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Screen Printing Tips and Tricks

Screen Printing Tips and Tricks

Screen printing, also called silk screening, is a printing technique that’s been in use for centuries. In earlier times, it was used primarily as a way to transfer designs onto various kinds of cloth. Today, though we still use it on fabric products like t-shirts and can coolers, we also can use screen printing to apply designs onto plastic pens, water bottles, and stress balls.
But why would any company, especially one as obviously sophisticated (and modest) as Quality Logo Products, use a process that some might consider old-fashioned? It turns out that screen printing not only is often one of the most inexpensive ways to customize a garment or other product; it’s also a great way to produce an imprint that pops!

How It’s Done
It all starts with your custom design. A negative of your design—a version that has the open areas of your original design filled in, and the filled-in areas left open—gets printed onto a screen. Traditionally, the screen was made from silk (hence the name “silk screening”), but today, industry-friendly materials that don’t require the sacrifice of hundreds of silkworms, like polyester and nylon, are more often used for the screens instead.
With your design’s inverse in place, the screen then is laid on top of the item being customized, and ink is spread across it. The ink seeps through only the parts of the screen left open, so your design comes out just as you imagined it. If you chose a second color for your imprint, the process will be repeated with a new screen as soon as the first batch of ink dries.
This is why we say that imprints seem to “pop” when screen printing is used: not because we’re hell-bent on using language that captivates and demonstrates as all the writing guides suggest, but because the ink sits on top of the fabric or plastic instead of soaking into it. It really does stand out!

How Cost is Determined
As we mentioned before, screen printing is often the most affordable and budget-friendly imprint options. When our calculator monkeys sit down to figure out how much your custom imprint will cost you, they consider a number of factors:

  • The number of imprint colors per location
  • The number of imprint locations (on the front of the item, on the back, etc.)
  • The number of items that you need to order (tip: when it comes to shirts, your BIGGEST price break occurs at 144 Pieces, but in most cases, you can order as few as 24)
  • The color of the garment in the case of t-shirts (tip: though screen printing looks great on all colors, white items are the LEAST expensive, and black items are the MOST expensive)
  • The size of the shirt or other garment (tip: S – XL garments are ALL the same price, but XXL, XXXL, and XXXXL items carry an additional charge)

Let’s talk about this a bit more, shall we? If your design requires only one color, and you want it printed in only one location, you’ll be charged a single set-up charge. Simple! Of course, as in any case, the more you add, the higher the costs go.
Each one color/one location combination you choose to customize on your apparel requires an additional set-up and print through.  If you decide to have a second color in that same location (or any color in a regular location), you will incur a second set-up charge for the new screen. 
Whew! And if that wasn’t enough, there are additional services that, although worthwhile, will also add to screen printing costs, so keep these in mind:

  • Matching exact ink colors requires custom mixing to achieve PMS color.
  • Imprinting on specialized locations beyond just the front or back of a shirt—we’re talking sleeves, pockets, and pant legs here—requires an additional running charge.
  • A flash charge applies to light inks being applied to dark material to ensure a vivid final product (which is why we said that thing above about darker items being more expensive).

So what can you do to take advantage of screen printing’s low-cost nature and keep your order really affordable? Ordering in bulk helps. Screen printing presents a “The more you buy, the more you save!” scenario. Because a set-up fee is the same no matter how many custom shirts you’re ordering, the more you print using the same screen, the lower the unit cost is for the entire order. 
If you’re near a price break or ordering shirts that can be stored for future promotions, consider a large order to save money in the long run. And to keep us in business, if it turns out you really like us.

Everything Else You Need to Know
It wouldn’t be a “tips and tricks” page if we didn’t bombard you with helpful tips to keep in mind. Here’s all the other important stuff we think you should remember to get the most out of your screen-printed order:

  • Screen printing works best with logos that contain only one or two colors. More than that, and the logo might start to look a bit muddy (and the costs will spike, too—boo!).
  • Screen printing also works better with designs that don’t have to be photorealistic. For that kind of precision, digital printing may be the better way to go if that option is available for your product of choice.
  • Drop shadows, shading, and blending from light to dark are possible but should be avoided, as those sections of your design will end up looking like a series of dots. (However, this does not apply to single-color halftone gradients.) Unless you’re going for the 1940’s comic strip look, you should probably stick to solid colors.
  • It’s more expensive to add multiple locations for an imprint than it is to add multiple colors, so choose the location for your logo wisely!

safe zones for screen printing

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Quality Logo Products, Inc. is your number one source for stress balls and promotional items.

Quality Logo Products, Inc. · 724 North Highland Avenue · Aurora, Illinois 60506
For assistance, email us at or call 866-312-5646 · Monday - Saturday.

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