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Decorating Promotional Products - What Is Screenprinting?

To understand the time and care that is taken into each silk screen printed job, we thought it would be helpful to indicate what happens each time a job is printed.

The first step is artwork. Once the artwork is finalised, it gets sent to an art department for processing. From there, your printing instructions come up with a composite proof for you so you can see what your design will look like on the t-shirts (or polos sweatshirts or other garments). This will confirm the specific print locations you have instructed to print.

After the art has been approved, then film is output to make the screens. All of the art is then pre-registered and checked for detail and quality. The first step in the screen department is to coat the screens with a photosensitive emulsion. Next, the screen dries, and it is placed on the vacuum light table and exposed with a 3000 watt metal halide light. After being ex-posed the screens are then washed out with a pressure washer at around 1300 psi.

Once the image is washed out, it is double checked with the films for accuracy. Each color in a design needs a screen and each screen must be blocked, taped, setup, and squeegeed.

Just imagine if we had to do this each time a t-shirt was ordered. You can see why screen printing was designed to print quality garments in bulk quantities.

For smaller runs, normally a 4-6 carousel is used. For larger runs with more colors, an automatic machine with 10-18 heads can be used. By "flashing" or drying the ink between each color layer, a bright, professional quality print, with years of wear and tear is available.

Current Update on the Cotton Crisis

As we come to the end of 2010 it is clear that our industry and the economy are in better shape than much of 2008- 2009. However, economic uncertainty and market fragility still remains. This will continue to affect the supply and demand of promotional products throughout 2011.

The sky isn't falling, but there are a few big thunderstorms that are making even the calmest of professionals look for a steel reinforced umbrella.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the cotton industry. The current global circumstances are unprecedented. It is imperative that professionals throughout our industry understand (and educate) their clients about the changing challenges that will continue to influence the price and availability and how it affects the Promotional Products industry of cotton.

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