In order to screen print an item the design has to be separated into the component colours on software such as Adobe Illustrator. Every colour requires a separate screen consisting of a very fine mesh surface which is produced using light reactive chemicals. Where the chemicals have been exposed to light, they breakdown and are washed off leaving spaces in the mesh. The ink can then be screen printed onto the garment direct or onto transfer paper which is later applied to garment by a heat press. If the direct printing method is used, the garment is placed on a solid board (platen). The colours are then applied individually by placing the screen manually or automatically on top of the garment and forcing the printers ink through the relevant screen stencil.
Screen printing allows large and complex designs to have a really high quality finish. As the ink is absorbed into the garment, the finished design is smooth and glossy.
Full pantone matching is available when screen printing.
This process is perfect for big orders with up to 6 colours as we can print large amounts very quickly using ink rather than vinyl.
Contemporary embroidery is stitched with a computerised embroidery machine using patterns digitised with embroidery software. In machine embroidery, different types of “fills” add texture and design to the finished work. Machine embroidery is used to add logos and monograms to business shirts or jackets, gifts, and team apparel as well as to decorate household linens, draperies, and decorator fabrics that mimic the elaborate hand embroidery of the past.
Heat transfer vinyl comes in single colours and leaves the finished design with a glossy finish, as the vinyl material is cut and printed. It is best used for simple designs with minimal colours since each individual colour or pattern used in the design must be cut, weeded, and heat pressed.
The design to be printed needs to have an outline added, which is achieved using specialised design software. The digitised design is then ready to be cut and used. It is put through a Versacamm machine which electronically cuts and prints multi-coloured design onto a sheet of white vinyl. The design is then cut out on the same machine which produces a higher quality cut line as it does not need to be aligned up. Once the machine is finished printing and cutting someone then has to manually transfer the design onto a sticky back transfer material and remove all the parts that have been cut which are not required in the design, this process is called weeding. Next, the design is heat pressed in the correct position on to the garment. The garment must be cooled and then the application tape is taken off.
Versacamm printing is fantastic for low quantities of multi-colour designs as it produces high quality, vibrant designs that effectively sit on top of the garment, and so no brightness in the colour of the design is lost. For this reason it is especially suited to producing photographic images or colour gradations.