Custom promotional merch is a big business that is growing at a rapid rate with various uses. People create them to show their personality and gifts, while organizations use them for gifts, giveaways, branding, promotions, etc. However, there are plenty of ways to design your merch with various techniques, and often people get confused because of the lack of knowledge. One of those methods is screen printing. This blog will provide you with all the information about designing your merch using this method. Let's start by answering:
What is screen printing?
Screen printing is a garment printing technique for printing on apparel like t-shirts, hoodies, socks, etc., using a stencil. The stencil is created according to the design you want to print, and the thick ink penetrates deep into the fabric, making the design highly durable. The creation of a stencil is the only resource-intensive process involved.
Reasons to use screen printing service for promotional merch:
When you want merch for your brand, you don't want the images to be blurry or start fading with washing.
- Bold images and versatile colors: One of the most significant advantages of using screen printing is the bold images and colors it produces. The process is also pretty universal, so the logo, design, and texts are clear. In methods like direct-to-garment printing, the colors are absorbed straight into the garment. While in this process, the thick ink stays on the top of the fabric. In the merch printing, the design starts fading out after a while, commonly from the first wash, and it starts looking gruesome. It doesn't happen with screen printing, so your brand is visible to receivers and people in front.
- Compatible with different colored merch: Since the ink doesn't sip into the fabric, it can create designs on any colored garment. You only have to work on selecting colors to match the contrast of the images and colors of the merch. When you choose contrasting colors, the designs, logo, and text pop out; it gives people an idea about your quality.
- Looks lovely: People associate promotional merch with the business. When trying to create a brand image, you want your promotional merch to be consistent with your business image. Screen printing provides a beautiful professional look. The machine used dries the ink fast, creating a sturdy design that is resistant to scratching during regular use. People can see your logo from a distance, making it a suitable choice for promotional merch.
- Highly customizable: The screen printing process is highly customizable and can be used with any garments, colors, materials, etc. Logo placement and design are essential for promotional merch; people need to see the design easily. The method provides you the freedom of choosing various colors combinations.
- Cost-effective: The method is quite budget-friendly, a significant factor in promotional merch; most small companies struggle with the promotion budget. You can choose any fabric like cotton, polyester, nylon, blended, etc., for creating custom promotional items.
- Fast turnaround: Standard printing usually takes a lot of time to organize the print head and adjust the color settings for every print, making the process slower. The printer uses a mesh to change the colors according to the image in the screen printing method. The time taken is less because the print head presses the design to the fabric using heat and pressure. The quality of the design remains intact, making it ideal for bulk orders.
Step-by-step process of screen printing:
Whether you want to create merch for personal or professional use, this step-by-step guide can help you make your awesome merch. The process starts with screen printing equipment that includes:
Screen printing press:
The most vital component of the process is that it holds the screen firmly in place during the merch printing. It makes it efficient and easy for a person to swap out the clothing for printing.
These are used to make the print by pushing the mesh screen on the merch. They transfer a color imprint of the design on the stencil on the fabric. There are four popular types of inks available in the market:
- It is suitable for various types of fabrics.
- The ink is dense; it doesn't arch and is ideal for softer prints.
- Viscosity makes it helpful to print on darker fabrics.
- It accurately matches the Pantone color system.
- It is nonsustainable, and people nowadays like to go with sustainable inks.
- Since the ink is quite thick, it doesn't get soaked into the fabric and only settles above it, giving the design a rubbery feel.
- This ink requires curing and can't be dried in the sun.
Water-based: This type of ink is becoming pretty popular because of its sustainable nature.
- Water-based inks are eco-friendly.
- It binds with the fabric, providing the essence of a dye and appearing softer to look and feel.
- These work amazingly with light or white-colored materials.
- When used on darker fabrics, you can create a vintage look.
- The ink is easy to work with and can be mastered with some training.
- After the liquid colors solidify, it may look dull; you might not get the exact look you imagined.
- It requires a white base for darker fabric.
- It is challenging to work with during humid conditions and needs a heat source to dry the material.
