So, how do shirts get screen printed?
It usually starts from an idea. Lets print up some shirts. The first thing we need to do is get some art together. Art is usually, or most often hand drawn as an idea. Then the art needs to be converted to vector art. Vector art is art that can be sized without losing resolution. It is usually an Adobe Illustrator file or a Corel Draw file. If art is sent to us in a non vector format. ie a low resolution .jpg file, we need to convert it to a high resolution graphic. There is a fee associated with this. We usually charge between $20.00 and $40.00 to make the conversion, depending on the complexity of the graphic.
Is that it? Oh no. So then we need to get screens ready. Screens are literally screen printing screens. Each color and location requires a separate screen. For example if you have 2 colors on the front pocket area, we will need to create 2 screens. We print one color then flash cure it. (which is a quick cure), then print the second color and then fully cure the shirt. It takes a good bit of effort to line everything up correctly.
So what is involved with a screen? This is a fairly complicated process, and is why there is a screen charge. First thing is to fully clean the screen from the last usage. This takes about 20 minutes and involves cleaning all emulsion and ink from the screen leaving no spots. We then let the screen fully dry. Once the screen is fully dried, we put 2 layers of emulsion on the back, and 1 layer of emulsion on the front. Emulsion is a light sensitive formula that allows us to create a screen. We then let the emulsion dry for a minimum of 6 hours. Your artwork is printed in black on transparent paper and then placed on the screen. The screen is put in an exposure box and “burned”. Basically light cures the emulsion in all areas except your design. We then take it to a sprayer and spray out the printed area. We then let the screen dry, tape up the edges and put on the printing press.
Each color is lined up perfectly and we use a squeegee to press the ink onto the shirt. Then we run the shirt through a high temperature dryer to cure the ink to the shirt.
The shirts are then inspected and folded and boxed and are ready for you!