By: Xtreme Signs  09-12-2011
Keywords: Screen Printing, T-shirts

Xtreme Signs & T-Shirts is ready to serve your screen-printing needs. With more than 10 years of experience, you can take advantage of the following services:- Plastisol ink printing
- Water based ink printing
- Discharge ink printing
- Glitter and metalic ink printing
- Foil printing
- and combinations of all of the above.

Xtreme Signs & T-Shirts owns high-quality, commercial screen-printing equipment that always gets the job done right. Only the finest inks and materials are used, insuring outstanding quality for your prints!

Xtreme Signs & T-Shirts prints on various types and colors of T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, uniforms, golf shirts, tank tops, bags, pants, cut pieces and many other fabrics. All types and brands of T-shirts, sweat shirts and other garments are available on request.

Xtreme Signs & T-Shirt can accurately reproduce your logo or graphic using camera ready separated art work. High resolution, layered photoshop files are preferred. A complete art department is also available for your needs.

Get a free quote on services by calling 903-887-8800  or by e-mailing

About Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A roller or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink past the threads of the woven mesh in the open areas.

Screen printing is also a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of silk or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface. It is also known as "silk screening" or "serigraphy".  

Screen Printing Technique

A screen is made of a piece of porous, finely woven fabric called mesh stretched over a frame of aluminum or wood. Originally human hair then silk was woven into screen mesh; currently most mesh is made of man-made materials such as steel, nylon, and polyester. Areas of the screen are blocked off with a non-permeable material to form a stencil, which is a negative of the image to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear.

The screen is placed atop a substrate such as paper or fabric. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a fill bar (also known as a floodbar) is used to fill the mesh openings with ink. The operator begins with the fill bar at the rear of the screen and behind a reservoir of ink. The operator lifts the screen to prevent contact with the substrate and then using a slight amount of downward force pulls the fill bar to the front of the screen. This effectively fills the mesh openings with ink and moves the ink reservoir to the front of the screen. The operator then uses a squeegee (rubber blade) to move the mesh down to the substrate and pushes the squeegee to the rear of the screen. The ink that is in the mesh opening is pumped or squeezed by capillary action to the substrate in a controlled and prescribed amount, i.e. the wet ink deposit is equal to the thickness of the mesh and or stencil. As the squeegee moves toward the rear of the screen the tension of the mesh pulls the mesh up away from the substrate (called snap-off) leaving the ink upon the substrate surface.

There are three types of screen printing presses. The 'flat-bed' (probably the most widely used), 'cylinder', and 'rotary'.

Textile items are printed in multi-colour designs using a wet on wet technique, while graphic items are allowed to dry between colours that are then printed with another screen and often in a different colour.

The screen can be re-used after cleaning. However if the design is no longer needed, then the screen can be "reclaimed", that is cleared of all emulsion and used again. The reclaiming process involves removing the ink from the screen then spraying on stencil remover to remove all emulsion. Stencil removers come in the form of liquids, gels, or powders. The powdered types have to be mixed with water before use, and so can be considered to belong to the liquid category. After applying the stencil remover the emulsion must be washed out using a pressure washer.

Most screens are ready for recoating at this stage, but sometimes screens will have to undergo a further step in the reclaiming process called dehazing. This additional step removes haze or "ghost images" left behind in the screen once the emulsion has been removed. Ghost images tend to faintly outline the open areas of previous stencils, hence the name. They are the result of ink residue trapped in the mesh, often in the knuckles of the mesh, those points where threads overlap.

While the public thinks of garments in conjunction with screenprinting, the technique is used on tens of thousands of items, decals, clock and watch faces, balloons and many more products. The technique has even been adapted for more advanced uses, such as laying down conductors and resistors in multi-layer circuits using thin ceramic layers as the substrate.

Stenciling Techniques

There are several ways to create a stencil for screenprinting. An early method was to create it by hand in the desired shape, either by cutting the design from a non-porous material and attaching it to the bottom of the screen, or by painting a negative image directly on the screen with a filler material which became impermeable when it dried. For a more painterly technique, the artist would choose to paint the image with drawing fluid, wait for the image to dry, and then coat the entire screen with screen filler. After the filler had dried, water was used to spray out the screen, and only the areas that were painted by the drawing fluid would wash away, leaving a stencil around it. This process enabled the artist to incorporate their hand into the process, to stay true to their drawing.

A method that has increased in popularity over the past 70 years is the photo emulsion technique:

1. The original image is created on a transparent overlay such as acetate or tracing paper. The image may be drawn or painted directly on the overlay, photocopied, or printed with a inkjet or laser printer, as long as the areas to be inked are opaque. A black-and-white negative may also be used (projected on to the screen). However, unlike traditional platemaking, these screens are normally exposed by using film positives.

2. A screen must then be selected. There are several different mesh counts that can be used depending on the detail of the design being printed. Once a screen is selected, the screen must be coated with emulsion and let to dry in the dark. Once dry, the screen is ready to be burned/exposed.

3. The overlay is placed over the emulsion-coated screen, and then exposed with a light source containing ultraviolet light in the 350-420 nanometer spectrum. The UV light passes through the clear areas and create a polymerization (hardening) of the emulsion.

4. The screen is washed off thoroughly. The areas of emulsion that were not exposed to light dissolve and wash away, leaving a negative stencil of the image on the mesh.

Photographic screens can reproduce images with a high level of detail, and can be reused for tens of thousands of copies. The ease of producing transparent overlays from any black-and-white image makes this the most convenient method for artists who are not familiar with other printmaking techniques. Artists can obtain screens, frames, emulsion, and lights separately; there are also preassembled kits, which are especially popular for printing small items such as greeting cards.

