Screen printing on plastic bags at home (step-by-step details)

Angie Renner
Published by 
Angie Renner
Last updated: 
January 21, 2024

You can print anything on a plastic bag and set it apart from other plastic bags because of a simple design. Folks all over are now concerned with the use of plastic bags than ever before.

So, you can quickly cash in by printing your funky designs onto reusable plastic bags. Even shopping malls, supermarkets, and boutiques want custom designed plastic shopping bags bearing their name and logo.

And if you can get a few of them to hire you to make these bags for them, that would be a really big deal.

But first, you must learn how to print on plastic bags. Instructions on how to print on a plastic bag have been a mystery for some time. But after you’re through reading our guide below, you’ll get to know how this process works.

How To Print On A Plastic Bag?

For this first part, you’ll discover that plastic bags are printed in different ways, depending on the size of your press run.

For the longer runs, you’ll need to use a more economical technique (a large web press). Here, you simply hold a roll of plastic (comprised of two sheets, one on top of the other) in tension by the press. This will enable the plastic roll to pass through a couple of ink units where the printing takes place.

The most popular commercial printing method for plastic is Flexography.

What is Flexography?

This is a process where a raised image area of rubber printing plates is used to deposit ink on your substrate. Don’t confuse this with offset lithography which uses flat or planographic plates.

The flexo plates are affixed to the rollers of the heat press machine with an adhesive. As the rollers turn and the plates hit the roll of plastic paper passing through the web press, the platens will print your graphic designs on your plastic papers.

Not that this process allows you to print in various colors, but its tight register of colors is below that of offset lithography.

After your sheet plastic ribbon has passed through the web press and has been rewound at the equipment’s delivery end, the final step involves creating the actual plastic bag.

To do this, cut off the bags from the long plastic roll: cut up and down. Then fuse them together using a heat press (at the sides, top, and bottom), and you’ll create your final product bearing your design - a printed plastic bag.

Printing Short Runs of Plastic Bags:

If you don’t have many orders to work on, there are several printing methods you can employ to get the task done.

One of the most common methods for short runs is screen printing.

How To Screen Print On Plastic Bags?

Unlike the web of uncut roll of plastic used in a flexo press, screen printing process requires you to print on each bag, one at a time.

First, you’ll need to place each bag on a platen (broad, flat structure). This will keep your bags stable as you work on them. Basically, you’ll be lowering a metal screen onto the bags and then drag a squeegee to apply the ink across the screen.

Because this process is labor intensive, it’s best suited for short runs of plastic bags.

Inkjet Paper Bags Printing:

Some people also use an inkjet printer to print plastic bags. However, this process works best when you want to imprint tracking numbers on a plastic bag and not graphic images.

Benefits Of Using Plastic Bags

We are greatly dependent on plastic bags from morning to night, and pretty much anywhere where we need to carry things for domestic or manufacturing purposes. Can we imagine a day without using plastic bags at all?

It’s tough.

We use Plastic Bags for many reasons. Like

  • Easy to produce at cheap costs
  • It’s cheap enough to buy
  • Usable for different purposes
  • Able to reuse by simply recycling them

Plastic Bags or Paper Bags?

In general, it is considered that paper bags could be an alternative to plastic bags. But in reality, paper bags are more expensive to produce, and we are mostly unable to reuse them although they can be recycled. Most of the time, they serve a one-time use purpose, although there are different paper bags that can be re-used.

Again for manufacturing, paper bags can’t be an alternative at all because they could get wet and become frozen.

Final Thoughts About Printing on Plastic

When it comes to flexibility, they’re the best to use. You can create plastic bags with various designs to meet the ever-rising need for their use. When you add your great artwork on them, they will look even better.

Printing on plastic may seem hard or complicated. But if you know what you need and how to use them, learning how to print on plastic is not as daunting as it seems.

While custom printing on plastic has its challenges, there is a wide range of options that are available to you that will help you decide which one is the best for you. From screen printing on plastic to digital printing with laser printers, there is a whole host of ways to print on the surface of a plastic film.

The options of plastic materials, printer, ink composition, and so many factors can be overwhelming, but if you know what you need and what you’re going to use it for, you’ll find that your choices are actually simple. You can now start printing on plastic cups, or if you’ve become that confident, printing on the plastic card may not be as complicated as it may seem.

Follow our expert guide on how to print a plastic bag today and start producing funky designs for various corporations, boutiques, supermarkets, and so much more.

Believe it or not, this would be a profitable venture if you get bulk orders!‚Äč

See also:

10 Best Heat Press Machine Reviews (Updated)

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