- They work best on cotton, and you get a muted design version with other materials.
- They don't have a shelf life, and even after adding a discharging agent, you will have to use it within 48-hours.
- It works well on darker garments.
- The process saves printers time and money.
- These inks work best with pure cotton.
- The process requires a higher degree of working experience and skills.
- The workspace needs to be well-ventilated because the inks smell foul.
- A heat source is necessary to cure the discharge ink fully.
- They provide shine and sparkle, giving a unique look to your merch.
- These are available in a wide variety and are helpful for specific purposes like color change with temperature.
- It requires higher experience and skills.
- They work well with only a specific fabric type.
The screen is a silkscreen made with a wooden frame with a fabric stretch over the top. It is coated with emulsion and exposed to be used as a stencil. After the printing process is done, it is cleaned with cold water.
It is the rubber blade attached to a plastic handle that helps to push the ink through the screen onto the fabric which is being printed. Picking a squeegee that is of similar size to the screen frame helps with clear printing.
Here, the screen is washed after use to remove all the emulsion extracts. The size is relative to the print, i.e., larger prints require larger stations while the smaller ones need smaller stations.
These were the commonly used pieces of equipment for the process; using these prints are created by following the steps:
- Choosing a design: You need to select a design to start your promotional merch printing. Manufacturers like EverLighten provide in-house design experts to help develop designs if you don't have a design ready. Then, choose the item on which you want to print, like socks, t-shirts, hoodies, etc.
- Screen preparation: The manufacturer chooses a screen according to the complexity and the printing cloth. They then overlay the screen with an emulsion.
- Exposing the emulsion: The transparent film with the design is laid onto the emulsion and exposed to bright light for printing.
- Washing the emulsion: Some areas will harden after the light exposure, while others will remain unhardened. The unhardened region is washed off, creating a design imprint for the ink to pass.
- Creating a stencil: After the screen is dried, it's time to make corrections for precise print. Now, the stencil is all set to use.
- Fabric preparation: The screen is laid flat on the printing press, and then the merch is put on the board below the screen.
- Ink pressing: Ink is poured on the screen edge, and a squeegee is used for ink pulling along the screen length. The ink passing imprints the design on it.
- Drying: The merch is dried using a dryer to create a long-lasting finish. It is then tested before shipping to the owner.
Like any other custom product manufacturing, there are some misconceptions regarding screen printing. Let's debunk these:
Screen printing is expensive: One of the biggest misconceptions about the process is being expensive. It was created because most manufacturers only accepted bulk orders and didn't pay heed to smaller orders.
It is only for t-shirts: In the beginning, manufacturers used screen printing for t-shirts only. With technological advancement, sophisticated machines can create printing for many other products, including activewear, fleece, hoodies, socks, beanies, masks, etc.
You can't design your merch: You don't have to stick with the manufacturers' options. Manufacturers like EverLighten provide 100% customization options and freedom to choose your merch.
It takes long for events: Experienced manufacturers with a reliable team can produce promotional products at a fast pace.
The design flakes off: People fear the design will flake off and it will start to look bad, but using the correct procedure produces images that last long.
Don't let the misconceptions stop you from creating the best design for your promotional merch. However, you would like to create high-quality merch with beautiful designs to capture people's attention. It is possible with a reliable manufacturer with experience, expertise, and the latest technology. EverLighten has been in the promotional merch manufacturing for over eighteen years and has helped organizations, nonprofits, celebrities, sports teams, and individuals create their custom products.
Best pricing: They provide factory-direct pricing because they own a factory and are not intermediaries.
Quality in every product: They use top-quality materials and the latest processes to produce items.
Real people, fantastic service: EverLighten loves helping; each customer gets help from design to delivery.
Designs to impress: With their in-house designers, the design in your head is brought to reality.
No minimum order requirement: You can order any number of products you need; they accept every order without a minimum limit.
Worldwide shipping: They provide worldwide shipping with order tracking.
For more information, queries and designing, visit EverLighten.com.