to 30 spot colours – especially preferred by Urban Artists.