1. Create the ArtworkThe best way to create artwork is to have it copied onto a transparency. Original artwork can be painted directly onto a transparency or onto any piece of sturdy and clear plastic. If you are a beginner, you'd better create simple designs with fairly clear, thick lines since screen printing delicate, fine-lined artwork can be tricky.
2. Gather the Necessary MaterialsOnce the artwork has been prepared, it is time to gather the necessary materials and equipment:
- Clean Object to Be Printed - The screen printing can be done on anything made from fabric, like a t-shirt, a bag, a hat and more.
- Durable Screen Frame - The screen frame is usually made of wood. Metal screens are the most durable and stand up to many printings.
- Flat Black Paper or Fabric - It should be large enough on which to place the frame. It is the surface on which the screen is placed to burn the image onto the screen.
- Photosensitive Emulsion and Activator - Mix enough sensitizer and emulsion together to thoroughly cover the screen.
- Screen Printing Ink - You need to prepare enough screen printing ink to transfer the design to the object being printed.
- Squeegee - It is an important tool for screen printing. It is used to apply and spread the ink through the screen onto the object.
3. Prepare the Screen
You should make sure that the fabric is stretched as tight as possible and is secured thoroughly with a staple gun applied all around the frame. It is important to keep the fabric straight so that the holes in the mesh of the fabric allow the ink to pass through it evenly.
4. Apply the Emulsion
First, you should mix enough sensitizer and emulsion together to thoroughly cover the screen. Next, you should place the screen in a dark place to dry. You need to make sure that the emulsion on the screen is dry completely.
5. Burn the ImageOnce the emulsion on the screen is completely dry, you should put your screen face down, then place your artwork on the back, and lay a piece of clean glass on top of the artwork. Next, you should place a lump above the screen, turn on your lamp. Make sure at this point you set up your timer! Usually 10 to 15 minutes is enough for this process to be complete.
6. Rinse the ScreenAs soon as your time is done, quickly bring your screen to a sink, a shower or tub, or outdoors with a garden hose. This part can take a bit of time, but soon your design will begin to reveal itself! Once the screen is thoroughly rinsed, the design should be visible as a see - through part of the screen, like a stencil made out of mesh.
7. PrintNow the easy part - printing! Take your screen, and place it on top of the fabric or object to be printed. It is important to work on a flat surface so that the image is not distorted. When you are ready to begin the printing process, they can lay the screen down with the substrate side touching the fabric to be printed. Next, run a small bit of ink across the top of the design with your spatula, and holding your screen nice and firmly, use your squeegee to slide the ink down across the image, pressing the ink through the screen onto the fabric underneath. Do this only once or twice, but firmly. Lift the screen up, and you're done!
Some screen printing ink manufacturers recommend "curing," which is placing the printed object in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F for just about 30 seconds. Other ink makers recommend ironing the back of the printed fabric to help set the ink. You should be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the ink being used.
8. Cure and Clean Up
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