Updated: Feb 17
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What is Silk-screen Printing?
- How is Silk-screen Printing Done?
- Examples of T-shirts with Silk-screen
Pros and Cons of Silk-screen Printing
- Cost effectiveness
- Lead time
- Print Feel
6 Different Types of Silk-screen Printing
- Spot Color Printing
- Half-tone Printing
- Gray-scale Printing
- Duo-tone Printing
- CMYK Printing
- Simulated Process Printing
What is Silk-screen Printing?
Silk screen printing is a printing method where ink is printed directly onto the T-Shirts or apparel.
The designs printed via silkscreen printing are durable and very long-lasting. They can withstand thousands of washes, allowing apparel that is customized with silkscreen printing to last for many years.
It is the most popular method of T-Shirt printing and custom gift printing in our business operations.
How is Silk-screen Printing done?
The first step in the Silk screen printing process involves the creation of a ‘screen’. This is done by using UV light to transfer the desired design onto a woven mesh board, with the other parts of the board blocked by an ink blocking stencil.
Ink is poured onto the screen and a rubber blade is used to force the ink past the threads of the mesh board, imprinting your design onto the apparel material (known as the substrate).
In screen printing each color has to be applied using a different screen, one color at a time. Therefore multiple screens are needed for multi-colored designs, which explains the different costs in t-shirt printing when it comes to silk-screen printing.
T-shirt Printing in Singapore:
Examples of Butter Prints' Silk-screen Printed T-shirts
From L to R: 6 Colors Silk-screen Printing on iMOB SMRT t-shirts, 1 Color Silk-screen Print on Innova Junior College Hockey Drifit Tshirts, 2 Colors Silk-screen Print on custom Dance tees.
Are You looking for Silkscreen Printer in Singapore?
If so, look no further! We specialize in silkscreen printing services in Singapore as well as custom T-Shirt printing & apparel production.
Below we provide answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) you may have about Silk screen printing of T-Shirts & Corporate Gifts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On Silk Screen Printing in Singapore
Which Products Can You Choose to Silk screen?
Screen silk printing is suitable for most types of products that we carry such as T-Shirts, Polo Tees and Hoodies. Corporate Gifts such as Pens can be silk-screened as well.
Typically the apparel we use for silk screen printing is made from Cotton or Dri-Fit Polyester material.
That said, if you have products that are made from other materials, do check with our friendly sales team to find out if they are feasible for Silkscreen printing!
What is the Lead Time for Screen Printing of T-Shirts?
At Butter Prints, our lead-time for ink screen printing services is between 7-10 working days from the time your order is processed.
This timeline allows us to fulfil your order relatively quickly, while giving our experts enough time to produce the best quality screenprint for your unique custom silk screen shirts (for eg. Class T-shirts, Camps Tees, Events Shirts, Corporate Uniforms and more!)
If you require express T-Shirt printing Singapore, do get in touch with us so we can help make your conceptual designs a reality!
The Pros and Cons of Silkscreen Printing
For many centuries Silkscreen Printing has been a staple in the apparel printing world, and is arguably the most popular method of T-shirt printing around today.
However, as with anything, it does have its pros and cons. In this article we dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages Silkscreen printing has and make some comparisons to other printing methods.
Advantages of Silkscreen Printing
Cheap for large quantity printing.
Cost effective when fewer ink colors are needed (i.e. 1 or 2 colours).
Designs can be very detailed (e.g. small text, fine lines).
Silkscreen printing is highly versatile, suitable for use on many different materials (cotton, dri-fit polyester, metal, wood, plastic, glass).
Silkscreen Prints are highly durable.
Silkscreen screens can be kept and reused, reducing lead times for repeat orders.
Silkscreen prints are light and thin, resulting in garments having a soft-hand feel.
Disadvantages of Silkscreen Printing
Not cost effective for smaller quantities.
Not cost effective when design has many colors (i.e. 3 colours or more).
Only cost effective if design graphics are identical across each piece.
Silkscreen can be troublesome to execute as it requires specialized knowledge and materials.
If not maintained properly, lint may start adhering to the ink over time. (How to take proper care of silkscreen printed apparel).
For first time orders lead time can be relatively long as specific screens must be made for each ink color.
If silkscreen print quality is low, bad issues may arise (e.g. fabric color discoloring the print) - Find out how to identify a good quality print.
Table of Contents:
1. Cost Effectiveness
Number of Colors
5. Lead time
6. Print Feel
Silkscreen Cost Effective For Large quantities, Designs with Few Colors
Silkscreen printers often say that silkscreen is only suitable for larger quantity orders, and consequently their Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) are set relatively high.
