The screen printing process is a direct printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. Traditionally, the process was also called silk screen print because silk was used in the process. It is also known as serigraphy and serigraph printing. We discuss about the craft along with the pros and cons of screen printing.
Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh or screen is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. The impermeable areas are created with the help of photographic emulsion. The photographic emulsion technique involves the photosensitive substance reacting with light and becoming insoluble. This screen is made of fine material. Nylon, polyester or silk have been used till the recent addition of metallic fibres for screen printing fabric mesh. There are various types of mesh size which will determine the outcome and look of the finished design on the material. The fabric count is such that it is possible for the print paste to pass through the interstices between the yarns.
As with other methods of colour transfer, the number of screens needed for a design will depend on the number of colours used. The width of the screen decides the repeat size of the print.
Screen printing first appeared in a recognizable form in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD). It was then adapted by other Asian countries like Japan and was further created using newer methods.
The screen printing process was largely introduced to Western Europe from Asia sometime in the late 18th century but did not gain large acceptance or use in Europe until silk mesh was more available for trade from the east and a profitable outlet for the medium discovered.
1. It produces vivid colours, even on darker fabrics.
2. The ink or paint lies in layers on the surface of the fabric or paper, which gives the print a pleasingly tactile quality.
3. The technique allows the printer to easily reproduce a design multiple times since the same stencil can be used to replicate a design again and again.
4. Though the initial setup may be expensive but it is worth the one time investment since it is an efficient technique for creating large batches of custom clothing for sports teams or work uniforms.
5. When carried out using professional equipment by an experienced printer, it's also possible to create intricate multicoloured designs.
6. 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 alone.
A Flatbed Press is a most basic and least expensive option for screen printing. It uses a flatbed that holds the fabric screen printing onto fabric. Because this process uses only one colour at a time, each print will be darker than those made with other types of screens because they don't have access to all four colors in one pass as they do with rotary or cylinder presses.
A Rotary Screen utilizes revolving drums or cylindrical screens that hold colour inside and apply it evenly against fabric surfaces when they roll during the printing process. This screen printing process is more expensive than flat-bed screens because they require more complex machinery and higher quality parts and materials.