FREE SHIPPING on printer ink cartridges & toner orders of $50+

Screen Printing Guide

Screen printing is a print technique that is used to create printed designs. Even if you have never come across the term before, you’ve probably used some screen-printed products including clothes and crockery. The print design is created by using a stenciled mesh screen, through which the ink is pressed. Its versatility and wide range of applications has made it popular in different industries, where it is also described as serigraphy or silk screen printing.

The Screen Printing Process
In the screen printing technique, you use customized stencils and then press the ink through the open areas of mesh to create a well-defined image on the substrate you use, whether fabric, metal, glass, or plastic. There are different types of stencils that you can use to create the desired design, including hand-cut stencils that involve manually cutting designs or patterns out of a material such as paper, plastic, or acetate, tusche or block-out stencils that are created using a liquid resist substance to block out areas where ink should not penetrate, and emulsion stencils that are made by applying a light-sensitive emulsion onto a screen which must then dry and be exposed to light. Emulsions are ideal for highly detailed prints but the process is complicated and challenging for beginners.

After the transfer ink or any other printable materials are pressed through the mesh, a squeegee is used to force ink through the open areas and to mop up any excess. You simply move the squeegee across the screen stencil to do this deliberately to get the desired result. As you move over and away from an area, the screen begins to rebound from the substrate but the ink remains in place to give you your design.

A Guide To Screen Printing Technology

Some of the technology or equipment needed for screen printing includes:

  • Screen printing Press: You can print with just a mesh screen and squeegee, but the press is essential for efficiency. It holds the screen in place, ensuring consistent pressure for precise ink application onto the substrate.
  • The Inks: Inks are about more than the color choice, as there are different types of inks for different effects, such as glittery inks, puff inks, or texturized inks, depending on what you need and the substrate.
  • The Silk Screen: The screen acts as the stencil, allowing ink to pass through onto the substrate in the desired design while blocking areas where ink should not appear. Silk screens are reusable and just need to be washed after each print.
  • The Squeegee: The squeegee is used to push ink across the screen to make sure that the ink is evenly distributed and gets transferred onto the substrate with consistent pressure.
  • The Washing Station: The washing station is essential in your screen printing setup to clean screens between print runs and remove excess ink and emulsion.

Finding Screen Printing Near You
You can find local directory listings by simply doing a Google search in your area for screen printing. If you have your location enabled or search via Google Maps or Apple Maps, the results will include Google Business or Apple Business Connect profiles for screen printing companies in your area. If you need to find screen printing businesses in another area, simply change your map location to the desired area and search within it. Yelp directory listings and social media platforms like Facebook can also help you find printing options to meet your needs. And lastly, here is a screen printer directory that we found pretty useful:

Some of the most popular screen printing companies include Techprint, Tompkins Metal Finishing, Sine-Tific Solutions, and Korzon Screen Printing, but you should research any potential company to make sure that it’s the right fit for your project.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile