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Technology

Screen printing methods

Author:Ivan Zhang

Plastisol          Siebdruckmaschine
the most common plastisol based print used in garment decoration. Good colour opacity onto dark garments and clear graphic detail with, as the name suggests, a more plasticized texture. This print can be made softer with special additives or heavier by adding extra layers of ink. 

Water Based inks
these penetrate the fabric more than the plastisol inks and create a much softer feel. Ideal for printing darker inks onto lighter coloured garments. Also useful for larger area prints where texture is important. 

PVC/ Phalate Free
relatively new breed of ink and printing with the benefits of plastisol but without the two main toxic components - soft feeling print. 

Discharge inks
used to print lighter colours onto dark background fabrics, they work by removing the dye in the garment – this means they leave a much softer texture. They are less graphic in nature than plastisol inks, and exact colours are difficult to control, but especially good for distressed and vintage prints. 

Foil
is what you would imagine. A glue is printed onto the fabric and then foil is applied for a mirror finish. 

Glitter/Shimmer
silver flakes are suspended in a plastisol ink to create this sparkle effect. Usually available in gold or silver but can be mixed to make most colours. 

Metallic
similar to glitter, but smaller particles suspended in the ink. A glue is printed onto the fabric then a nanoscale fibers applied on it.
Expanding ink (puff)
an additive to plastisol inks which raises the print off the garment, creating a 3D feel. 

Caviar beads
again a glue is printed in the shape of the design, to which small plastic beads are then applied – works well with solid block areas creating an interesting tactile surface. 

Four colour process
artwork is created using dots (CMYK) which combine to create the full spectrum of colours needed for photographic prints – this means a large number of colours can be printed using only 4 screens, making the set-up costs viable. The inks are required to blend and are more translucent, meaning a compromise with vibrancy of colour. 

Gloss
a clear base laid over plastisol inks to create a shiny finish. 

Nylobond
a special ink additive for printing onto technical or waterproof fabrics.
Mirrored silver
Another solvent based ink but you can almost see your face in it. 

Suede Ink
Suede is another great ink that is easy to print and gives the image a textured leather, simulated suede look and feel. Suede is a milky colored additive (much like a plastisol base) that will work in a regular plastisol. It is actually a puff blowing agent that does not bubble as much as regular puff ink. With suede additive you can make any color of plastisol have a suede feel. The directions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally you can add up to 50% suede additive to your normal plastisol.

Versatility
Screenprinting is more versatile than traditional printing techniques. The surface does not have to be printed under pressure, unlike etching or lithography, and it does not have to be planar. Screenprinting inks can be used to work with a variety of materials, such as textiles, ceramics, wood, paper, glass, metal, and plastic. As a result, screen printing is used in many different industries, from clothing to product labels to circuit board printing.