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Home> Articles & Tips

Articles & Tips

No matter how expert you are when it comes to screen printing, there’s always more to learn. Click on one of the many links below to expand your knowledge of T-shirt screen printing, computer-to-screen (CTS) imaging & exposure systems, direct-to-screen digital printing, and much, much more.
Topics

Equipment Maintenance

 
 
Maintenance Tip: Implement a Maintenance Schedule—and Stick to It! by Rich Hoffman
The first step in successful preventative maintenance is scheduling and tracking.
 
The Importance of Chilling Out by Rich Hoffman
How air chillers can save your equipment, your profits, and your sanity.

Exposure Systems

 
 
Exposure Systems: Finding the Right Cure by Ron Hopkins
One of the most overlooked tools in a screen print shop is also one of the most important. After all, the exposure unit is where the coated screen and the image come together. Any detail that is lost there will be lost from the final product.

General Textile Screen Printing

 
 
In the Digital Era: A Look Into Direct-to-Screen Systems by Lon Winters NEW!!
Have you ever considered where we’d be without smart phones, tablets, personal computers or the Internet? In this digital age, we often take the technology that changes our lives and our businesses for granted. But what does “digital” mean to us as screen printers?
 
Sustainable Strides Toward a Smaller Business Footprint by Mark Coudray NEW!!
Becoming a sustainable business is not a single step or a decision to become “green.” Rather sustainability is a continuous process that requires a broad view of your business from multiple perspectives.
 
Determine Print Order by Lon Winters NEW!!
The Printing Industry Exchange defines color sequence, also called print order or rotation, as the order in which inks are printed. This multi-color print sequence seems simple enough, but how it is determined is a little more complicated.
 
Dissecting the Plant at Bamboo U NEW!!
Bamboo is a plant of all trades, it can be eaten, used for building sturdy structures and furniture, beaten to a pulp for paper and even woven into an incredibly soft wearable fiber. In recent years, we have seen...
 
Engineering a Soft Print by Lon Winters NEW!!
As you may know, we work with a number of western wear companies and brands, which is probably not all that unusual seeing as though we are located here in the Colorado West. One such brand is Stetson. You might recognize the label from cowboy hats, boots and woven garments, among other items, especially if you are a cowboy or country boy (like me).
 
Performance with a Purpose NEW!!
In a recent meeting with one of our larger and long-time clients that manufactures several branded clothing lines that we participate in creating, we discussed topics including future line development, pricing, production schedules and the project we will share with you here. Our customer interrupted the business-as-usual conversation by paging one of his salespeople who then joined us in the conference room. Our new friend, we learned, tragically lost his young daughter, Amanda and recently had set up a fundraiser/charity event and fun run in her name called Miles of Smiles. Our client had designed a cute image to be printed on the front and back of performance running shirts. If the cause wasn’t reason enough to get in on this project, thinking of our own daughters sealed the deal.
 
Reconstructing Multi-Color Art by Lon Winters NEW!!
One of our long-time clients is a very well-respected brand in the biking biz, as it were. We have been working with Primal Wear for well over a decade. They were the original folks with wild full-color graphics on polyester bike jerseys. While, so far, we have yet to dabble in the full garment sublimation game, these guys pretty much set the bar for this category years ago. Our position in the relationship has been to translate that wonderful art to T-shirts in a way that keeps the original’s integrity yet is printable and cost-effective.
 
Fabric, Frames, and Stretchers by Geoff Baxter
The screen frame is one of the most critical links in screen printing. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked. Many problems attributed to...
 
Get Control of Your Screen Making Process: Implementing Standard Operating Procedures by Dave Dennings
Offset printers and inkjet printers alike are challenging screen printers for market share. In order to remain competitive in screen printing today, printers are taking their quality control program to the next level.
 
Investment Considerations for Automatic Textile Presses by Geoff Baxter
You've had a great year, and you've invested in a new manual press, dryer, and exposure system, but there's still money left in the bank. Your accountant says you've either got to invest it or give it to Uncle Sam. You've spent a lot of time at tradeshows coveting those...
 
Layout Logic - Layout Options for Multi-Disciplinary Shops
Layout options for multi-disciplinary shops
 
Screen Preparation for Pinhole Prevention by Dave Dennings
Screen printers the world over battle with the ubiquitous pinhole. For many years the pinhole has been responsible for increasing screen processing times and reducing the efficiency and profitability of the printing process. When screen printers estimate the price to...
 
Screen-Making Department Layout by Lon Winters
Screens are the foundation upon which every screen-printed garment is built. Nothing you haven't heard before, right?
 
The Rz Value: A New Concept in Screen-Quality Evaluation by Wolfgang Pfirrmann, KIWO Inc.
Evaluating the quality of a direct-emulsion stencil before it is on press is a difficult task. Pinholes and edge defects might be uncovered with illumination and magnification, but overall stencil quality and flatness are...
 
Understanding the Emulsion Curing Process & Determining Exposure Distance by Dave Dennings
Screen printers often overlook the importance of maintaining a controlled screen making process. This report will focus on the importance of understanding the emulsion curing process and the impact it has on workflow efficiency and company profits. In addition, it will...

Screens

 
 
Screen-Making Practicum NEW!!
The tension of screen mesh is initially tensioned to a level that depends on factors such as mesh count. A 110 mesh with an 80 ...
 
Self-Tensioning Frames by Geoff Baxter
In most screen printing operations, mesh is stretched to a specific tension and then glued or stapled to static frames. Self-tensioning frames, on the other hand, have built-in tensioning mechanisms. Not only can the mesh be stretched...

Stencils

 
 
Maximizing Stencil Life by Mark Coudray
A key ingredient in print productivity is the life of the stencil. With automatic presses now configured to eighteen colors or more, the chances of the press going down because of screen failure are quite high.
 
