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The Screen Printing Process

Hey y'all. It has been a long while since I have created a blog post. We opened a store front about a year ago and business grew so much and so fast we haven't had time to sit and think, we have been busy!!

I get multiple people in my store monthly wishing to have a small order screen printed and get disappointed when I give them the price. There is so much work involved in screen printing, especial creating and cleaning screens, so it's really not cost effective to screen print a small order. Will we do it? yes! Is it expensive? Yes!

You can check out the process here. A couple things these videos don't cover are artwork or reapplying pallet tape or in some cases spray adhesive. (I use tape.)

Along with the amount of time it takes just to get a screen ready for production, there are quite a few other factors involved. Art has to be printed on a special film, for each screen or color in the design. I use a minimum of 3 chemicals to clean out the ink and emulsion and prep the screen prior to coating it with emulsion. These chemicals come in gallon containers, so shipping can also be expensive. Emulsion is what creates the stencil, and it only lasts about 6 months if kept in a cool place. I purchase in quart containers to guarantee I will have them used prior to spoiling, but they cost more and mean I have to keep more on hand. Once the screen is ready for exposure, we use tape to hold the art in place. We also clean the exposure unit often, which involves glass cleaner and paper towels. At the press, we use printing proofs or old t-shirts to align multi color screens, and split tape on the screens to keep ink from seeping out the sides and scotch tape or painters' tape over the registration marks. Ink has doubled and tripled (depending upon the brand) over the last few years. Squeegees have to be replaced or the blades at the very least as well as screens or screen mesh. We also have utility expenses of water and electricity. Not only do I have 2 dryers running a good part of my week, but this time of year they also make the air conditioner run all day. This is all in addition to labor (we all want to be paid for our jobs) and the products we are printing on.

While I don't expect my customers to understand the amount of time or work involved, I do hope to educate them. This is why it is much more cost effective to print larger orders and use other means to print small ones.

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