First, a Little History…
Screen printing was a technique first used by the Chinese almost 2000 years ago. Human hair was stretched across a wooden frame to create a screen. Stencils made from leaves were then attached to the screens. This is considered to be the first application of screen printing.
Later, the Japanese adopted the screen printing process and used woven silk to create the mesh and lacquers to make stencils. The use of silk is where screen printing got its alternative name “Silk Screening”.
When it comes to apparel printing, screen printing is the industry standard for superior quality. Most graphic tees sold in major retail stores have been screen printed. The process is designed to make garments bold in appearance yet cost effective at the same time.
Today, screen printing is accomplished by making a mesh stencil (called a screen) for each color that needs to be printed. Screens must be lined up (or registered) and printed on test sheets to ensure that all of the colors line up correctly. Inks are then pushed through the screens one color at a time onto the apparel. Finally, each piece is run through a large dryer to cure the inks.