Screen Printing 101: Process, Types, and Benefits

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Screen Printing 101: Process, Types, and Benefits

Screen printing has become a popular method for creating mass printing tasks across various industries due to its customizable colour options. It originated in the advertising industry sector in the 19th century and can be done manually or through automation using advanced technology.

The main advantage of screen printing is its ability to print on almost any surface, such as fabric, paper, glass, wood, card, plastic, or leather. This article will cover the purposes, types, and benefits of screen printing. 

What is screen printing?

screen printing glass

Screen printing, also known as silk screening or serigraphy, involves pushing ink through a stencil onto a substrate. It can be applied to various surfaces, including those that are irregular or rounded. This printing technique is widely used in many different sectors and is particularly suitable for printing on CNC precision parts and plastic injection molding parts.

How does it work?

screen printing

Screen printing involves stretching mesh over a frame to create a stencil for transferring ink or paint onto a material. The mesh can be made of metal or nylon and must be under tension for it to function properly. The stencil is created by blocking out parts of the screen print and using a negative representation of the desired design.

The pre-press process involves applying emulsion to the screen and exposing open areas of it to ultraviolet light using to create a film with the pattern. The emulsion is then washed away, leaving a clean area in the mesh in the shape of the design. In fabric printing, a pallet covered with tape is used to prevent ink from seeping through and staining the pallet or transferring to the machine or next substrate.

The steps for screen printing are shown below:

# 1. Drafting the design


Making the design is the initial step in the screen-printing procedure. The original printed image or text from which the screen printer will create copies of the design is required for the silk-screening process. The chosen design or pattern will then be printed onto a clear acetate film that will serve as the printing surface or as stencils.

# 2. Select and set up the mesh on the screen

The selection of photo emulsion and a mesh screen for the silk-screening process is the next stage. However, it would be beneficial if you selected a photo emulsion and a mesh screen based on the type of material for the printing and the complexity of the design. After that, apply a layer of sensitivity to the light on photo emulsion and on the mesh screen.

The total number of fibers in a square inch is known as the mesh count. The design being printed will determine the mesh size you need. Finer details can be printed with a greater mesh count while still maintaining a thin ink layer. Wider gaps on screens with low mesh counts allow the ink to pass through. After the mesh screen has been chosen, a coating of light-reactive emulsion is applied to it.

Remember, emulsions often come in three different categories.

  • Diazo:

This is somehow less expensive, requires a longer exposure, and is unsuitable for creating many prints with fine edge details.

  • SBQ-based:

This does not require mixing, cures very quickly, is pricey to produce, and is suitable for intricate glass work. And lastly,

  • Dual-cure emulsions:

This is a mixture of diazo and SBQ that must be mixed, has a shorter total cure time than diazo, and costs less money than SBQ.

# 3. Put the emulsion paint in the light.

Placing both the mesh screen and the acetate transfer sheet with the design in bright light It aids in the emulsion paint’s hardening. Consider using a separate glass mesh screen for each color of ink if the design calls for multiple colors.

# 4. Preparing the stencil is the next step

After some time, the screen area that was not covered by the printed design hardens, and any emulsion that was not hardened by the concentrated light washes away. The desired design is beautifully imprinted on the mesh screen. After the wash-up, the screen is fully dried, and the stencil is prepared for use again.

# 5. Do the screen-printing setup

Put the mesh containing printed image of the design into place on the printing press. Manufacturers typically employ both manual and automatic presses. Therefore, if your project calls for multicolor printing, an automatic printing press is your best bet. Under the screen, there is a metal printing board where the material to be printed is placed.

# 6. Design printout

Carefully press and transfer the ink from the screen onto the object using a squeegee. When the ink penetrates the screen or squeegee and reaches the material used to print on, it leaves the design imprinted on it. When printing numerous items, you must repeat the procedure by placing a fresh object, paper or substrate under the screen.

# 7. Heat-cure the design to complete it

With the aid of a dryer, the transmitted pain on the item completely dries up. Prior to putting the finished product on the market, you must wash it and inspect it for leftovers after it has dried. The mesh screen must also be cleaned with chemicals before being prepared for use again.

Getting to know the typical screen-printing equipment

Since you are familiar with how screen printing operates, let’s look at the typical tools used in the procedure.

The screen printer

screen printer

This securely retains the mesh screen between prints and is a necessary piece of equipment. Under the mesh screen, it enables the easy change of printed objects.

The Inks

The inks or pigments used for silk screen print have a variety of alternatives and are significant. For fine screen printing, there are specialized inks that provide stunning effects on the finished products. Printing businesses frequently use texturized inks, puff inks, or sparkly inks to give their silk screen print output for customers a distinctive look.

screen ink

The Silk Screen

This is another important piece of equipment when it comes to screen printing. To imprint the stencil, you must place the clear film on the mesh screen. Originally with screens formed of silk threads fabrics, mesh screens are now available in several varieties made of polyester textiles fabrics. The quality of the final prints you create is also determined by the mesh screen’s thread count, thickness, and texture.

The Squeegees

Simple rubber blades connected to a handle made of plastic or wood make squeegees. Until the ink reaches the printed product, these blades force the ink through the mesh screen. The squeegees used in the silk-screening process come in a variety of styles. Usually, the sort of squeegee you use depends on the mesh screen frame.

