Screen Printing Start To Finish

A lot of consumers may not be familiar with the steps in printing t-shirts. There are a lot of different methods depending on what the customer calls for and what the particular printer is capable of or can make a profit at. We excel at screenprinting, although it is not our only method to decorate garments.

There are several steps in going from a concept to a finished shirt. Depending on the art and the amount of color needed, a job can be simple or very complex. Because of the set-up and clean-up time, labor, materials and chemicals costs; the process is not well suited for small production runs.

Our 7 color automatic press is capable of doing well over 500 pcs per hour, printing all seven colors at once. While theoretically, printing 36 pcs should take seconds, the set-up / breakdown time will take on the order of one to two hours to several hours. All this means that we can be very efficient printing 100-1200 shirts. Fully completing 1200pcs front and back can easily be done in a shift.
This little series is a shot by shot documentation of a 150pc, 4 color front/ 4 color back job that we did on the 17th of September, 2009.


1. Artwork is first created in photoshop or illustrator or scanned in and reworked. Artwork can be very complex and time consuming depending on the file and image resolution. The best files are vector eps, ai, or pdf. 300dpi jpg or psd files are good also. You have to zoom in close on your monitor to see the full resolution of digital images.
2. We output our film to an Epson 4800 and use waterproof inkjet film for maximum opacity. The film has to be dark in order to stop the uv light from penetrating the positive image area of the films.
3. Exposure. Takes from 30 sec to 3 min. depending on emulsion /mesh /coating combo.
4. Screen washout. should only take a minute or two.

5. Screens drying. This design calls for 8 screens. It only takes about 20 minutes or so to dry.
6. Then the frames are taped up and readied for the press.
7. Design is aligned color by color- also called registration.
8. Screens are filled with ink and squeegees and floodbars.

9. Test printing, making sure everything is right before production.
10. Production- this should go really fast.
11. Curing and packing / sorting/ folding finished product or restacking for printing the other side.

12. Clean up/ press breakdown- we always have ink on our hands.
13. Screen reclaim and cleaning- this is extremely important. If the screens are not thoroughly prepped, the finished print will not be acceptable.
14. Newly cleaned screens ready to cycle back through the shop.
15. Fresh batch of coated frames ready to be burned for the next job.