A Beginner’s Guide to Screen Printing

Custom apparel products

Screen printing is the perfect method for producing customized apparel. Screen printed t-shirts are used in many popular custom apparel products like custom athletic apparel, staff shirts, volunteer group shirts, and more.

But the task of screen printing might seem daunting to some. Here you will find a step-by-step guide for creating your own custom t-shirts.

  1. Gather your supplies: The first thing you will need to do is get your supplies together. You will need:
    • Screen and frame
    • Photo emulsion and sensitizer
    • A 250 watt bulb
    • Latex gloves
    • T-shirt
    • Squeegee
    • Silk Screen Fabric Ink
    • Piece of cardboard

    You will also need access to a pitch black room.

  2. Create your image: If this is the first time you are attempting a screen printing project, begin with a simple design. A basic silhouette without a lot of thin lines is the way to go. Once you have an image, print it out onto transparency paper.
  3. Coat the screen: Mix the emulsion and the sensitizer together, then lay down your screen on a flat surface. Pour just a little bit of the mixture onto the screen and spread it around with the squeegee. Repeat the process until the screen is completely coated and you cannot see through it. Aim for a thin, even layer. Next, leave the screen in a dark room for two hours until it has dried completely.
  4. Expose the image: In the dark room, lay down a black cloth or a board. Set down the screen and frame with the screen side down. Lay the transparency with your image on it on top of the screen where the emulsion mixture is spread. Tape the transparency down. Next, move your lamp so that it is approximately one to two feet above the screen. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes and then carefully remove the transparency.
  5. Clean the screen: Spray the screen with cold water until you see through your image. Let the screen dry and then cover with tape the parts of the screen where there is no photo emulsion or image.
  6. Print: Lay the t-shirt on a flat surface and stuff the piece of cardboard inside the shirt under the area on which you want to print. Lay the screen over the shirt, placing the design where you want to print it. Next, pour a small amount of ink across the screen. Use the squeegee to make one smooth movement down the screen to push all the ink through. Lift up the screen and carefully remove the cardboard.

Voila! You have yourself an awesome, totally unique screen printed t-shirt!
Reference links.

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