Many fabric printing methods are derived from technologies that were originally designed for use on other materials. This results in the application of inks to the surface of a shirt or piece of clothing where it can be easily peeled away or affected by weather.
Screen printing uses pressure from a squeegee or other mechanical device to force the ink into the fibers where it is absorbed and integrated into the fabric. This creates printed products that have very durable graphics. The graphics will not wash away or respond to physical contact. Items printed in this way will last for years.
One of the advantages of printing with screens is that a single image can be scaled upwards or downwards as needed. This means that a business logo or other graphic can be scaled to cover the entire front of a shirt or just a small area over a pocket.
Photosensitive masks make it possible to generate these types of screens quickly. This is not always possible with some other applications that require separate graphic files in order to change image sizes. This saves businesses money and time creating multiple designs for different formats.
Screen printing is a method that can accommodate a wide range of different materials. This means printers can produce tshirts, promotional banners, hats and even posters all from the same screens.
Additionally, the quality of each product will remain consistent despite the underlying ground. This gives businesses the opportunity to produce a range of branded products for customers, storefronts or the office.
A disadvantage of the printing process is that the ink must be pushed through the screens. This means that it is difficult to mix colors in an accurate and painterly way in order to simulate smooth gradients and other effects. This is why most items printed in this way are made from a combination of different color zones with no intermediary mixing.
Screen printing is a process that requires fewer initial steps than most other techniques. The printing, however, is a multistep process that involves placing different screens over a shirt in perfect alignment in order to create the final graphic.
Small problems during the printing of any single screen could create an issue that offsets or distorts the completed image.
The limitations of screens as well as the techniques used to apply the ink to the fabric make it difficult to create small intricate details.
The exact limitations vary depending on the printer and the equipment. Attempting to print designs with small details can sometimes result in technical problems, bleeding and poor quality results. New techniques and screen materials are slowly removing this restriction.