The Screen Printing Process

The Screen Printing Process

What is Screen Printing?

Simply put, screen printing is the process of putting ink onto a garment by pushing ink through a screen using a squeegee. The screen acts as a stencil. Each print color requires its own screen. For example, a 4 color image will require at least 4 screens with each color of ink placed on an individual screen. A garment is sent around the press, and each screen prints a color onto the garment one by one.

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Custom Tags - FTC Legal Requirements

Custom Tags - FTC Legal Requirements

When having shirts printed, getting custom tags is really the cherry on top. Having a tag with your brand name and website on it says a lot more about what you stand for than a Gildan, Next Level, or Hanes tag. It’s another opportunity to tie your branding together and let your customers know they are buying high quality merchandise.

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The Local Artists of Twin City Tees

The Local Artists of Twin City Tees

Alex Haug started Twin City Tees from nothing in 2005. Although Alex has no background in art and design, he appreciates those that do. Alex often jokes that if he didn’t have this t-shirt printing business, he’s not sure what he would be doing. One thing he is great at is assembling a skilled team of artists. Today if you walk into Twin City Tees it feels a bit like a hangout for artists who funnel their focus into screen printing.

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What is Screen Printing and the Process?

What exactly is screen printing?
Screen printing has been around for centuries, and the amazing part is that the process hasn’t changed much since its earliest origins.  It owes its longevity to its simplicity and versatility.  You can find example of screen printing in all industries, from screen printed conductive metal on circuit boards and computer parts, CD labels, skate board decks, posters, art, and of course T-shirt and Garment printing!

Screen printing is achieved by creating a stencil on a film of fine mesh.  Then a squeegee is used to press ink through the stenciled mesh in an even layer onto a substrate (shirt/paper). Every different color is a different screen. Screen printing hasn’t changed much but the tools and equipment have been advancing since the beginning.  Screens aren’t made with silk anymore, squeegees come in all sorts of varieties of rubbers, and presses range from simple table hinge clamps to enormous 50 station automatic presses.  

What is the process from start to finish?
After we establish a connection with the customer we will either have them fill out a price estimate form on our website or take the information in person at the shop.  It is often best to look at the website form before coming into the shop to make sure you have all the information necessary to get a quote and place an order.
Once we have necessary information we will issue a price estimate that reflects the information provided.  If the customer wishes to continue and place an order a 50% down-payment is required.  After the down payment the garment blanks will be ordered.
The job won’t be put onto the print schedule until the artwork is finalized and approved.  Once that happens the artwork is passed to the screen department.
In the screen department they take the customers artwork and burn it on emulsion coated screens.  In this process a screen tech will image the artwork on a screen(essentially using a piece of equipment called a CTS “computer to screen” that prints the stencil with solid black ink directly on the emulsion coated screen.)  Then the screen tech will expose the screen with Ultra-Violet light.  The emulsion we have coated the screen with is a photosensitive material that will harden and no longer be water soluble when exposed to UV light.  The areas of the screen that were covered with black ink by the CTS will not receive any UV light and remain water soluble.  The screen tech then takes the exposed screen and washes away the areas that were not exposed to UV light and this makes the stencil for the ink to pas through the screen.  This process is repeated for each color of a design.  The screens are set aside to dry for use by the printers.

When the garments arrive a production specialist will unbox the Tees and the printers will then take your screens and set them up as per colors and placements listed in your artwork approval.  To do so they prep the screen and put it on one of our two automatic presses.  Though the presses are automatic there is still a great deal of human interaction.  A printer/press operator will decide in what order the color will best be printed and if any flash curing is required in between colors.  Then they will load the screens on the press along with squeegees and ink, and proceed to register the colors to line up together.  After all colors have been aligned the job is ready to be printed.  A press operator will load each shirt for the desired print placement.   The shirts are loaded onto platens that rotates around the press, traveling to each printed color.  Then a press operator will remove each shirt and place it on the dryer belt.  In the dryer the ink is heat cured into every shirt that is printed.  From there a production specialist will stack the shirts by size and double check the quantities to make sure they order is complete.

Then the garments are boxed, and the customer is contacted. The remaining balance is due upon receiving the printed garments picked up unless otherwise stated.

For more frequently asked questions, visit our FAQ page. Or, learn more about the Types of Prints and Inks.

On-site Screen Printing at Sidhe Brewing in St. Paul, MN

We were asked by Sidhe Brewing to join them for their beer release and burlesque show on St. Patrick's Day. We had a small set-up in the back of the brewery with 2 different design options and 2 different color garments.  It was a great opportunity for Sidhe Brewing to offer limited edition tees to help promote their new beer and company, at little cost to them.
Be sure to check them out if you haven't already! Good beer and great atmosphere. #SupportLocal
Click to enlarge images. 

Live Screen Printing For Geekettes At Target Commons In Minneapolis

We had an awesome opportunity to print on-site for Geekettes for their International Women's Day event held at the Target Commons in downtown Minneapolis. Geekettes is an empowering new organization facilitating relationships between women in the technology sector. They have many meetups and events in various countries and right here in Minneapolis. Be sure to check them out if you haven't! 

