Custom Screen Printing

Custom Screen Printing

What's screen printing? 


Screen printing (also known as silk screening) is a popular printing process that pushes ink through a mesh screen to print your graphic design on a flat surface.  Examples are screen print t-shirts and screen printed canvas tote bags.


Plastisol ink for screen printing is commonly used because it produces vibrant, bold colors that are difficult to replicate with other printing techniques such as digital printing.  At Bolt Printing, we refer to screen printing as "traditional" printing.



 Behind the scenes look at how Bolt Printing's team screen prints shirts  


So what happens after we receive your high quality art files?  Custom-made screens for the screen printing process begins.  Here's the step-by-step process:


1. ART SEPARATION - the design is separated into layers by the number of print colors in the design.

2. CREATE A FILM POSITIVE - each layer is converted to black color and printed onto a transparent positive film for screen print.Screen print film positive3. PREPARE MESH SCREENS with photosensitive chemicals - This is one of the most important parts of what we do as printing experts here at Bolt Printing.  The film is now placed onto a mesh screen, cleaned with a degreaser, and then coated with emulsion.  The light-sensitive emulsion is exposed using UV light that burns the image onto the screen, thus creating a stencil.    After the screen is exposed, it's rinsed off and fully dried.
Mesh screens for custom screen-printing
4. SCREEN PRINTING - note that one screen is used for each color to be printed.  For the colors to line up correctly, it's important that the screens line up (or registered).  Ink is added to the screen and pushed through evenly with a squeegee onto the t-shirt.  When there is a multi-colored screen, we often "flash" dry between layers of color to prevent bleeding.
Screen printing custom designs
5. BELT DRYER - the final step in the screen printing process is to place the printed t-shirts onto a conveyer belt that is heated at 380 degrees.  This ensures the quality of the design for many years to come.

Shirts coming down drying belt