We realize that what we do here at SKAZMA is a little (well, maybe a lot) more hands-on than people expect. Many tend to associate printing with using a digital printer to transfer designs onto a piece of paper or other surface. However, unlike digital printing, screen printing is a mostly manual process that may surprise you!
This is a process that takes care, skill, and dedicated employees who want to see your brand come to life on a shirt, hoodie, or other piece of apparel.
Screen printing is an intriguing, centuries-old (literally!) process that contrasts with many of the printing processes that we are familiar with in this digital age. This is why we wanted to share an outline of how the screen printing process works here so you can understand exactly what goes on behind the scenes.
Whether you are a new or existing customer, or if you are just interested in how the heck we get ink onto a t-shirt, we hope this opens your eyes into this interesting process.
Step 1: Your Concept
Every single screen printing job starts with you and your business, club, or project. We do what we do to see your brand come into the world in a way that will help your business succeed.
That’s why each project first starts with your logo or your request for our team of talented designers to create an eye-catching design that will match your vision.
Tip: If you need help preparing what you need for your screen printing job, take a look at 3 Necessities for a Successful Screen Printing Job or reach out to one of our knowledgeable sales people by calling 720-340-4326.
In this step, we ensure that you are pleased with both your design and the products that it will go on.
Step 2: Burning Recycled Screens
We work to lower our impact by cleaning and recycling screens after each job. This also helps us reduce the costs to you, the customer.
After the screens are cleaned for your job, we prep them by coating them with a blue substance called emulsion. We then use our light table and your digitally printed artwork to “knock out” the emulsion.
Think of this stage as creating a large stencil for each color that is in your design. If you have ever wondered why the cost is different based on the amount of colors in your design, this is why. It takes a great deal of time and attention to detail to create each of the screens.
Step 3: Preparing the Press
Our screen printing is done on one of the 3 printing presses that we have here in the shop. Two of those presses are manual, meaning that a dedicated employee has to manually “pull” the ink through the screens using a squeegee.
We have one large automatic press that is controlled by a computer and pulls the ink on its own. This press is typically used for large jobs for efficiency purposes.
No matter which press is being used, the screens must be fastened to the press before the job can even begin. If there are multiple colors in a job, our team takes care to visually line up the screens so the colors match up exactly to create one cohesive design.
Once the screens are aligned, we place ink on the corresponding screens and do a test print before moving on to the most important step.
Step 4: Putting Ink to T-Shirt
This step is where the magic happens! We’ll use t-shirts for the sake of our example, although we can screen print other types of apparel.
Each t-shirt is placed onto one of the palettes that are attached to the screen printing press. The palettes rotate one spot at a time in order to be placed directly under the screens with your design on them.
Once a shirt finds itself underneath a screen, the screen is lowered, either automatically or manually depending on the press, and the ink is pulled through the screen onto the shirt.
This process is repeated for each t-shirt and each color. Once the shirt makes its way back to the beginning of the rotation it is pulled off the pallet and replaced by a fresh one.
Step 5: Set the Ink
Once the design is pressed onto the shirt and it is pulled off the palette, we have to make sure the ink sets so the design does not smudge. This is done by sending it through the oven, which is just what it sounds like!
Shirts are placed on a moving belt that goes through the oven. On the other side, someone is waiting to “catch” them before they fall and get wrinkled. This person neatly stacks the t-shirts and once the job is done they fold and package them into our branded boxes with a few extra goodies for you to enjoy!
And that is how it’s done! At SKAZMA, we take great care at each step along the way to ensure that your order is completed to our high standards. You may have been surprised at how much a human touch is needed in order to make this process run smoothly. Our detail-oriented employees diligently confirm that each step is done correctly and that the final product is just what you ordered.