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Screen Printing - The Large Scale Branding Choice of the Promotional Products Industry


Using Screen Printing to Custom Brand Promotional Products

Screen printing technology has been around for many years and is one of the most effective and time tested methods of applying printing to a fabric surface or a large image area. One of the many advantages of screen print branding is that it can apply a great deal of ink over a large surface and still only take a short time for every impression. Speed and accuracy are paramount in promotional branding as if the wrong colour is applied or the image is unduly distorted it can lead to a costly failure with the product receiving the print having to be discarded. When the print being applied is only a  a small fraction of the cost of the item itself it is essential that accuracy and reliability are part of the process and it for these reasons that screen print branding has stood the test of time.


How Does Screen Printing Work?

The screens used in this form of promotional branding are traditionally made of a finely woven silk, hence the term "silk screen printing" is often used. The fine mesh of the silk screen allows ink to move through with the air of a rubber squeegy, however it only moves through the silk substrate in positions where there is not a wax layer. An important part of the screen printing process is the production of the screen itself which holds the image in negative while the majority of the screen is blocked from ink penetration. As the squeegy passes overt the screen it pushes the ink through those areas which are not blocked by the wax and hence the image is applied to the item beneath the screen. This system, unlike pad printing, works only where there is a large flat surface to work with as the tightly pulled silk is unable to mould itself to variations in the surface of the product being branded.


What Sort of Printing Is Possible Using Screen Printing Technology?

Traditionally items of clothing like T shirts have been the most commonly printed items using this branding system however any item which has a relatively flat surface can be successfully screen printed. While T shirts are an idea product on which to apply screen printed branding other products like bags and even metallic items are easily printed particularly if they have a large an easily accessed image area. The single greatest advantage of using the screen process is the large image areas which can be branded quickly and cost effectively. With one pass of the rubber squeegy the ink is applied through teh screen and the promotional item can then be passed down the production line and dried in a UV proofing kiln or left to dry at room temperature so the image is not smudged or distorted through premature handling.


How the Screen Printing Process Works

As described above the critical element of successful screen printing is the production of the screen which holds a reversed wax image of the artwork to be applied. A large variety of different inks can be used in this process depending on the material from which the product being branded is made, the likely usage of the final product and the speed at which the production line needs to run. For instance many clothing items are printed with a flexible rubberised ink which allows the clothing to stretch and distort without cracking or breaking the printed image. If you're unsure what the best way to approach your screen print branding might be have a look on the product page of the Promo10 website where each product listed has a recommended branding technique. Screen are also reused with the wax image removed using a pressure gun after the print run has been completed so this process is both efficient and environmentally friendly as only the minimum amount of ink is applied and there are no plates or wasted preproduction elements as is the case with offset printing plates.

For multiple colours multiple screen need to be produced and the individual colours are laid down on the branded product one after the other so the image is built up sequentially. This can limit the detail and colours reproduced in artwork as partial colours and gradients of an image are unable to be reproduced exactly. A good screen printer, such as those professionals used by Promo10 is able to overcome some of the limits of the technology and apply their expertise to making sure your image looks the best within the limits in place.


Products Which are Traditionally branded with Screen Printing

Clothing and large scale items are best suited to screen printing through also where high accuracy and fine detail is required a fine silk screen will produce a better final result than pad printing. Items like promotional flash drives which are small yet require complex multicolour branding so a small silk screen print system is the preferred option. Anything from tote bags, sports bags, jackets, coats, polo shirts and phone covers is traditionally screen printed however gift boxes and any other product with a flat surface is also a likely candidate for this traditional system of promotional product branding.

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