NONPROFIT BRANDING: Learn How Screen-Printing Works. Fascinate Your Colleagues.

Cans of plastisol ink for screen-printing

Cans of plastisol ink for screen-printing

Screen-printing is the most common process for printing your logo on products.  Don’t understand how it works? This post will teach you. Then you can impress your boss and deal better with vendors. And you will get invited to all the best parties.

We’re about to change your life here……..

Imagine three things are sitting on the table in front of you: a window screen, a squeegee and a bucket of airplane glue. Use the squeegee to spread the glue on the screen. Let it dry. That film of dried glue filled in the little holes. The screen is now impermeable, right?

With the screen in this condition you can lay a blank T-shirt on the table, place the screen over it and dump a cup of water or turkey gravy on the screen. Nothing will pass through. Drag a fresh squeegee through the gravy puddle to force some through the screen. Even with that pressure it remains clean.

But – what if you take a pin and poke a few holes in the coat of dried glue? You could go further and clean the glue out of some large areas and some small ones. Maybe you would form a pattern with pinpricks. Or spell your name by opening up holes. When that’s done – it’s time to squeegee another glob of turkey gravy across the screen. Bingo! You just screen-printed a turkey gravy pattern through the holes in the film of glue and onto the shirt.

This technique also works with beef gravy. Vegans use tomato juice.iStock_000012358679Small

But gravy and juice wash out. So,try the right kind of specially formulated screen-printing ink. With that you can create a permanent screened impression that sinks into the fibers and remains soft and flexible. If you were printing on the impermeable surface of a solid object instead of on cotton fabric, you might use an enamel  ink made from a different formula – but the process would remain the same.

That’s screen-printing in its simplest form. Now, upgrade it.  Use modern technology to transfer your design to the screen.  Stretch those screens ever-so-tightly on expensive) frames carefully engineered to keep them rigid.  Experiment with screens of varied porosity for different effects.Use special thick screen-printing inks that are easy to handle and capable of producing all sorts of wonderful effects.

Automated, multi-screen equipment

Automated, multi-screen equipment

Put these components to work in complex, computer-driven assembly line machines that perfectly calibrate both screen and imprint surface. Now a series of colors can be printed with perfect registration – each color being applied through a different screen made to lay down ink in exactly the right place within your design, and with the right density . You’ve sophisticated the process a bit, but it’s still basic screen-printing. Only now you’re doing perfectly butt-registered multi-color spot-printing or even 4-color process printing.

BOTTOM LINE: Screen-printing is quite a bit more complex and labor intensive than the above might indicate. Here is a critical element that determines imprint quality and cost – the production costs is frond-loaded because plenty of judgment, skill and labor is required during the multiple steps of the pre-production process. 

This is all you really need to know when placing orders for custom screen-printed merchandise. And it’s probably a lot more than the person in the next office knows. So, strut your stuff in office discussions. You now have a new card to play. Play well!


Screen-printing is almost universal. Even so, don’t underestimate embroidery. New technologies make embroidery a surprisingly inexpensive way to apply multi-color logos that are zippier and more upscale than a screen-printed version. Let your vendor study your logo before committing to this process. Embroidery has limitations and potentially heavy front-end costs. Both can influence your choice between embroidery and screen-printing. Your vendor will estimate the costs and explain how well your logo and this process accommodate each other.


To explore bazillions of garments on which we can print or embroider your logo, visit the VisABILITY Apparel Showcase.

Here is a direct link. For the Scenic Route – start at the VisABILITY website & scroll down through cool stuff to the Apparel Showcase.

2 thoughts on “NONPROFIT BRANDING: Learn How Screen-Printing Works. Fascinate Your Colleagues.

  1. Pingback: NONPROFIT BRANDING: Cost, Impact and Use of Logo T-Shirts | Nonprofit Branding Blog

  2. Pingback: Nonprofit Branding Blog | Nonprofit Branding: Cost, Impact and Use of Logo T-Shirts

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