This event was set-up where the shirts were free promo tees for all attendees, with a 2-color front and a 1-color back. Feel free to contact us or visit our on-site/live screen printing page for more information on this service.
Click to enlarge images.

Importance Of Good Artwork Separation In Screen Printing

We had a customer come to us looking for some help. They had spent thousands of dollars working with a screen printer who sent them a finished product that shouldn't even have left the shop, in our eyes. The images alone should speak for themselves, the importance of good artwork separation and working with the right inks. Each final print done by Twin City Tees was printed in either discharge or water-based inks. Design done in-house and big thanks to our friend, Scott Detavernier, who owns and operates MySeps that helped us out with the artwork separation. 
Click to expand images.

Screen Printing On OSB For Inbound Brewco's New Taproom Store

We've been working with Inbound Brewco opening in the North Loop over the past few months. Their awesome new brewery will be opening in March in Minneapolis near the Target Center. We had a unique opportunity to screen print on the wood walls (OSB panels) to create a kind of wallpaper look, that will be going up in their new taproom store. We were printing from 4:30pm-10:30pm to get all 7 panels done. It took 1 printer and 1 person to stand on the screen acting as the clamp to hold it in place.

Fun project to work on, great learning experience, awesome Inbound Brewco/North Loop Brew crew to work with! Be sure to check out the walls in the store when they open!

Click on images to enlarge.

Screen printing on wooden boards for Inbound Brewco's new taproom store in Minneapolis, Minnesota! 6 hours of work put into 30 seconds. Printing What Matters.

Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival - Live Screen Printing

We had a great opportunity to partner with Growler Magazine for the 2016 Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival (which was sold out) at the State Fairgrounds, to do live printing on-site. This was a great way for them to test out the market to see what designs and color combos sold well and offer their customers a new unique experience.  We had a great time, got some awesome feedback, and were able to give the customers a new tee with a story. 

Live Screen Printing at MEfest - Aria, Minneapolis

A few months ago we were contacted by Weight Watchers to print on-site for their new event called, MEfest, taking place at the beautiful Aria in Minneapolis. It was an inspiring event to be apart of because the purpose of it was to show women how to make and take time to replenish themselves in some entirely new ways. We did the first imprint on the tote bags a few days prior to the event and then at the event, people were able to choose 1 of 15 empowering words to fill in the blank on their bag. With just over 600 people attending, the day was long, but very inspiring to be around such positive energy all day. We even had an amazing opportunity to sit in on a private performance by Caroline Smith and Lizzo. We would like to thank Jenna Freimuth for this amazing opportunity and we look forward to more events in the future.

On-site Printing at Flat Earth Brewery

We partnered with RekInspire and printed on-site at Flat Earth Brewing Company on September 24th from 4:30-6:30pm for the Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa Alumni Event, that was also open to the public. Rekinspire donated 20% of total sales from their events to the Corps. It was a fun event to work and is always exciting seeing people get excited about screen printing.

Live Screen Printing For Fifth Element in Minneapolis

We had a wonderful opportunity to print on-site at the Fifth Element Parking Lot Sale a couple weeks ago. Despite the wonderful and unpredictable Minnesota weather, the first part of the day was beautiful and the event was hopping! It's always fun to see the interest and excitement of customers who have never seen how shirts are printed and to have them walk away with something extra special after being apart of the process. We do our best to educate each customer on the printing process and answer any questions we can.

Here are some photos from the event and if you are interested in having a unique kind of entertainment at your next event, check out our fundraising and events services page.

Wildlife Science Center - Open House Fundraising Event

Twin City Tees and Rekinspire had the pleasure of hosting a fundraising event for the Wildlife Science Center (WSC) in June. They were able to raise over $300 in just 4 hours with just under 35 people attending the event. There was a food truck and booths out back, along with some tables and chairs for people to relax at. We had 8 designs set up on the presses, ranging from custom Minnesota themed designs to Wildlife designs and their logo. The WSC brought in a snake and a screech owl for extra entertainment and to educate people on what amazing stuff they do at their center. Overall, everyone was extremely pleased with how the event turned out and had a blast seeing how t-shirts are made.

Check out this page for more information on our Open House Events.

Love Wins Shirts and Twin Cities PRIDE Festival

Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide!!

We heard the news Friday morning about 9am at the shop as we were getting ready for our weekend at the Twin Cities PRIDE Festival and we couldn't help but to jump into action! We had Stan, one of our designers, come up with a sweet Love Wins designs and we were able to have 200+ shirts boxed and ready to go to the festival by noon! We kept it simple by doing a sweet rainbow split fountain print. 

Needless to say, we SOLD OUT at the festival! Alex had to go back to the print shop on Saturday night and stayed there until midnight printing more tanks and tees for Sunday, the last day of the festival. This was a perfect example of what social listening can do for your business. 

This design and our decision to act on this news was to show our support and excitement for the LGBT community. Congratulations! 

Sneak peak at the design thought process and event set-up.