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Screen Printing on Fabric

Screen printing on fabric can be both bright and colorful, providing a unique three-dimensional effect. Sinosilk is specialized in this technology and offers you a range of other process options. If you have an idea for a custom screen printed fabric, please contact us for a consultation.

What is Screen Printing on Fabric?

Screen printing on fabric is the original printing technology, its main components in addition to the fabric and ink that we all know, there are screen plates and scrapers for printing patterns, and printing tables for laying fabrics. It uses a silk screen as plate making material, through the method of photosensitive design color for plate making. It is based on template cutting. A sheet of finely woven mesh fabric is placed taut on the frame to cover it with an impervious formwork. The fabric that needs to be printed is placed under it, and the ink or dye is scraped over the stencil to pass through the perforated part of the stencil. A series of such plates can be printed in a variety of colors.

Its printing results are more saturated in color, and screen printing on dark fabrics can also produce bright and vivid colors, which is better than other printing methods.

Types of Screen Printing on Fabric

Hand screen printing is a traditional printing technology, and machine screen printing are the same screen printing on fabric.

The uniqueness of traditional hand screen printing can not be replaced by other flat printing, so this technology continues to develop to today. However, this process completely relies on human printing, prone to many uncertainties, and to carry out large quantities of printing is relatively time consuming and labor consuming, then machine screen printing came into being.

Wax printing, tie-dye and hand bedplate printing are all hand screen printing processes.

What Paint to Use for Screen Printing on Fabric?

Screen printing on fabric typically uses plastisol ink, a durable ink made of polyvinyl chloride resin and plasticizer. Plastisol ink resists washing, rubbing, and shrinkage, making it ideal for creating long-lasting prints. When heated, the ink melts and binds to the fibers of the fabric, ensuring that it won’t fade quickly.

Water-based ink is another option for screen printing. This type of ink is bright and can be dissolved in water, which allows the fabric to be fully dyed while maintaining its softness. However, water-based ink is best used on light-colored fabrics.

The correct choice of ink can not only make the effect better, but also ensure that the fabric printing will not fade easily and can be used for a longer time. Plastisol ink is a popular choice for its resistance to fading, while water-based ink is ideal for achieving vibrant, soft prints on light fabrics.

The Best Fabric to Screen Print on

Fabrics suitable for hand screen printing are silk, wool, modal, cotton and polyester fabrics, other thin fabrics such as silk and cotton blended, chiffon, georgette and habotai can also be done, but they are prone to defects and need to be carefully considered.

Machine screen printing is mainly suitable for polyester fabrics.

How Do You Screen Print on Fabric

Workflow of hand screen printing:

  • Make screen plates. According to the color of the design  to make the screen plate, which is the premise of all the next steps.
  • Wash the table. This is the end of one pattern and the beginning of another.
  • Attach fabric. Pay attention to the horizontal and vertical must be aligned.
  • Straightened and smooth. To make sure that there is no wrinkle, then use a scraper to scrape the fabric into shape.
  • Check carefully. Check for small bumps or weft deviations.
  • Start to print. After workers put the fabric in place, they move the screen plate up and down, and then use the scraper to print.

Machine screen printing is all the same as hand screen printing in terms of preparation before printing.Machine screen printing refers to the printing process completed by the mechanical action, which is divided into semi-automatic and automatic printing. Semi-automatic printing is done by workers putting fabrics in and out, and printing is done by machines. Automatic printing is done by the machine to complete all printing steps, including the movement of fabrics and screen plates.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Screen Printing on Fabric

Advantages are as follows:

  • Well done printing: It can  print high-quality images with bright colors and strong layering, and can achieve high-precision printing effects and a stronger sense of three-dimensional. Because the penetration effect of this technology is good, it can achieve the same color on the front and back.
  • Durability: Screen printing inks and pigments have strong durability, are not easy to fade or flake, and can remain beautiful for a long time.
  • High production efficiency: It can quickly print a large number of products, suitable for large-scale production.

The disadvantages:

  • High cost: Screen printing requires the production of special screen plates, plate making costs are high. Not suitable for small batch production.
  • Limitations in design: It can not do complex and changeable design, gradual color design can not be done.
  • Bulk production time is relatively long.

Screen Printing on Fabric VS. Digital Printing on Fabric

The two most common ways to print on fabrics today are screen printing and digital printing. Screen printing involves printing pigments from a screen plate onto the fabric with a scraper, while digital printing requires no other medium and can be printed directly on the fabric with a printer. 

Screen printing requires a lot of time to create a screen plate based on each color of the design before proceeding to print, while digital printing is done by printing the design directly onto the fabric through an application.

Screen printing as long as the screen plate is made,  the design is not changed, no matter how many quantities can use the same plate, so the unit price of bulk will be lower. And the larger the quantity of digital printing, the more expensive the unit price of bulk will be.

Screen printing is suitable for printing simple designs. Digital printing is flexible so any design can be printed.

Due to the different printing process, the ink of screen printing can better penetrate the fabric, while digital printing can not do that. So from the back of the fabric, screen printing is better than digital printing.

Distinguish between hand screen printing on Fabric and machine screen printing on Fabric

Hand screen printing on fabric Machine screen printing on fabric
Professional printers are hard to find and difficult to manage. Ordinary workers can operate the machine to print, easy to manage.
The quality will be affected by the physical strength and mood of the printer. The machine can continue to work, the quality is stable.
Labor costs are rising. It requires only one investment and can be produced in unlimited quantities.
Limited physical strength of workers. The machine can work 24 hours.
Small printing width Large printing width, wide screen plate.
It is difficult to overprint large plate The machine can accurately overprint no matter the size of the screen plate.
Simplex small cut printing Simplex multi-cut block printing.
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