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Promotional Merchandise for Stand Out Brands

Screen Printing

Screen Printing at Outstanding Branding

Here at Outstanding Branding, we have a dedicated team of design & print experts, specialising in Screen Printing for promotional products & merchandise. It’s an incredibly versatile technique which has been one of the most trusted and frequently used forms of printing across industries for decades.

Screen printing is commonly used for printing onto clothing such as t-shirts, but it’s also a very effective method for transferring high quality and high resolution designs onto a range of other materials including paper, metal, and plastic. It’s a technique that’s typically used on branded notebooks, folders, mugs, pens, or even mobile phone cases.

Examples of some of our previous work are highlighted in our Case Studies & Products sections, with a wide range of design features used for a variety of specific industries. Take a look and let us know if you’d like more information; a member of our expert staff will be more than happy to help.

screen printing at outstanding branding

What is Screen Printing?

Screen Printing is an age-old method of transferring designs onto products using a thick layer of ink to produce bold and vibrant results. It’s the slowest, most labour intensive method of printing, but one that is still preferred by many manufacturers and companies such as ourselves, as the finished products are second to none.

Screen Printing is the optimal method for designs containing minimal different colours, as the thick ink used really helps these colours to stand out and ensure your branding is at the forefront of the product.

When ordering in bulk, screen printing is a more cost-effective method, though final products do come with a slightly longer lead time when produced this way.

The Screen Printing Process

There are a variety of screen printing methods but the fundamental technique will always remain the same, so we’ll take you through the most common form of commercial screen printing.

  1. A design is needed for any screen printing to take place, so step one involves the creation of the design. The design is then transferred onto a transparent acetate film to begin the creation of the stencil.

  2. A mesh screen is then prepared and coated with a layer of emulsion.

  3. The acetate film is laid onto the emulsion-coated screen, and this combination is exposed to a bright light. This light solidifies the emulsion.

  4. The excess emulsion is washed off, isolating the hardened emulsion which can act as the stencil, or screen, for future prints.

  5. The screen is placed on to the printing press and the garment is laid onto the printing board. The ink is then pressed through the screen and onto the item.

The History of Screen Printing

Screen printing has evolved from an ancient labour of love to a sleek mechanised process but the concept has always remained the same: transferring stencilled designs on to material of choice.

To follow the evolution of screen printing we can create a timeline of developments that spans almost two millenniums.

Woodblock Printing in China, AD 220

The concept of printing with stencils can be dated back to China, AD 220 at the time of the Han dynasty.

As you would expect, reading materials are limited from this period in human history but we can accurately date China’s earliest woodblock printed fragments to this rough date: the silk fragments depict flowers in the three colours of the Han dynasty.

chinese block printing

Woodblock Printing across Asia, AD 960

Centuries before Europe would catch up, the process of woodblock printing was developing rapidly across Asia as a means of printing books in early China and Korea. This was particularly important for Buddhists who welcomed the use of screen printing to depict their sutras.

The Japaense were beginning to use simple stenciling techniques as a way of building layers of vivid imagery, and their meshes were often woven from human hair!

Woodblock Printing arrives in Europe, AD 1300

After centuries of development across Euriasia, by the early 1300s screen printing had arrived and was common in Europe which coincides roughly with the time that paper became widely available across the continent.

Printing through woodcut was “an important cultural tradition for popular religious works.”

Screen Printing arrives in Europe, AD 1750

Screen printing arrived in Western Europe sometime in the second half of the 17th century, however, it took some time for the Europeans to accept the process as trade routes from the East were still limited.

This meant that merchants found it difficult to establish a viable supply line of silk mesh. It wasn’t until this became easier, that screen printing really took off in Europe.

Western Screen Printing, AD 1900-1950

In the early 20th century printers such as Roy Beck and Edward Owens were experimenting with photo-reactive chemicals and, through their efforts, really pioneered what we now recognise as the commercial screen printing industry by introducing photo-image stills. They named this serigraphy.

Western Screen Printing, AD 1950 and onwards

The explosion of pop art in the 60’s brought about the acceptance of screen printing as a contemporary art process. Artists such as Peter Blake and, of course, Andy Warhol, frequently used the process to create their pieces.

Screen Printing vs. DTG Printing vs. Heat Transfer

Anyone who has done any research around printing their own t-shirts or stationery will, surely, have come across these terms: screen printing, DTG printing and heat transfer.

Let’s take you through the definitions of each, as detailed in our branded merchandise glossary.

Screen printing: One of our branding methods, which allows us to transfer high quality, high resolution imagery to materials including metal, plastic and paper.

DTG printing: DTG (direct to garment) printing applies specialised ink jet technology direct to the clothing item, similar to the process of printing of paper. Aqueous (water based) inks are used as there are absorbed better by the fibers of the garment.

Heat Transfer Printing: Heat transfer printing is a modern printing method not too dissimilar from digital transfer printing, whereby a design is printed onto transfer paper and then thermally transferred onto the material of your choice.

You can see there are big differences between this printing methods, and your choice will largely depend on the project you are undertaking.

Screen printing is a cost effective method if you’re looking to print a simple graphic design in one solid colour, and can be utilised on a wide variety of products. DTG, on the other hand, will yield you better results if you have a complex design on promotional clothing.

Before choosing, be sure to consider:

  • Your order quantity. How many of the product are you looking to print? Screen printing projects often have a minimum order quantity while DTG can be done for smaller numbers.

  • Your design complexity. If there are layers of colour to your logo then screen printing may not be enough to satisfy your project requirements.

  • Your budget. How much can you afford to spend on the printing process?

Our team at Outstanding Branding are experts in this field and will be able to guide you in the right direction of the products and processes that suit your order.


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