How does SCREEN PRINTING work ?

Ink + screen (mesh stencil) = screenprinting. The process itself has very little limits on what surfaces can be used to print on. Staying on trend with this process, considering all of the awesome ink types available that can manipulate the “look” of the final print.

Expert printers understand the relationships between the various inks, shirt materials, and shirt colors – with this knowledge, we’re able to help achieve the look you’re going for.

Silk screening is done completely by hand. This type of printing is deal for artwork that only has 1-2 colors or huge quantities. You can tell a t-shirt has been silk screened If you run your hand over the ink. It will have a raised feel to it. This is due to the ink being put on the front of the t-shirt.


Screen Printing

Pros & Cons


  • long lasting
  • big order friendly
  • produces vibrant colors that are hard to replicate by other printing techniques
  • allows for greater thickness of the ink
  • versatile

The Decorator’s Guide

Struggling to get your head around how promotional production creation works?

We know it’s complicated, so we’ve created an in-depth breakdown of all the decoration processes we use in our industry.

We’ve organised each chapter into bite size, simplified FAQ’s covering average turnaround times, insider tips on inks and techniques, and the recommended surfaces for each technique, so you can pass on your worthy knowledge to your customers.

Screen printing is a printing method which involves the transfer of ink directly onto a substrate using a screen. It is commonly used to decorate fabrics.


What surfaces or objects are best suited for screen printing?

Screen printing works best on items made of 100% cotton. The better the quality of the cotton, the better the result.

What objects, products or surface are least suited for screen printing?

Garments made of blended materials. Good results can still be achieved using blended materials but printing requires special techniques and extra care.

How long does this type of printing customisation last?

When printing is done correctly, the printed designs will last longer than the t-shirt itself. Cracked designs indicate that incorrect temperature was used when curing the ink. Machines used for ink curing should be regularly checked, especially the heat tunnels and temperature drop alarms to reduce the risk of temperature issues.

What is an advantage with this decorating method?

We have a world-class team of designers working to create high quality separations, and we have 16 colour TAS machines to bring it all together and create outstanding results.

What can be considered as a disadvantage to screen printing?


On average, how long does it take to complete a client’s order?

It can take 5 to 7 days to complete a project. Lead time depends on the number of items to be decorated.

How long do setups take for this type of decoration method?

Setup time for screen printing may take a bit longer compared to the other printing methods. After deciding on the artwork to be used, a mockup has to be created then turned into a film which is later on converted into screens to be used for printing.

Repeat jobs have simpler setups. Does it cost less?

Initial setups are charged but for repeat projects, setup costs may not be charged again.

Are samples or mockups provided?

A sample may be provided to determine if the colours are true to the client’s desire when applied onto a garment, but at a recoverable fee. In most cases, clients will receive a clear digital photo via email at the planning stage for approval.

Do rejections occur in screen printing?

As with other decorating or printing methods, rejections are always possible. The rejection rate is at 0 to 2% in screen printing.

What artwork file provides the best image to be used in screen printing?

Vector file is best for screen printing. It is print-machine friendly.

What does four-colour process and dot gain mean?

The CMYK or four-colour process is a printing method used to produce full-colour images. The colours cyan, magenta, yellow and black are printed separately on top of each other onto the substrate to be able to create an impression of multiple colours on the finished product. This printing method does not work well on textile or fabric because a dot of ink can deposit into the open weave of the yarn. To achieve an accurate image, screen printing uses the four-colour process together with the dot gain technique. Dot gain is an occurrence that helps printed materials to appear darker than it should. It is an effective method to help cover the open weaves of the fibre.

Are different effects applicable to screen printing?

Yes. Flock printing, foil printing, glitter and high build printing are commonly used for special effects. The 16 colour TAS machines are highly efficient in providing the ultimate full-coloured images.

What does white base mean?

Before applying the ink to a substrate especially coloured ones, a white ink is applied first to act as a base. The white base ensures that the printed logo or image will stay true to its colour. Not using a white base on coloured fabrics can highly affect the colours of the finished product. It can either be dull or too bright.

You won’t see any white colour as the white base will be entirely covered with the logo or graphic design. To prevent thickness or heaviness of the printed area, it’s important to only apply a thin layer of white.

Why is ink curing required?

Once the ink is transferred onto the fabric, the garment will be placed in a heat tunnel for ink curing. The application of heat dries the ink and ensures that it adheres to the fabric. Ink curing requires a heat of 160 degrees. Not enough heat during this process can cause the ink or design to crack later on.

What is dye migration?

Dye migration happens when the dye from the garment affects the screen print colour making it look dull. This usually occurs in polyester fabrics where the dyes are activated by heat. Bright red print on a black polyester shirt turns to dull red due to dye migration.

To prevent the screen print from being contaminated by the fabric dye, a base can be printed first to act as a blocker.

Is it suitable for printing seams or edges?

Screen printing can be used to decorate the seams or edges of a fabric or garment. It’s a good decorative method for clients who want to cover the t-shirts with graphics all around.

Out of all the recommended products, what is the most decorated product in screen printing?

Screen printing is commonly used to decorate t-shirts.

Are PMS colours replicated easily, coated or uncoated?

Yes, but before starting the printing process customers are always informed by printing operators that mixing PMS colours are done by eye and achieving the perfect match is not always possible.

Are clients required to inform printing operators on the type of fabric to be branded prior to receiving the items?

Any type of fabric will be accepted, but it helps to know what type of fabric needs printing especially if it’s polyester and the design has multiple colours. Along with the image to be printed, knowing the type of fabric helps in making adjustments before proceeding.

Are there instances when items were not printed successfully?

Unfavorable results usually occur when a project requires a 12-colour large print design to be printed on polyester. If a large print design is to be printed seam to seam, then ink bleeding will happen, affecting the overall result.

To prevent ink bleeding the print design should be placed 10mm away from the seam.

What’s the best advice for distributors so they can make their screen printed t-shirts business succeed?

Find a screen print decorator you can fully rely on to provide quality results.


Visit various shops.

A messy workplace or shop indicates an unsystematic decorator who will likely deliver late. Also, make sure that this print decorator has your back in case problems occur.


  • not practical for small orders
  • the more colors, the more expensive it is
  • it’s not environmentally friendly
  • relative complexity

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