Before even thinking about preparing your screen printing order.
At Colortex screen printing and embroidery everything starts with a vector artwork or a concept that can be developed or expanded upon by our experienced graphic design department. Once the design has been completed or submitted we will generate an order in our shop management software in order to put your order into production and keep you and/or your customer updated throughout the whole screen printing order process. In order to ensure that the artwork comes out exactly as planned we will generate print ready mock ups with your logo or your clients logo on them in order to make sure that the placement, size, and colours have been ordered correctly. Once orders have been approved we transfer the order to our production department in order to make screen printing ready artwork files that separate each colour to be ready for printing.
Everything starts with a screen printing screen.
The process of screen printing is a technique using a high modulus, low elongation monofilament polyester screen printing fabric mesh in an aluminum frame. Each mesh is offered in a varied mesh count, each with its individual purpose to change the screen printing ink deposit based on its mesh count number which is measured in n°/inch.
Getting the image positive on the screen
With the aluminum screen printing screen stretched with a fabric mesh, a product called emulsion which is required in order to generate a photo stencil on the screen. The screen printing emulsion is the light-sensitive liquid that is either manual coated or automatically coated with a coating machine. Once the screen printing emulsion has been coated on each side of the screens, the screens need to be left to dry until each screen can have an image positive printed on the screen. In this step of the process, each colour in the soon to be screen printed design will have a wax printed image positive on the screen. Once the screens have gone through the direct to screen unit, they are placed in an exposure unit. The exposure is a unit that provides a bright light source that hardens the emulsion that is exposed to the light. What this means is that the film positive that has been printed on the screen in the previous step prevents the emulsion from being exposed to the light in order for the emulsion not to harden in that area. After the screens are exposed we move over to the clean wash booth in order to rinse off the wax from the wax positive as well as the emulsion that hasn't hardened in order to create the screen with the completed and burnt image.
We are just about ready to screen print the artwork
Once the screen has dried off after being rinsed off, we move on to taping the inside of the screen as the screen printing emulsion does not go all the way to the edges of the aluminum frame. We also take off the underside of the screen as a precautionary way to avoid the chances of pinholes. On the underside of the screen, we don't tape off the image and the registration marks, we tape those off later in the process. Once all the screens are taped off, one last verification through a light table in order to make sure no pin holes are in the artwork. If pinhoes are present, we use block out applied with a fine point object on the small holes in order to block it off.
Moving onto our Roq automatic screen printing presses
With all the screens on hand, we move over to our automatic Roq screen printing presses in order to load all the screens into each individual print head. We achieve this by using our Roq registration pallets. The registration pallet is placed on the print arm and this allows us to place each screen on each individual printhead with our U clamp system within micro registration adjustments. Our automatic screen printing machines that we use have multiple print heads as well as flash units. The screen printing print sequences depend on a variety of factors that our expert screen printing artist establishes when setting up the orders. Once all the screens are placed in sequence we start by doing a test print.This is accomplished by printing the first part of the design often the portion of the screen printed design that we refer to as the base. From there one by one each colour/artwork piece in micro registered to the base colour. After the design is all registered and ready to print, we need to block off the registration marks that just helped us register the screens.
Screen Printing the order
Once the order is registered, we move on to screen printing the order. Before printing, it is essential to warm up our honeycomb aluminum pallets as we need to have them warm in order to help with flash curing between each print as well as heat activating the glue that helps hold down the fabric on the pallet. While the pallets are warming up, we apply the heat activated glue to the pallets only in the area that will be getting a screen print in order to avoid over consumption of the product. Now that the screen printing pallets are all warmed up, it is time to load the apparel onto the Roq screen printing presses. This is achieved by having two operators on the carousel. One of the operators is the one loading the apparel one by one as well as controlling the machine and the other is the one pulling off the shirts and laying them flat on the dryer belt. The apparel runs through the dryer at different temperatures for different times under the heat exposure in order to ensure that the ink is cured all the way through.
Completing and packaging the order.
At the end of the dryer chamber there is an individual that grabs each individual piece and checks to ensure that there are no printing defects. If something is not looking as it should when the apparel is coming out of the dryer, he is tasked with advising the screen printing press operators of the issues if they are any. Depending on the printing location requirements the shirts will either be bundled and packaged for bulk shipping, re stacked in piles of individuals sizes if the order needs to be screen printed in another location or the stacks are moved over to our retail finishing department that will be tasked with adding hem tags, hang gag of complete specialty package such as individual folding, bagging and tagging.
Once the orders have been completely packaged they move onto our shipping department that then evaluates if the orders need to be split shipped, shipped, inventoried, picked up. Based on your needs or you clients needs, no order is too small or too big for us to handle.