Silk screen printing is one of the old ways to do T-shirt printing. UK T-shirt designers still do this despite the popularity of digital printing. Beginners can do this with just a few inexpensive materials.
Step 1: Get everything you need.
You need a screen and frame, photo emulsion and sensitizer, latex gloves, silk screen fabric ink, and a piece of cardboard. You also need a light bulk (preferably 250 watts). A dark room is essential.
Step 2: Make the image.
The image is the aspect of T-shirt printing UK artists consider most importantly. Beginners should start simple. Avoid fine detail or thin lines or anything that is difficult to work on a shirt. You can use photo editing software to create your image. You want a black image, which you need to print out on a transparency paper. The black image blocks out the light.
Step 3: Coat the screen.
Note that the emulsion should come with a sensitiser. Follow instructions on the bottle when mixing both components. Work somewhere you can make a mess, maybe a vacant room. Don’t do this in your bedroom.
Start pouring a bit of the emulsion mixture on the screen. Using a squeegee spread the mixture evenly. Make sure you spread the mixture over an area a bit larger than your desired image to ensure you’re getting the whole print. You may have to repeat the process. See if the screen is properly coated, a thin and even layer of coat throughout the screen. Afterwards, set it aside in a completely dark room for two hours. Check if it’s completely dry.
Step 4: Develop the image.
After making sure that the screen is already dry, it’s time to expose the image. Put down the screen on a black surface and tape the transparency paper with your image on the screen. Set up the 250-watt lamp about a foot or two over your screen. Leave other lights in the room turned off. Get out of the room and come back after 10 or 15 minutes. Gently remove the transparency.
The light burns the image on the screen. See how the image looks. If it’s good, then it’s time to work on it. Otherwise, leave it for a few minutes still and come back. Don’t leave it too long, as the light can overexpose the image.
Step 5: Prepare the screen for shirt printing.
Clean the screen before you use it for T-shirt printing. You can use a spray or a hose. The water will wash away the section where your image is. Keep spraying until the area where the image becomes clear of any debris. Inspect the screen against the light to see if it looks just like you intended. Leave it to dry again.
Step 6: Start printing.
Work on a table with an even, flat surface. Make sure it’s clean.
Place a cardboard inside your shirt just below the area you desire to print the design on. Then set the screen on that area. Spread a small of ink on the screen. Smooth it over the screen using your squeegee to push the ink across the image. Lift the screen. Check that the desired image has formed on the shirt. Leave the print on the shirt to dry.
When you’re done printing on shirts, clean the screen. Rinse it thoroughly to remove the ink. You can use it again to make the same label or print. Or you can remove the emulsion on the screen and make a new image.
Screen printing can be daunting for beginners, but it’s fun to do when you’re used to it. For newbies, mistakes are inevitable. So you might want to try doing it on a piece of paper or fabric before actually trying it on your shirt. See if you can come up with even and clearly defined results.
Once you get to know all the procedure, making your own shirt designs should be easy. Large T-shirt printing UK companies still incorporate screen printing. So if you’re having trouble setting up your bespoke tee printing space at home, don’t hesitate to dial the right digits.