Sawtoothing, Pin Holes & Breakdown - A Practical Guide to Prevention by Geoff Baxter
It never ceases to amaze me that the most neglected item in nearly all screen printing facilities is the screen itself. Many of us have come to accept poor screens as...
 
Using an Exposure Calculator: Determining the Degree of Resistance by Laura Unterbrink, KIWO Inc.
An exposure test conducted with an exposure calculator helps to find the optimal production exposure time for stencil making. An exposure calculator combines 2 films - a neutral density film and an artwork film. When exposed to a stencil...

Textile Printing Techniques

 
 
All Over It by Lon Winters NEW!!
As ya’all know, we love to write about a few of our favorite things. Aside from wine, women and song (a.k.a. liquor, ladies and rock ‘n’ roll), we also share our passion for a little horse power here and there as well. Those passions are shared with another we write about occasionally to keep everything in proper perspective and balance our lives.
 
Fun with Foil--Commemorating Time Off by Lon Winters NEW!!
Busy, busy, busy. What with running production, exhibiting and teaching at The NBM Shows, writing for Printwear magazine and the travel associated with the consulting arm of our business, you might think there is just no time for relaxation. Not so fast, friends. As the saying goes; all work and no play….
 
Layered Ink Effect--Dimensional Print Project by Lon Winters NEW!!
As you may or may not know, we are an alpha and beta test site for many manufacturers in the industry and try to stay sharp by experimenting with any combination we can think of. We generally incorporate many products into our own research and development on a regular basis. One, a new (at the time) base that was supposed to be very hard and have a rock-like texture, eventually found its way onto a number of young men’s preprint lines we were working on.
 
Printing Distress: What’s Old is New Again... Again by Lon Winters NEW!!
What better describes the reinvention of an old graphic than distressing? Customers have continued to love the look over the years. But we couldn’t do the same ol’, same ol’. It had to be a bit different to be special.
 
All About the Chrome! by Lon Winters NEW!!
If there is anything better than beers and gears, it might be liquor and chrome. We are, as you know, experts and quite experienced at most anything of this nature. After all, we are screen printers. It seems as though we developed a theme over the years, for better or worse. We have a client, who, to us, is a pretty big customer. In fact, one of our largest. These guys happen to hold several substantial western brands. That said, as you might expect, there are a number of shirts being printed for these brands, and we get to print plenty of them.
 
Back to Basics by Lon Winters NEW!!
Some years back, we helped an old friend at Athey Graphics set up an operation in a cute little resort town on a lake in Oklahoma. The area is called Monkey Island and sits on the shores of Grand Lake. (Now that's just fun to say‚ Monkey Island.)
 
Four-Color Process Printing NEW!!
With the advent of digital in the early ‘90s, process-color printing began to fall out of favor. This was primarily because it was so difficult to ...
 
Grey Scale Screen Printing by Lon Winters NEW!!
As you may, or may not know, we recently spent a week with the first Printwear Shop Makeover winner in Plymouth, Mich. We spent five days with our new friends Nancy, Rose and Gary at Heritage Logo Works. While streamlining the process and dialing in some new techniques, we also worked up a project interesting enough to make it into our Software to Substrate monthly column.
 
Performance Practicum: Printing on performance apparel by Lon Winters NEW!!
With the eminent arrival of the spring also comes the outdoor spring sports season. We found ourselves gearing up to print on those shrinking, dye migrating, stretching, bleeding nightmare poly fleece garments. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?
 
Process Printing on Darks by Lon Winters NEW!!
A recent client was fairly proficient at basic four-color process on white and was getting good results. However, since we would be focusing on dark and black shirt printing during our visit, the salesperson let the cat out of the bag. So, before we even started the learning curve, the sales staff had already sold a job. Typical isn’t it? It would be okay though, we had a template to run through the whole process. Sometimes things just work out.
 
Correcting Process Color Images On Press by Mark Coudray
One of the most perplexing, challenging aspects of printing four-color process is balancing color on press. This difficulty is due to the general lack of color knowledge of press operators and supervisors, most of whom started as entry-level helpers or general production workers.
 
Developing Maximum Color Strength when Using Four Color Process By Mark Coudray
True process color printing on textiles has been around for about 30 years. Any screen printer who has tried it knows that printing halftone color on a fabric surface is much different than if it were printed on paper.
 
Improving Color to Color Register on Press by Mark Coudray
Color-to-color fit is one of my pet peeves. I hate out of register images, especially ones that have made it to the general public. It takes so little to make it right in the first place.
 
Lenticular Garment Graphics - Printing in another Dimension by Lon Winters
n the sign business the lenticular printing process has been around for over a decade and is generally referred to as an optical enhancement to conventional printing that transforms a hard copy poster or sign into three dimensional or animated version of itself. Lenticular imaging utilizes a...
 
Off Contact Influence on Print Quality by Mark Coudray
Whenever the topic of print quality on press arises, the conversation will usually drift to the topic of off contact. This is one of the most critical parts of the print equation.
 
Practical Tips For Color Mixing And Matching by Mark Coudray
Your ability to see and communicate color is critical to professionally reproducing designs. In our highly competitive market, understanding color makes the difference between a delighted client and one who is disappointed with the final result.
 
Reducing Misprints by Mark Coudray
Misprints, everybody has them. Some days are better than others. Some jobs are always a problem. How much is it costing you?
 
Top 10 Quick Start Secrets To Printing Better Halftones by Mark Coudray
Halftone printing is all about the dots. The whole concept of printing various tones by fooling the eye is the very definition of a halftone. The tones we get are determined by the accuracy of the dots we print.
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