Steps to screen printing
Updated: Jun 19
Silk screen printing has been used for hundreds of years to add personalized designs to all kinds of different materials. Over time the silk screen printing process has evolved into a popular printing method for many products you come across in your daily life. This is especially true when it comes to the cosmetic industry.
The steps we use for our silk screen printing process allows our team to quickly transition between sample and production runs.
What is silk screen printing?
The method of transferring a design onto the desired material by forcing ink through a layer of screen mesh with a squeegee.
A wooden or metal screen frame will hold a fine mesh fabric stretched tightly with the image inside.
How the steps to our screen printing process work
Step 1: Submit a design
A design is submitted to our team.
Multiple colors would require a separate screen and artwork for each colored image.
Step 2: Expose the screen
We place the designed image on an emulsion coated screen and expose the screen to a timed bright light. The bright light hardens the light sensitive emulsion, which locks all the emulsion in place, except the designed image.
A pressure washer is used to remove the unhardened excess emulsion, leaving just the design.
Screen mesh is determined by the thickness of the print. A low mesh count would allow more ink to pass through the screen. A higher mesh count will control the amount of ink when printing more detailed designs.
Step 3: Setup a machine to accommodate the part
A machine is set up depending on the specifics of the part. Factors that determine how the machine is set up include:
Is the part a flat surface
Is the printing surface cylindrical
Is additional tooling required
Does the printed design need to be located to bottle seams
Our screen printing equipment can be adjusted accommodate multiple screen printing methods.
Step 4: Match ink color and test for adhesion
We run samples to match the requested color.
Whether it is simply black ink or a target PMS color, we have the ability to match custom colors.
A ink series is selected based on the parameters of the part. For example, is the material plastic or metal.
Ink adhesion depends on the part material and customers adhesion testing requirements.
Step 5: Screen print the part
Once the proper silk screen printing ink is determined, the job is ready to run.
A squeegee is used to push ink through the mesh screen and onto the part.
Step 6: Cure the ink
The screen printed part is then placed on a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt will run through a conventional oven for a set limit of time.
Time inside of the oven and oven temperature depends on the material of the part and the adhesion requirements.
Some materials require the silk screen printing ink to be cured by UV light. In this case, a bright light is used to dry the ink to the part.
Step 7: Pack completed parts
There are two ways to have your parts packaged upon return.
Parts ship out in boxes that are weighed to a specific count.
Layer packing parts in a box to specific counts and requirements. Typically with layer boards or foam sheets.
The Production Decorating team has got you covered when it comes to screen printing work.
Some jobs may require a different mesh count, use of a transparent film, or involve testing multiple series of screen printing inks but our general step by step framework remains the same. This helps to maximize our in house screen printing equipment and to meet the customers timing expectations.
Although we specialize in screen printing cosmetics, we do have the capabilities of silk screening many other jobs. Take a look around our project gallery to get an idea of our capabilities and if screen printing could be right for your product.
If you have any questions about our silk screen printing process or about a specific job you are looking to get printed, reach out to our team. We will do what we can to accommodate the specifics of your project.