WHAT IS SILK SCREEN PRINTING?
Screenprinting, silkscreening, or
serigraphy is a printmaking technique that creates a sharp-edged image
using a stencil. A screenprint or serigraph is an image created using
It began as an industrial technology, and was adopted by American
graphic artists in the early 1900s. It is currently popular both in
fine arts and in commercial printing, where it is commonly used to
print images on T-shirts, hats, CDs, DVDs, ceramics, glass,
polyethylene, polypropylene, paper, metals, and wood.
Graphic screenprinting is widely used today to create many mass or
large batch produced graphics, such as posters or display stands. Full
color prints can be created by printing in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow
and black). Screenprinting is often preferred over other processes
such as dye sublimation or inkjet printing because of its low cost and
ability to print on many media.
A screen is made of a piece of
porous, finely woven fabric (originally silk, but typically made of
polyester or nylon since the 1940s) stretched over an aluminium frame.
Areas of the screen are blocked off with a non-permeable material—a
stencil—which is a positive of the image to be printed; that is, the
open spaces are where the ink will appear.
The screen is placed on top of a piece of dry paper or fabric. Ink is
placed on top of the screen, and a squeegee (rubber blade) is used to
push the ink evenly into the screen openings and onto the substrate.
The ink passes through the open spaces in the screen onto the paper or
fabric below; the screen is lifted away and then the squeegee is
pushed back across the screen, with the screen lifted, "flooding" the
ink into the screen. The screen can be re-used after cleaning. If more
than one color is being printed on the same surface, the ink is
allowed to dry and then the process is repeated with another screen
and different color of ink.
While the public thinks of garments in conjunction with screen
printing, the technique is used on tens of thousands of items,
including birthday cake designs, decals, clock and watch faces, and
many more products. The vast majority of silk-screen printings are