T-Shirt Screen Printing & Custom Design in Fort Collins
Screen Printing is one of the oldest forms of artistic reproduction, dating back to the Chinese Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Using a squeegee, ink, and a stencil created from an artwork separation and mesh screen, it can be done on a wide variety of substrates and is used for fine art, signs, posters, promotional products, and of course T-Shirts.
Here at Absolute Graphics in Fort Collins, we’ve mastered multiple t-shirt screen printing techniques in order to provide the best custom design and reproduction capabilities possible. From art and design, through pre-press and set up, to the full blown print run, we’ve got the experience, know how, and equipment to make sure your shirts come out looking and feeling great!
Art & Design
All screen-printed shirts start out with an original piece of artwork. Whether done by hand, photograph, or computer generated, a digital file will be created then output onto clear velum to create the separations we use to make our screens. Part of the artist’s job is to optimize the file before output, so the better the original the higher quality print we’ll be able to achieve. We do offer full artwork services if you need us to create or clean up a design for you.
Pre-Press & Setup
Important steps in t-shirt printing include making the screens, setting them up on press, and mixing ink colors. These steps are where the printer makes decisions about screen mesh, squeegee hardness, angle, and pressure, ink color, and other job specific technical factors. This stage is also where the printer lines up the design color by color, to make sure it’s in registration. The last step before the actual run is to complete a test print.
Printing & Curing
Once screens are set up for production it’s time to print. Utilizing an automatic or manual press depending on order size, we’re able to produce up to 500 shirts per hour or more, while still maintaining strict quality control. Liquid plastisol inks are heat sensitive, so the last step is to cure them in our dryer, making sure the ink reaches a temperature of 320 degrees so that it becomes a solid and fuses to the fibers of the shirt.
More Information about Screen Printing
When it comes to custom t-shirts, one size does not fit all. By definition, doing a custom design with specific artwork, colors, and usage, is a process that differs from job to job. To accommodate, we have different printing processes depending on the artwork that is submitted to us. A factor that makes us one of the best t-shirt screen printing and custom design companies in Fort Collins, and all of Northern Colorado, is the ability to troubleshoot a piece of artwork, and then using the proper print method, reproduce it on a shirt as close to the original as possible.
Used mostly in logos and other two-dimensional artwork, spot color separations are most appropriate when there are well defined fields of color, usually with outlines, and nice solid or smooth gradients of ink coverage. This is the most precise method of printing and will give the most exact color reproduction. Adding an underbase for dark colored items, which acts like a primer coat against the color of the substrate, allows the printer to maintain bright vibrant colors all throughout the design.
Four Color Process
Four color process, also known as cmyk printing, is a method of separation where the design is broken into four basic colors, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. These colors are then printed in halftone patterns, wet on wet, in order to mix together on press, forming all the colors and shapes in the design. CMYK prints are good for photos or other realistic types of designs utilizing pixel based art that have lots of colors, tones, depth, and random gradients. Due to the transparency of the inks, four color process is most successful when printed on white or very light colored garments.
Simulated process separations are a hybrid of spot color and cmyk printing used when the art has lots of colors, tones, depth, and gradients, but when a more opaque design is required for dark colored garments, or when ink colors are more crucial to the final product. Using this method, we print in halftone patterns to form the colors and shapes, but use standard spot color inks mixed specifically for the particular artwork.
Discharge printing is a water based solution for printing garments when a softer hand or modified look is needed. Just like the name indicates, discharge printing is a process that removes the dye from the garment before or while simultaneously adding the color. Many discharge prints are achieved with a clear base, using no pigment at all, which gives a natural look and feel to the final product and also a breathability to the garment not achieved with standard plastisol ink. The soft feel of discharge printing is especially important when printing an item like a towel, where a normal plastisol ink would have a buildup resulting in an unpleasant feel or texture on the item.
Metallic, glitter, glow in the dark, neon, heat or light reactive, and puff are all included in the list of specialty inks that we can use. These offerings are a great way to add a little something extra to a basic design, or to really make your artwork stand out as something different from everybody else.