Another advantage of screenprinting is that large quantities can be produced rapidly with new automatic presses (up to 1200 shirts in 1 hour). (The record is over 2000 shirts an hour.) The documented recordfor shirts printed in one hour by a single operator is 1805. Maddie Sikorski of the New Buffalo Shirt Factory in Clarence, New York (USA) set the record on 18 February 2005 at the Image Wear Expo in Orlando, Florida, USA, using a 12-colour M&R Formula Press and an M&R Passport Automatic Textile Unloader.

Screen Printing Materials

Plastisol  - the most common ink used in commercial garment decoration. Good colour opacity onto dark garments and clear graphic detail with, as the name suggests, a more plasticized texture. This print can be made softer with special additives or heavier by adding extra layers of ink. Plastisol inks require heat (approx. 150°C (300°F) for many inks) to cure the print.

Water-Based inks  - these penetrate the fabric more than the plastisol inks and create a much softer feel. Ideal for printing darker inks onto lighter coloured garments. Also useful for larger area prints where texture is important. Some inks require heat or an added catalyst to make the print permanent.

PVC/ Phalate Free  - relatively new breed of ink and printing with the benefits of plastisol but without the two main toxic components - soft feeling print.

Discharge inks  - used to print lighter colours onto dark background fabrics, they work by removing the dye in the garment – this means they leave a much softer texture. They are less graphic in nature than plastisol inks, and exact colours are difficult to control, but especially good for distressed prints and underbasing on dark garments that are to be printed with additional layers of plastisol.

Flocking  - consists of a glue printed onto the fabric and then foil or flock (or other special effect) material is applied for a mirror finish or a velvete touch.

Glitter/Shimmer  - metallic flakes are suspended in the ink base to create this sparkle effect. Usually available in gold or silver but can be mixed to make most colours.

Metallic  - similar to glitter, but smaller particles suspended in the ink. A glue is printed onto the fabric then a nanoscale fibers applied on it.

Expanding ink (puff)  - an additive to plastisol inks which raises the print off the garment, creating a 3D feel.

Caviar beads  - again a glue is printed in the shape of the design, to which small plastic beads are then applied – works well with solid block areas creating an interesting tactile surface.

Four colour process  - artwork is created and then separated into four colours (CMYK) which combine to create the full spectrum of colours needed for photographic prints. This means a large number of colours can be simulated using only 4 screens, reducing costs, time, and set-up. The inks are required to blend and are more translucent, meaning a compromise with vibrancy of colour.

Gloss  - a clear base laid over previously printed inks to create a shiny finish.

Nylobond  - a special ink additive for printing onto technical or waterproof fabrics.

Mirrored silver  - another solvent based ink, but you can almost see your face in it.

Suede Ink  - suede is a milky coloured additive that is added to plastisol. With suede additive you can make any colour of plastisol have a suede feel. It is actually a puff blowing agent that does not bubble as much as regular puff ink. The directions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally you can add up to 50% suede additive to your normal plastisol.


Water-Based inks - these penetrate the fabric more than the plastisol inks and create a much softer feel. Ideal for printing darker inks onto lighter coloured garments. Also useful for larger area prints where texture is important. Some inks require heat or an added catalyst to make the print permanent.

Screenprinting is more versatile than traditional printing techniques. The surface does not have to be printed under pressure, unlike etching or lithography, and it does not have to be planar. Screenprinting inks can be used to work with a variety of materials, such as textiles, ceramics, wood, paper, glass, metal, and plastic. As a result, screenprinting is used in many different industries, including:

- Clothing
- Textile fabric
- Product labels
- Printed electronics, including circuit board printing
- Thick film technology
- Balloon
- Medical devices
- Snowboard graphics
- Signs and displays

Semiconducting material
In screen printing on wafer-based solar PV cells, the mesh and buses of silver are printed on the front; furthermore, the buses of silver are printed on the back. Subsequently, aluminum paste is dispensed over the whole surface of the back for passivation and surface reflection]. One of the parameters that can vary and can be controlled in screen printing is the thickness of the print. This makes it useful for some of the techniques of printing solar cells, electronics etc.

One of the most critical processes to maintain high yield. Solar wafers are becoming thinner and larger, so careful printing is required to maintain a lower breakage rate. On the other hand, high throughput at the printing stage improves the throughput of the whole cell production line.

T-Shirt Silk Screen Printing

While traditionally people have used silk screening for placing designs carefully on t-shirts, recently new methods have been adopted such as digital printing on shirts using common consumer-quality inkjet printers. Silk screening, however, has remained an attractive source of high quality prints on shirts.

Digital printing on t-shirts is referred to as DTG direct to garment printing and has advantages and disadvantages compared to screen printing. Advantages in number of colors and can achieve photo like affects. Also pixel wise what you see is what you get where screen printing is burnt onto a screen. DTG has huge advantages for one off designs or small quantity orders as there is no set up fees cost pertaining to color separations and screens. DTG does have its down falls though and is coming a long way to over come these. Screen Printing still beats out DTG in cost and in larger order sizes and some color processes. Screen printing still has a lot of advantages over DTG on both the graphical and production side of things and will be around for a long time. Screen printing t-shirts can and is a art and art form that combines the artwork and process into a art form and can result in a piece of art. Screen printing t-shirts is very complex and has many different processes for artwork, color, inks, and processes. Screen printing process can be cmyk color, simulated process, spot colors and many more. It also utilizes halftones which is complex but can achieve amazing color results. There are many minor problems associated with screen printing and they have been overcome with creative technique which makes screen printing t-shirts complex and an art.

Don't hesitate to give Xtreme Signs & T-Shirt  a call today about your current projects or upcoming ones. Get a free quote on services by calling  903-887-8800  or by e-mailing

Keywords: Screen Printing, T-shirts