Our minimum order quantity for custom screen printing is 36 pieces – based on each individual job setup. Orders requesting fewer than standard minimums will require special consideration.
Why a 36 piece minimum? It takes the same amount of time and labor to prepare the artwork for screen printing, produce the screens and set up the press to print shirts. If you wanted less than that, the overall cost per shirt would add up to the same as if you ordered 36 shirts. You may mix and match garment styles within the 36 pieces, but the logo itself must be produced a minimum of 36 times for us to create a price quote for the job.
Our standard turn around time for screen printing is 5-7 business days. Please note that production time begins after receipt of order AND artwork approval.
Orders CAN NOT go into production without prior artwork approval. Please keep this in mind if there are defined due dates for you order, as rush charges may be incurred. Any job requiring production in less than our standard turn around is considered a RUSH ORDER and is subject to production schedule availability.
We have 36 standard ink colors to choose from – offered at no additional charge.
If you need to match a specific color, we offer pantone color matching for a one time (per order) extra charge of $125 per color.
Along with the many details for processing an order, there are a number of steps that happen between print request and the packing of the finished screen printed product.
REVIEW ART SUBMISSION
If artwork is customer supplied, we must determine if it will print well. We review each piece art and offer suggestions and recommendations for better printing if necessary. To help, we’ve developed an artwork requirements guideline based on our experience over the years.
Once the artwork is determined good for printing, we’ll email you a digital art proof showing a mock up of the design on the garment style and color(s). On this proof, we’ll list out the exact imprint sizes and list the pantone colors we intend to use. The mock-up is an estimate for sizing and location. It’s at this stage we request your artwork approval so that we may proceed with your order, so if you have any questions or concerns, please let us know!
COLOR SEPARATION AND FILM OUTPUT
For each color in a design, we produce a piece of film that will become an individual screen. Each separate screen is put on press and loaded with a specific color to be printed. The process for deconstructing the art into it’s single color components is called color separation. Once the art is separated, we output a film positive for each color.
Screen exposure or “burning screens” is the process of creating a screen stencil from the image on the film. A pre-stretched screen is coated with a photo-reactive emulsion and dried. The film is then adhered to the coated screen and exposed to high intensity light for a defined period of time. After exposure, the screen is sprayed with water to remove the emulsion from the image area.
SCREEN PREP FOR PRODUCTION
Once the screen has dried from the wash out, we prep it for the production run. We apply block-out to the emulsion areas outside of the design. This prevents the occurrence of pin-holes (tiny holes in the stencil that allow unwanted dots on a shirt) and helps stabilize the stencil for the entire production run. The edges of the screen are taped off to prevent other ink leakage and allow easier clean-up.
While the film is being printed and the screens are being made, the ink department is pulling the ink and stationing it in a holding area for the press operators. Based on your order, we either use our stock inks or custom mix requested pms inks with our pantone color matching system.
There’s actually quite a lot of variables that are addressed each time a screen print design is set up on press. Depending on the design and desired outcome, press operators consider the amount of off-contact, squeegee speed, squeegee angle, durometer and other technical aspects of screen print. After the initial set up, these settings are recorded so the set up takes a fraction of the time for a re-order.
Good screen printing really comes down to the separation process. If the art isn’t separated well, it’s not going to print well.
Below is a breakdown of our standard printing methods:
BASIC SPOT COLOR PRINTING
Spot color printing uses standard plastisol inks and is usually no more than 3-4 colors. The process of assigning pantone colors is straightforward and the number of colors is easy to count. The design colors may contain halftones, but the colors do not blend together.
SIMULATED PROCESS PRINTING ON DARKS
Simulated process printing is the method of creating color separations for photographic or very complex, color rich graphics on colored garments. The method mixes standard opacity plastisol inks to achieve a photorealistic 4-color process look. Few shops can achieve quality simulated process prints due to the many variables involved.
4-COLOR PROCESS PRINTING ON LIGHTS
4-color process prints specially formulated inks in the colors of cyan, magenta, yellow & black to simulate how a regular ink jet printer would print. The inks are transparent, so this process can only be used when printing on white or, in certain cases, light garments. Images that call for this process are usually photographic. If necessary, spot colors may be added to the 4-color process ink print order for increased vibrance and saturation.
Retail inspired designs call for softer printing. Inks work best on white or light garments with the use of fashion-soft base additives and water-based inks. Achieving soft prints on dark garments is not as straight forward, so when requesting a soft-hand print on darks be sure to have a conversation with our art department so you know just what to expect. Below is a breakdown of the different processes we use and a little bit about each one.
Discharge ink was developed specifically for soft-hand printing on dark garments. Discharge is a water-based ink that bleaches the garment weave while depositing pigment. The look of the final print is quite different from traditional plastisol prints. The end print is more muted, therefore pantone ink matching is not possible. Tight logo style graphics aren’t ideal for discharge printing. One color designs work best. It’s best to consult with our art department to make sure your design will work for discharge printing.
Only 100% cotton garments have the potential to discharge. That being said, the exact discharge-ability of a particular tee is dependent on the conditions of the specific dye lot. A dye lot is the entire batch of shirts dyed at the same time. This is done in the t-shirt manufacturing process. There are a number of variables that can affect the quality discharge that varies from lot to lot. A black Hanes tee you print with discharge in June may not match a discharge print you do in July. Many times, t-shirt manufacturers will batch a bunch of overstock colors and dye them all black. Certain color shirts are more difficult to discharge. Reds, royals, cranberry, purples, and teal colors are all very difficult to get a consistent predictable discharge color.
In general, discharge is a very unpredictable process, that cannot hold a lot of detail. If you would like to screen print your custom design with discharge ink, be prepared to be super flexible with the results. Discharge printing can really be fantastic for certain designs, but the right designs are few and far between. Keep in mind that the soft-hand effect is only achieved after the garment has been washed once.
Fashion soft is a soft-hand additive that mixes with plastisol inks to achieve a softer feel. These inks have a hand comparable to water-based printing, but holds much more detail. Ink colors may print with a slightly muted tone so pantone color matching is approximate. In many cases, it’s a better alternative to water-based or discharge printing – especially for designs with fine detail.