Nile Lee Wain has been a graphic designer for a screen printing company in Tampa, Florida for many years. Nile Lee Wain has been in the business so long that he is considered one of the experts in the screen printing industry. In fact, Nile Lee Wain has developed thousands of unique screen printed items for a long list of clients. He would like to share with readers a little bit about how the process of screen printing works.
1) Start with Artwork
The first step in the screen printing process is to start with a piece of artwork. Without artwork, you don’t have anything to print. According to Nile Lee Wain, there are a variety of different ways to obtain art. Sometimes Nile Lee Wain has customers bring him something they have created, other times they have copied an image, and many times they ask him to completely design the piece from scratch. The program of choice for current screen printers is Photoshop or CorelDraw X5. These are top-of-the-line programs that are able to separate colors and clean up artwork for the actual printing process.
2) Create the Film Positive
The next step for Nile Lee Wain is to develop a film positive to transfer the image from the computer program to the shirt. One way to think of a film positive is to picture a transparent sheet for an overhead projector. Film positives are much like these. Nile Lee Wain notes that the image is always printed in black, and the darker the better.
3) Expose the Image
Nile Lee Wain’s third job is to expose the film positive to the screen. A ‘screen printing frame’ is used for this process. Nile Lee Wain says these frames are made of wood or aluminum with a mesh material that stretches. The image, or film positive, is placed on the mesh and ink passes through it when a squeegee is pressed against it. Prior to placing the film on the mesh, a coating of emulsion is placed on it. This light-sensitive material helps you in the darkroom. The screen dries, but the positive area of the film blocks the light from the emulsion. This gives Nile Lee Wain an area that is unexposed.
4) Setup the Press and Print
Now comes the easy part. Simply place your screen and shirt in the printing press, load the color arms, and clamp them together. Before long, you will have a screen-printed shirt.