Screen Printed Transfers are still widely used for many reasons. While they are time consuming, tedious, and messy, they have their advantages. Silkscreens are fantastic for fine details, and there are some colors that only silkscreens can pick up.
The Silkscreen Process
Silkscreen involves using an Exacto knife to cut a pattern from a stencil. You must be very careful not to make a wrong cut. If you make a mistake, then you will have to start over because the design or logo will not look right if the pattern is not cut precisely. This takes a steady hand. Once you have your stencil, it is placed on a screen. The screen is made of fabric placed in a wooden or metal brace, then stretched. The placement of the stencil needs to be exact, or the design will not look right. It is then taped to the screen. Paint is then applied. The image has to have time to set to the screen. The stencil is then removed, and the screen is rinsed revealing the image. The t-shirt is placed between the screen and another bracing screen or surface, and the paint is applied by hand, then set aside to dry.
Several screens may need to be used with screen printed transfers. There is only one screen per color. So the more colors, the more screens are needed. Screen printed transfers are also time consuming during the process itself and during clean up, as both are messy propositions. Startup costs for this kind of process can range anywhere from $2,000 and up depending on what kind of deals you can find on equipment.
The Benefits of Screen Printed Transfers
There are some benefits to screen printed transfers that you just cannot get with heat transfers. Screen printed transfers allow for much finer details than heat transfers. This is helpful when you have a great deal of intricacies in your design. There is an art involved in the silkscreen process that is not required with the heat transfers because you have the computer doing most of the work for you. This allows for true artistic expression and as much detail as you desire. Another benefit to screen printed transfers is that you can use any color you want in a design, including white. Heat transfers are unable to pick up white, so it is good to have alternatives. Because of the amount of preparation and clean up involved with creating a single screen, this is definitely a good option for large jobs. Small tasks are discouraged because the process is so labor intensive. For smaller piece work, heat transfers are definitely a better choice.
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