SouthPaw Graphics & Printing
Something that never fails to make our day is when a customer who has never seen shirts in print production before, picks up their order at our shop and is amazed by the process. The majority of "first timers" express to us that they had no idea so much is involved in the print process. We got to thinking that maybe everyone should have a better understanding of what goes into delivering quality printed garments. Here is a look at the screen printing process at Southpaw Graphics & Printing.
First, we prepare the art. Many times we receive art that is not quite print-ready. We take the time to ensure that the art is ready for film, resulting in a print that has clean, bold lines with noticeable details.
2. From Computer Screen to Film
Next, we print the art on film. For each color, a separate film needs to be created. This process is known as color separation. Think of each film as a layer that must be re-aligned on the press. We use these films to create precise stencils of your custom art. If your art has one color, this step can be as basic as a quick quality check before and after printing. Art with multiple colors requires more time.
3. Double Check for Quality
After film output, we proof our work again. At Southpaw Graphics & Printing, we take great pride in our attention to detail and our efforts to providing superior quality. We take the time and care to do things right.
4. Choosing the Right Screen
Now it is time to prepare the screen. Choosing the right mesh count is key to quality printing. We stock a variety of mesh screens from an 85 count to 305 count. Each custom print requires a different amount of ink to flow through the mesh screen depending on the detail and type of art.
5. Preparing and Exposing the Screen
Once the appropriate screen is selected, we begin the process of creating the stencil using the film we earlier created. We prep the film against the screen, measuring the dimensions to ensure the print will show up at the correct location on the garment. Once again we quality check our work for accuracy. To complete the stencil, we expose the screen in an exposure unit which is basically a 1200 LED light box using an industry grade emulsion to transfer the design from film to screen. The film is kept in a customer file for your convenience should you choose to have more prints done in the future, reducing your screen cost in half on a reorder.
6. Final Preparations to Print
The screen is then rinsed with a 1700PSI pressure washer, this process will allow the ink to flow only within the specified boundaries of the stencil. The prepped screen is then again inspected again for quality and accuracy. The press is then prepped with fresh tack tape (Keeping the print pallets tacky ensures the garments do not move out of place during printing) and for multiple color designs, all screens are aligned for accurate layering of colors.
7. Time to Print!
Garments are manually loaded on the press by hand for printing. Multiple color designs are flash cured between colors so bleeding does not occur. Once the print is complete, the garments are unloaded from the press by hand and placed on a conveyor belt to go through a high heat infrared tunnel dryer to properly cure the ink.
8. The Final Result
A high quality, long last custom garment