There are two ways of printing a shirt. The first one, and the widely known of the two, is the screen printing method. The other one is the direct-to-garment printing.
Direct-to-garment printing is notable for its use of home printers instead of professional printing equipment that costs quite a lot of dollars to buy. It is touted as the cheapest alternative to screen printing and is quite simple to do. First, you print out the design you want put on the T-shirt on a special type of printing paper, and then you iron it to the shirt. That’s it, you’re done.
Because of its simplicity, direct-to-garment printing is preferred by most people to print their designs since they can reproduce photographs conveniently and easily without suffering a loss of quality or image clarity. It is also ideal for those that desire to print only a small amount of tee shirts since getting a professional printing service requires bulk orders of about a hundred shirts or more.
However, when you want to print out a lot of shirts, then direct-to-garment printing is definitely not your cup of tea. That is because for every shirt you print the design on, you have to print the design separately. That is time-consuming and, not to mention, expensive.
Screen printing, on the other hand, is ideal for this because they only need to use one screen for each design they need to print on each individual shirt. They only need to create one template for the design, and then they press the design right away on each shirt. You can compare screen printing services to the busy bees in your garden: they hover on one flower, grab their honey or pollen, and then they move on to the next flower. So, printers apply the design to one shirt, wait for it to be finished, and then they move on to the next.
What makes screen printing so expensive is the fact that their equipment for pressing is expensive. However, did you know that you could use your home printers to start a screen printing service?
Stenciling: That’s the Key
The stencil, next to the screen, is the most important tool in screen printing. The stencil is the template for the design. It acts like a filter. The stencil has open and closed areas that allow the ink to pass through. The open areas follow the contour of the design. This way, the printing ink can pass through and take the shape of the design. All the other parts are made to block the ink from getting through the screen.
That’s where your home printer comes in. One of the two ways of making a stencil is to cut out the design from any non-porous material and place it at the bottom of the screen. You can use your home printer to print out the design, cut it out from the paper, and reproduce the design on a non-porous material that you can use as a negative. You then cut out the design again from your negative, and you’re all set to print it.