Silk screening is a popular printing method where a thin transparent silk membrane is used to imprint a stencil on a substrate, but in places specially designed to prevent ink from seeping through. The silk substrate is applied to a screen which has been electrically charged with a flow of current passing through it. The ink is then transferred across the screen from the stencil applied on the substrate using a special process called electrolysis. Silk screening is suitable for flat surfaces as well as curved ones, and can be used to create complex images, such as signs or logos. It has recently become more popular with the use of LED screens that change colour depending on the presence of an electric current passing through them.
This type of printing method is not without its disadvantages though. The most obvious one is that silk-screen printing can only be used on silk items that are not porous in nature. So silk garments cannot be printed using this method. Another disadvantage is that it cannot be used on items that are water-soluble, as its ink will not adhere to them. However, this problem can easily be overcome by ensuring that the substrate being printed with silk-screen printing ink is not highly permeable.
This type of printing ink can be used in textile test panels to generate various fabrics. The most popular fabric to be tested with this method is denim. Many textile manufacturers use silk screening to create garments with better wear, especially when they have been crafted using special hand-sewn techniques. Silk items can also be printed onto the same test panels to create photographic reproductions of items such as tablecloths and napkins. This enables the manufacturers to produce a large number of items of varying sizes without having them produced in a similar style.
Another advantage of silk printing over other forms of screen printing is that the image quality produced is top quality. Because the ink is run on a woven fabric, it passes through the same process as cotton cloth does when it is first processed. Therefore, the individual strands of each fiber are made smooth and flat, and therefore do not form lumps or bumps during processing. When the test panels are ready for use, the image quality is as good if not better than cotton.
Some disadvantages of using this type of digital printing machine methods include moderate print speed and poor print quality. Silk screen printing does not work well with low resolution images because the resolution of the fabric does not change during the process. However, higher resolution items such as digital photographs work well with this technique. Another disadvantage of using this method is that the printing process can take much longer than with other types of printing. It can sometimes take up to four hours to complete one custom printed silk panel.
With regard to printing high resolution photographic images, there are two competing technologies – digital screen printing and digital inkjet printing. Both techniques are faster than traditional silk printing. Digital screen printing generally provides more vibrant colors and is easier to use. However, it does not work well with fine detail images. The image may become smudged or fuzzy.
Digital inkjet printing requires no special equipment. The image is printed directly onto an appropriate surface, such as a standard white paper or a custom fitted piece of fabric. This process does not require any type of stencils or inks. The printout is simply created using computer software.
The final product is typically ready to hang onto after printing has completed. The silk screen printing process eliminates the need for ironing the design onto a garment. The entire project can be completed in one day. Silk printing is an inexpensive way to print custom t-shirts on a large scale.