Screen Printing

Screen printing how it works

OK, so most of us have heard of screen printing, but might not be totally clear on what it is and how it works. What are the advantages and disadvantages of screen printing and when is the right time to choose it? The biggest advantage for screen printing is that it’s very cost effective for large quantity orders.

How does Screen Printing work?

There’s an old joke, if you want to sculpt an elephant, start with a block of marble and chisel away anything that doesn’t look like an elephant. Well with screen printing, the basic idea is that you have a high-tension mesh screen and you block off the parts of the screen where you don’t want an image to print. There’s some emulsion and some science-y parts to prepare the screen. You lay the screen over the material on which you are wanting to print (your pallet) and you push the ink through the screen using what’s called a flood bar & squeegee. The tricky part is that you need one of these screens for each color you want in your image. That means if you want an image on a shirt with 4 colors in it, then you are going to need 4 different screens with four different patterns on them to block out the sections where the other colors are supposed to be. Because of the work involved in doing that, there is typically a setup fee of $25.00 each. So, the more colors, the more screens, the more expensive.

Our process is a little more high-tech and we are able to process large orders at high-quality and speed than you could in your garage, but that is the basic idea.

How long has Screen Printing been around?

This mystical art was brought to us through humble beginnings by silk peddlers in ancient China. Seriously! It was around the time of the Song Dynasty. It’s gone through a bunch of iterations since then, but was really made popular in the 1960’s by Andy Warhol’s MarilynDiptych and Sister Mary Corita.

screen printing Marilyn Diptych and Sister Corita

It’s awareness and use have largely been the result of the ability to gather the materials fairly easily, and the fact that screen printing can be done on almost any surface from fabrics to metal to glass and more.

So, should I Screen Print?

Well, there are several deciding factors and there are other printing options. The things to keep in mind for screen printing are that you need a large number of prints, you have a simple design that doesn’t need to be too sharp and doesn’t have too many colors. If that is the case, then screen printing might be the right answer.

When is Screen Printing Your Best to Customize Apparel?        



1-3 colors

$25 screen charge per color -- the more colors the higher total cost of screens. Additionally, colors are layered and the final product may lead to a heavy or plastic feel.

Larger order quantity

To help offset the screen charges.

Narrow range of sizes

Different size screens may be required to fit Youth X-Small vs. Adult XXL leading to higher total screen cost.

No fine lines or details in design

Fine lines/details may bleed or look blurry

Polyester Mix Garments

DTG needs 100% cotton or close to it. If you are set on getting tri-blends or moisture wicking material then screen printing is your method.



Get Started

To get started on your t-shirt/sweatshirt/shoes/mask design, the best move is to give us a call at (847) 986-6212 or email us at or use the contact us tab. Tell us all about your project and we can help you make the best decision for your project and your wallet.