The Washing Station

This feature includes a rapid drain mechanism, screen holder, and lighting. Filtration methods fit snugly underneath.

The Types of Screen Printing

Screen printing has different procedures that will offer different results. Knowing the various varieties is important because of this. And these include the following:

The Spot Color Screen Printing

Spot Color Screen Printing

This is the most basic screen printing method. Spot color screen printing utilizes the stock color of the ink by printing it via the mesh’s stencil. This method results in a vivid, solid area of color. Comparatively speaking to other screen-printing techniques, it is easier to use.

The Halftone Printing

Single colors in gradients are printed using halftone printing. One color of ink is used throughout the process, and when viewed from a distance, this color seems half-toned and has a different hue. The best application for this approach is to mimic multi-color printing without actually doing it. Additionally, because only one color of ink is utilized, it is a cost-effective solution.

The Grayscale Printing

Grayscale Printing

Printing full-color images as halftones or grayscales in one color is a great way to use grayscale printing. If the halftone has more dots, the print will appear more detailed. It is not a black-and-white method; rather, it just extracts the CMY, RGB, or color scales, but in various degrees of gray. One of the most economical screen-printing methods, grayscale printing, is frequently used to print black and white graphics on textiles.

The Duotone Printing

Duotone Printing

For printing the same image in two colors, for example, this technique combines two halftones. A black halftone image is first printed with black ink, followed by the printing of a second halftone using colored ink. Similar to sepia-toned prints used in photography, this method It produces a polished, artistic impression.

The 4-color printing (CMYK)

4-color printing

This is the most intricate method of screen printing. The four primary colors—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—are used. To create the necessary combination of color tones, these four colors are blended. Although it can be done manually, for optimal results, it should be performed automatically.

The Simulated Process Printing

This method combines spot-color printing technology with the four-color printing method. This method of printing is adaptable and well-liked by people who want to achieve photorealistic print quality and details, as it works for both brighter and darker colors.

The benefits and drawbacks of screen printing

Screen printing is a productive art method that has several other forms and uses across numerous industry sectors.


The following are some of the main advantages of screen printing:

Versatile / Multipurpose Method

Regardless of a product’s size, shape, or composition, silk screen printing can be used on it. This method enables printing on a flat surface and creates items with complex or uneven shapes, such as spherical surfaces. The use of various colors in printing is also made possible by this procedure.

Efficacy and quickness

As long as the screen is prepared, screen printing is the fastest and most effective printing method. It is the best choice for many art tasks that require repeated design elements.

Streamlined Procedure

Whether done manually or automatically, printing is a rather simple procedure. What’s more, the equipment and supplies you need to print is not difficult to use or prohibitively expensive to replace.

Powerful Graphics

In order to provide a vivid and orderly design look, this procedure uses thick ink coverage, guaranteeing the durability, quality and caliber of the printed fabric pattern. Because the ink is dyed to match the fabric, it won’t crack or fade away too quickly. The ink can be made more resilient to moisture, UV rays, chemicals, and scratches by adding specific coatings and additives. It renders the screen-printed parts resistant to deterioration in hostile conditions and outdoor use.


There are drawbacks to screen printing, despite it being a flexible technique with many advantages. Here are a few examples:

It has more color options and higher costs

Since only one color can be produced via the screen printing process at once, multicolor printing is difficult and relatively sluggish. Because each color requires a separate screen, the procedure is more expensive. Similar to the screen printing process, which has a significant tendency for inadequate color registration, this process results in higher costs and higher item waste levels.

It has hefty setup fees

The silk screen printing method has a high initial setup cost for customers. Therefore, it is better for customers to contract with a specialized supplier for goods and materials that need screen printing.


There are several uses for screen printing, which is an efficient method. This article should have made the method more understandable and explained some of the applications it has for plastic materials. Get your free, no-obligation quote by contacting our website at if you’re interested in screen printing or other component marking services.  

You can find more details on the types of markings and materials we use, our rules for each phase, and in detail what we’ll do if there are any gaps in the quality of the information to make sure your order is delivered on schedule and in accordance with your specifications in detail on that paper. Get a free quote by getting in touch with us right away!


Q: Will the ink used in screen printing wash off?

A: Yes, but this does not happen frequently. It can somehow last for an extended period of time. It is a long-lasting material that can withstand 40 to 50 machine washes, especially if it is handled and cared for correctly.

Q: What type of image is used for screen printing?

A: There are two types of digital art used for screen printing: raster and vector.

Raster art, or artwork created in Adobe Photoshop, is an image made up of pixels that vary in tone, color, and shade. The image of resolution determines the image’s clarity, with higher resolutions producing clearer images.

Vector images, created in Adobe Illustrator, are made up of paths and are preferred for creating logos and text pictures due to their aesthetic appeal and user-friendly format. Some vector images can have intricate gradients, layers, and effects to create them.

Q: How accurate is screen printing?

A: It’s undeniable that screen printing technology has a good reputation for quality. The prints they produce are very enduring, and the colors they produce are rich and bright. Simple patterns with few details or colors work best for screen printing.


Gavin Leo is a technical writer at Aria with 8 years of experience in Engineering, He proficient in machining characteristics and surface finish process of various materials. and participated in the development of more than 100complex injection molding and CNC machining projects. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and experience.