How To Do Professional Screen Printing On T-shirts At Home

According to historical chronicles, screen printing started thousands of years ago in China. If you could believe it, there was a period where screens used for this machine were made from hair!

Since then, the machine has undergone massive improvements to the present day screen printing device we all know. If you want to get superior printing quality on your garments, screen printing is the way to go. If you want to do mass productions, you should consider screen printing too.

Using the system might be intimidating at first, but it’s easier than you think! You can familiarize yourself with this machine, and in no time, start using it to work on your customers’ orders.

We’ll show you how you can do that in a few moments.

The Basis of Screen Printing at Home

Screen printing at home is just like working on a stencil. But rather than cutting the images individually, you simply coat the screen in a photo emulsion and then cut the image out using a laser.

Let’s get into our expert guide on how to do screen printing:

Step 1: Create Your Image

The initial step in screen printing involves coming up with an image. Remember, the artwork is important for your overall printing process! If you create a bad design the coating and the screens will be for nothing and your shirts will be no good. Be sure to produce high-quality and high-resolution images.

Most screen printers require at least a 300 dots per inch (DPI) art. The higher your resolution is, the more dots available per inch, and the better your image becomes.

Why high-resolution image? Because it’s easier to prepare for screen printing, keep in mind that you’ll need to separate each color in the design into individual files, layers, and channels.

Once your image is ready, move on to step two.

Step 2: Separation

This is self-explanatory. It involves removing the individual colors from your design, for example, if your design features some red text and some green text, each portion of these colors will be separated from each other and printed on a film (or vellum, which a cheaper alternative).

The film is the most preferred material as it has a higher quality output, enabling the screen exposure process to produce better dots and lines - that’s our next step!

Step 3: Now Expose Your Image on The Screen (Burning)

When your screens are ready for burning, you can now take them to the exposure unit. In the simplest terms, an exposure unit is a box featuring lights on the inside. Although you might encounter different units with different features and capabilities, they’ll share some similar functionality.

Your film will be placed between the exposure glass and the screen. This allows light to shine up (or down for some units) through your glass, the film, and against the screen. Wherever the light fails to hit your screen, your emulsion will wash right out.

An emulsion is simply a photosensitive liquid that you apply to the screen before the exposure process. You typically apply it with a squeegee so that it covers most parts of your screen. When the emulsion is dry, you store the screen in a dark room for around 2 hours to prepare it for burning/separation.

Step 4: Setting Up The Screens For Printing

At this stage, your screen is ready for printing. To set them up for printing, you apply them in the best order based on the printer’s settings. Placing your screens in the correct order for printing is crucial as it enables the ink to be applied to your apparel correctly.

After you’ve set up your screens on the press, you must “register” them. That is, you’ll take each screen and line them up so that they all print their contents. The registration process should be conducted with great care as it determines the outcome of your garment.

Afterward, apply ink to each screen. Depending on the job, you might need to add a couple of squeegees or more. You’ll also need to measure out or mix some inks to obtain certain colors.

Step 5: Do The Printing

Now that everything is ready to go, you can proceed to printing your items. If you have medium to large runs, you can just do them on the auto press; this will depend on the system you’re using. An auto press is much like a carousel that automatically spins and applies ink.

For smaller runs, you can use a manual press which employs the same concept, only that you’ll apply the ink manually using a squeegee.

Final Thoughts on How to Screen Print on Shirts

Screen printing is the most popular method of t-shirt printing (not forgetting it’s also the oldest). The fact that it has existed for so long and is still popular means it’s a highly reliable method that gives you nothing but the best quality.

The screen printing process may have a few steps in it, but learning how to screen print at home is not as hard as it sounds. Sure, you’ll have to deal with things like photo emulsion, selecting fabric, and what type of screen printer do you need. But if you have the right screen printing equipment and make sure that your artwork is of high-quality, producing printed t-shirts and other screen printed materials is not so overwhelming and impossible.

Apart from this, digital printing has revolutionized this technique, and if you can learn how to print screen on a PC, you will find that you can simplify some parts of the process.

Learning how to use a screen printer can open up possibilities for your future project. In relation to this, you should probably try to learn how to save a print screen as well. Because there’s no point to figuring out how to print screen if you can’t save and use it in the future.

If you’re planning on setting up a garments screen printing business, the above guide will help you familiarize yourself with how to screen print shirts at home.

And before long, you’ll become an expert operator.

Good luck!

 

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