Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Screen Printing Terms / Jargon by: Michael D'Elena

This handy guide will allow you to quickly learn the basic terms and materials needed to screen print.

1. ARTWORK.

This can be a picture, drawing, cartoon, or words you want to put on your t-shirt. This is the starting point of screen printing your t-shirt. This can be done in many different ways using many different software packages. What is key is that the art must be done in vector format. The the main programs professionals (and amateurs) use are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw.


2. SEPARATIONS or "SEPS".

Once your art is created, each color must be printed on clear film called separations. These will be used to burn the images for each color into the screen.

3. THE SCREEN.

This is a square metal (usually aluminum) or wooden frame with a screen made of mesh material very tightly stretched over it. It will be used to burn your seps into and to print on the actual shirt.

4. MESH.

This is the material which is stretched over the silk screen frame itself, (as in number 3 above). This mesh material, as its name suggests, has holes in it that can vary in size. The holes allow ink to flow through onto your fabric, in varying quantities depending on your t-shirt design. Different screens have different mesh counts. The lower the number, the more ink it allows in.

5. EMULSION.

This is a substance that when put into the screen, and dried in a dark room it blocks the mesh, preventing the ink flowing through onto your fabric. In areas where the emulsion hardens (by exposure to bright light), the screen is blocked so no ink can pass through. This is imperative to ensure that nothing other than the image you intend to print appears on the final print.

6. COAT THE SCREEN.

This simply means putting the emulsion onto the screen before you begin to burn your artwork to the silkscreen. See number 5.

7. BURNING A SCREEN.

This is the process of using a halogen light (or very high wattage light bulb) to burn your artwork image to the silkscreen. In areas where the emulsion is kept soft (by your image blocking the light) and is eventually washed out of the screen, the ink will pass through to produce your print.

8. HALOGEN OR HIGH WATTAGE LIGHT BULB.

These lights are used to permanently dry the emulsion onto the screen, so no ink can flow through to the screen. It's used to burn the artwork image onto the screen, so only holes where the artwork blocked the hardening of the emulsion as in 7 above, ink can easily flow through onto your t-shirt creating your design.

9. SQUEEGEE.

This is a tool with a flat rubber blade on one side used to pull ink evenly across the screen mesh.

10. PLASTISOL.

The type of ink used for screen printing. The ink has unique properties, for example, it will not dry even when left out until it is cured under a heat source of 320 degrees.

11. FLASH UNIT.

A device used to dry ink enough to print another color on top of it, but not enough to completely cure it. It is essential when printing colors on top of each other.

12. PALLET.

A piece of rounded wood that you place the shirt on to be printed. There are various sizes to fit various jobs.

13. AUTO PRESS or "AUTO".

This screen printing press is a very large piece of equipment that once set up properly, will print up to 14 colors automatically. All you have to do is put the shirts on the pallets and take them off.

14. CONVEYOR DRYER.

A large dryer that has a conveyor belt on it so shirts pass through it and then out the other end.



About The Author
Michael D'Elena has been the owner of Reckless T-shirts since 2006. They specialize in screen printing and embroidery in the Phoenix, AZ area.

http://www.RecklessTshirts.com