This is because silkscreen printing requires woven mesh boards made for each ink color in the design. In addition, specialty inks are needed for printing, depending on the substrate material.
Take for example a design that has 3 print colors (let’s say white, red and yellow); the printer will create 3 mesh boards, 1 for EACH of the white, red and yellow inks. They will then need to use a suitable ink that adheres well to the substrate (say a 100% Cotton T-shirt).
Clearly, the more ink colors there are in a design, the more boards and colored inks you need, and therefore the higher the cost.
All this gives silkscreen printing a high initial set up cost, which has to be priced into the apparel. With a higher quantity the set up cost is spread across more pieces, therefore driving down the price. On the flipside, with a low quantity, price per piece becomes costly.
At Butter Prints, we typically recommend silkscreen printing for orders with at least 20 pieces and designs with only 1 or 2 colors.
TLDR: Silkscreen Printing is cheap for large quantity orders, but relatively costly for low quantity orders. Silkscreen Printing is cheap for designs with 1-2 colors, but costly for designs with more than 3 colors.
Designs Detailed With Good Resolution But Must Be Identical
Silkscreen prints are suitable for very detailed designs, and can print these to a good resolution. It is able to feature fine lines and very small text clearly and precisely. Moreover, Silkscreen ink colors are vibrant, further enhancing the final look of the design.
In contrast, certain other print methods such as vinyl printing cannot be used effectively for fine detailing.
However for silkscreen printing to be cost effective, every piece in the order has to have an identical design. It would be prohibitively expensive to create new mesh boards for every piece with a unique design.
So for instance if the order requires individual names and numbers on each piece, silkscreen would not be economical. Choosing vinyl heat transfer would be the better option.
TLDR: Silkscreen is suitable for detailed designs, with good resolution and vibrant colors. Only cost effective if designs are the same on each piece.
Silkscreen Versatile But Troublesome To Do
Another advantage of Silkscreen printing is its versatility. Silkscreen can be used for printing on a wide variety of substrates.
Examples include Cotton, Dri-fit microfiber Polyester, metal, plastics, wood, glass and ceramics. As you can see it is a printing method that can suit most needs.
That said, it is best to leave silkscreen printing to the experts. The printing process can be troublesome, requiring specialty materials such as light sensitive emulsions, suitable inks, ink additives and small weave synthetic fabrics. Making sure the design is printed exactly as specified can also be challenging for those not familiar with the process.
TLDR: Silkscreen can be used on many different materials, but requires specialized knowledge to execute effectively.
Silkscreen Prints Very Durable
As mentioned in the earlier sections, silkscreen printers make use of specialty inks formulated based on the particular substrate they are printing on. These inks are made to bond directly with the substrate material, ensuring extremely tight adhesion.
Moreover, additives and coatings can be added to the ink to make it resistant to UV rays, scratches, chemicals and moisture.
As a result the silkscreen prints are very durable, able to last for thousands of washes without cracking or fading.
However, proper care needs to be taken in maintaining the garment or lint may adhere to the print over time, making the print appear discolored or ‘murky’. Thankfully maintaining the apparel is very simple.
TLDR: Silkscreen prints are highly durable, but care needs to be taken to minimize lint adhesion.
Silkscreen Lead Times Relatively Long, but Shorter for Repeat Orders
While some printing methods can be done in the matter of hours, Silkscreen printing typically requires at least 1 - 2 weeks to complete. This is because time is needed to create the mesh boards for each ink color.
Hence, silkscreen printers usually require at least 7 working days (or more, depending on the size of the order) to fulfill their orders.
For repeat orders timelines could be shortened, provided the boards are kept and reused. As the board does not need to be re-created, order timelines can then be reduced by a couple of days.
TLDR: First-time orders have a longer lead time, while repeat orders can have reduced lead times.
Silkscreen Prints Light And Thin, With A Soft Hand Feel
As silkscreen printing is done using layers of ink, the prints are usually thinner and lighter than vinyl prints (which use heat resistant vinyl paper). This also means the garments tend to have a softer hand feel if done using the right ink and techniques.
However, if the silkscreen printing is not done properly unwanted issues with the print may arise, such as dark fabric colors affecting light colored prints or cracking of the prints after a few washes.
Find out how to identify good quality silkscreen print here.
TLDR: Silkscreen Prints light and thin with soft hand feel, but bad printing techniques will ruin the print.
Before You Go…
There you have it! A comprehensive explanation of the good and bad aspects of the Silkscreen Printing method.
Don’t forget, if you are looking for a quality T-shirt Printer in Singapore to partner with for your printing needs, do reach out to Butter Prints here for advice and a quick quotation!
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