Designer's Guide
Design Considerations
Separation Techniques
Types of Presses
Hardware and Software

Hiring a Printer Determine Your Needs
Finding a Printer
Communicating Needs
Ask For Samples
Hiring a Printer
Quality Control Issues

General Information General Information
  About Printing

Ink Systems
Old Vs. Modern Presses
Shirt Weaves
Environmental Issues

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[Mirror Image, Inc. presents the complete hypertext guide to the silkscreening process]

General Information About Printing

Welcome to the nuts and bolts side of the process. Anyone who is fascinated with mechanical or industrial processes should find ours to be engaging in its outward simplicity and inner complexity. This section should be helpful whether you are just a curious student who wants to print some shirts for your dorm or are an executive nervous about contracting half of your company's promotional budget to some swamp Yankee with a squeegee. This guide is not intended to delve into all of the finer points of the craft but give a concise and complete overview.

Below is a rudimentary synopsis of the process with links to the more detailed explanations.

Screen printing begins by creating the art work, which is comprised of a piece of clear film that has the image to be printed in black. The screen is created by stretching thin but durable fabric over a wood or metal frame. The fabric is then coated with a light sensitive emulsion. The film is taped to the screen and exposed to a bright light. The dark areas of the film block the light from hitting the areas of the screen that are to print, and the transparent areas allow a photo-chemical reaction to harden the emulsion. When the screen is rinsed with water the emulsion washes out of the areas that are intended to print. The screen is then clamped into a frame that holds it steady while printing. Ink is forced through the fabric by the use of a rubber bar, called a "squeegee", that is pulled across the stencil, and the shirt is held in place by adhering it to a flat board with spray adhesive. Once the inks have been applied the shirt is placed on a conveyor belt that cycles it through a dryer. The dryer fuses the components of the ink together, causing it to become "cured" and durable. Then you put it on and scream really loud because it is still about 900 degrees.


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