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Screen Printing FAQ

At Futile Mfg, we specialize in screen printing, one of the most versatile printing methods in use today. Learn more about screen printing with this FAQ.

What is screen printing?

Screen printing, also called serigraphy or serigraph printing, utilizes a mesh screen to transfer ink onto a substrate, which is the surface to be printed on. The screen is composed of a frame, which can be made of wood, aluminum, or other materials, and a mesh, typically made of polyester, with nylon and stainless steel also available for special use. Screen printing was invented by the Chinese during the Song Dynasty period, who used strands of silk for the mesh, giving rise to its original name: silkscreen printing.

A stencil is prepared with the desired design, then the screen and stencil are laid on top of the substrate. A blade or squeegee is used to move the ink back and forth across the screen, which instantly transfers the design to the substrate.

What can screen printing be used on?

Almost anything. As long as ink can stay on a material without washing, flaking, or chipping away, that material can be used for screen printing. Common choices include textiles, wood, paper, glass, ceramics, plastics, and metal. This means that screen printing can be used on everything from T-shirts to posters to surfboards. It’s even used in some industrial processes to print conductors and resistors in circuit boards.

What types of designs can you print with screen printing?

Almost any design you can think of can be screen printed: logos, text, drawings, etc. One thing to keep in mind is that screen printing only lays down one color with each pass. For multiple colors, a new screen has to be prepared, then laid down on top of the first pass. Though any color can be used, each additional color will make the process more complex and time-consuming.