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How is screen printing done?

Screen printing is a hands-on way of putting ink on a shirt.
Most print shops have automated and/or digital presses with a large crew of printers, but here everthing is hand-pulled by Gregg Weiss on a manual 4-color press. With his attention to detail, each shirt gets a high-quality print.

How does the process work?

It starts with a vector design on a computer.
The design can have up to 4 spot colors in it - we have a 4-color press.
Each color in the design will require a screen, or stencil.
To make a screen, files are sent to a camera output house where a
film positive is created for each screen.
This is the opposite of a film negative: the area you want to print is black and the rest stays clear.

Next- screens are thinly coated with a photosensitive emulsion.
A film positive is placed on a coated screen and exposed under light.
The emulsion hardens in the exposed areas, but stays soft under the opaque parts of the film.
A rinse under water washes out the soft emulsion, leaving a "hole" or stencil in the screen.

After drying, the screen is ready to be set up on press. If there is more than one color or screen, micro-registration is needed to make sure they line up precisely.

Ink colors are mixed and prepared for printing.

Now we are ready to print!
A shirt is loaded onto the press by smoothing it out flat onto a platen.
(No seams or zippers!)
Ink is pushed across the screen and onto the shirt using a squeegee.
The shirt is placed under a heating element to set the inks.
It becomes very repetitive as each shirt gets printed one color at a time.

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