The only thing that can't be screen printed is money...and that's only because the government won't let us
Artists call it "serigraphy."
Hobbyists call it "silk screening."
Printers call it screen printing. It's the only type of printing that can print directly on anything: Round surfaces - even water-activated materials - can be screen printed, where other methods fail. If it can stand still, it can be screen printed!
Screen printing is one of the oldest of all printing production processes.
Yet it's thoroughly progressive, fast, cost-effective and astonishingly precise.
It is also one of the most advanced methods for reproducing images. With today's technology, screen printing and graphic imaging can be one of the best ways to reproduce words or pictures.
The principle of screen printing is not hard to understand.
A screen (similar to a window screen, but much finer) is stretched tightly on a square, rectangular, or tubular frame. The screen fabric may be synthetic nylon, wire, polyester, cotton organdy...or even silk.
Part of the screen is then blocked with a stencil, leaving open mesh areas which will print the image. When ink is deposited onto the screen and frame assembly, pressure pushes the ink through those areas of the screen that are not blocked by the stencil. This is accomplished by the use of a flexible plastic or rubber blade supported by a holder, called a squeegee.
When ink passes through to the surface below, that surface (the substrate) is printed with the image defined by the stencil. The substrate may be paper or glass or cloth or any of a thousand possibilities imaginable.
Graphic imaging gives screen printers the ability to design, edit or change production designs with a minimum of effort and expense! The process enables screen printers to view and manipulate a finished layout before it is committed to full production.
History Comes Alive
Although stencil processes date back to early Chinese and Egyptian civilizations, it is only recently that this principle has been examined and improved to the extent that today's screen printing is a large and highly varied industry involving nearly a million people and literally billions of dollars a year in business.
Screen printing presses are automated and can accommodate a great variety of sizes and shapes of objects. Due to advancements in ink chemistry, which now allow for nearly instantaneous drying, the speed of these presses has been enhanced. We come in contact with screen printed materials daily; often, however, we are simply not aware of how they are created.
For instance, most of the plastic containers used in cosmetics...much of the decorative trim on your automobile - including dash panels and hub cap decorations...and the safety stickers and product identification decals applied to appliances used in the home are actually screen printed.
The screen printing process is so diverse as to allow for the careful artist/craftsman to work in the same industry with the printed circuit board manufacturer, the glassware decorator and the T-shirt printer. Each has developed the process along lines which best suit the end-product. In fact, the screen printing industry serves - and is really - many industries...and we will continue to add new ones as additional applications for the process are employed.
From fine art serigraphy to industrial applications - instrument markings, dials and membrane switches - and from billboards, fleet markings, binders, supermarket signs and transit advertising to textiles, bumper stickers, banners and beverage ware, screen printing is surprisingly versatile.
It's the print anything process.
In store displays. Three-dimensional products. Decals, greeting cards and stationery. Architectural signage. Exhibition and convention displays. Advertising specialties. All are screen printed.
Here are some other screen printing applications.
Point of Purchase
Attractive displays help business prospects to respond to your products, services or ideas. Screen printing can utilize a wide variety of materials and graphic imaging techniques to help solve your display problems. Wood, metal, plastic, acrylics, fabrics, lighting, motion devices, wire, tubing, glass, cardboard and vinyl can be combined to form unique point of purchase displays or sales aids that spotlight your product or service.
A Sign for the Times
Signs are indications of what you are, what you do, and what you want to communicate. Signs are one of the most effective and efficient forms of media advertising. From a single poster or counter card to a complete advertising promotion program, count on screen printing to meet your exact signage requirements...on materials ranging from simple paper and plastic to more complex shapes and sizes. Four-color process or opaque colors can be printed on signs of a variety of substrates and then completed with steel rule die cutting, laminating, mounting, punching, drilling, collating and packaging.
The right decals and design signatures enable your vehicles to serve you better by moving potential customers closer to your door. Wise utilization of available vehicle space enables products, names and messages to be clearly and colorfully designed and advertised with screen printing and graphic imaging. From detailed, lettering to decal graphics, screen printing can achieve communication results with freedom and finesse.
Electronic and Industrial Applications
The electronics industry is a big part of the screen printing process. Precision screen printing presses enable screen printers to produce high quality printing on intricate electronic parts. Got a communication problem when it comes to instrument controls, membrane switches or other sophisticated technology? Screen printing can fill that gap through a wide range of panel designs, materials, finishes and applications. Membrane switches used in many low voltage applications are made up of various insulating materials which blend decorative and functional graphics with conductive inks and adhesives. Screen printed membrane switches resist dust, moisture and other contaminating materials.
A Viable Alternative
From football jerseys to the micro-circuits in the U.S. space shuttle, screen printing and graphic imaging will meet the most diversified needs. Here's a partial list of screen printed items:
decals religious items caps, hats
panel plastics bumper stickers
tableware desk accessories emblems
plastic radio tubes glass bottles point-of purchase
mobile displays charts displays
wallpaper carpets die-cut labels
nameplates direct chassis printing banners
beakers and other flexible vinyls highway signs
laboratory equipment cardboard roll labels
instrument panels drinking glasses advertising
serigraphs fleet truck markings posters
pennants identification labels battery labels
bookcovers scales and rulers thermometers
membrane switches ceramic labels printed circuits
instrument panels foam products garment lettering
slipcovers stadium cushions metal signs
T-shirts transit advertising dials
metal containers aircraft (interior and cork items
menus exterior) markings cones
magnetic car signs industrial exhibits wall hangings
political posters and card game layouts felt signs
buttons (casino table tops) calendars
identification markings show cards handkerchiefs
novelties catalog covers towels
billboards sportswear ashtrays
parking permit stickers telephone dials and curtains
schematics numbers dress material
watch faces back-lighted signs cards
shower curtains awards and advertising aprons
plastic bottles specialties pens
plaques easel cards pencils
flags real estate signs credit cards
loose-leaf binders brochure covers mirrors
electronic components heat seal transfers tubes
presentation folders animated displays fine art
ceramic tiles linen sweatshirts
safety markings emblematic jewelry greeting cards
...and hundreds of other products for industry and the consumer.
Screen printing is a viable alternative to other "imaging" processes. Along with rapidly emerging graphic imaging techniques, it's a production technique full of unexplored and undeveloped potential.
The industry historically has enjoyed an image of artistry and craftsmanship. Today screen printing is an up-to-date, competitive and sensitive graphic arts/printing process equally oriented to mass production and more limited runs.
Whether you require a corporate logo transferred to a special surface...or a complete range of sophisticated materials reproduced with quality and integrity...discover screen printing - the print anything process.