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What Materials Can Be Used For Screen Printing?

Screen printing, also known as serigraphy or silk screen printing, is a dynamic manufacturing technique that involves pressing ink through a stenciled mesh screen creating intricate designs. There are many screen printing materials, but traditionally the process involves printing designs onto fabric and paper materials.

Techprint has been in the screen printing business since 1974, designing and manufacturing  custom labels, graphic overlays, membrane switches, keyboards and printed electronic products for all industries. Continue reading if you’re wondering  how  screen printing works and what materials are used.

More About Screen Printing Materials

Because screen printing is so widely used, there are many different materials to cover. To start, one of the most common screen printing applications is on labels and decals. These can be made from a variety of materials, including vinyl, polyester, polycarbonate, and more.

Various plastic substrates find applications in screen printing, each offering unique advantages. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is favored for its bright color, anti-break properties, acid and alkali resistance, and cost-effectiveness. However, caution is warranted due to the potential toxicity from added materials during PVC production, making it unsuitable for food containers. ABS resin plastic, known for its engineering applications in televisions and calculators, stands out for its easy processing and forming capabilities. Polyethylene plastics, widely used, are versatile and can be transformed into finished products through extrusion, injection molding, and other processes. Polypropylene, another essential plastic variety, proves suitable for diverse molding methods, allowing for the creation of pipes, boxes, containers, films, fibers, and more. Each plastic substrate contributes to the diverse applications of screen printing, offering a range of options for various industries.

How Does Screen Printing Work?

Now, let’s go into further detail on the screen printing process. Screen printing involves pressing ink through a mesh screen onto a substrate, creating a printed design. The mesh, mounted on a frame, is tensioned for operation. A stencil, created by blocking parts of the screen, defines the design. After the pre-press process, where emulsion is applied and exposed to UV light, open spaces in the mesh allow ink passage. The substrate, often fabric, is supported on a pallet, coated for protection. Different materials, including fabric, paper, plastic, wood, and metal, can be screen printed using various inks. The process is widely used in textile printing, marketing, and advertising, offering versatility and vibrant outcomes.

Can You Screen Print On Plastics?

Plastics are a common material used in many products, from water bottles to phone cases. And when it comes to customization and branding, screen printing is often the go-to method for achieving a high-quality, long-lasting design. But can you screen print on plastics?

The short answer is yes, you can screen print on plastics. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind before attempting this process.

Firstly, not all plastics are created equal. Some plastics have a smooth surface that may be difficult for ink to adhere to, while others may have a textured or uneven surface that could affect the clarity of the printed design. It’s important to test different types of plastic beforehand to see which ones work best with your chosen ink and process.

Next, it’s crucial to properly prepare the surface of the plastic before screen printing. This includes cleaning and possibly treating the surface with a primer or adhesion promoter to ensure that the ink will adhere properly. If the plastic has any oils or residue on it, this can also affect how well the ink adheres and may result in a design that easily chips or peels off.

In addition, when screen printing on plastics, you’ll need to use specialized inks that are designed specifically for this purpose. These inks often contain additives that help with adhesion and durability on plastic surfaces. Make sure to carefully read the instructions and recommendations for use of these inks to achieve the best results.

Printing On Various Forms of Plastic

Printing on various plastic-based materials such as PVC, polycarbonate, and polyethylene requires specialized inks and printing techniques. The most common method is to use solvent-based or UV-curable inks with screen printing, providing durability for outdoor applications.

We Can Answer All Your Questions About How Screen Printing Works

At Techprint, we have been at the forefront of the screen printing industry since 1974. Give us a call at 800-225-2538 if you need more information on screen printing materials or have questions about our screen printing capabilities. Our experienced professionals specialize in delivering custom, high-quality specialty printed graphics and electronic products. From designing and manufacturing custom labels to creating graphic overlays, membrane switches, keyboards, and printed electronic products, we bring innovation and expertise to every project. Contact us to embark on a journey of bespoke printing solutions tailored to your unique needs.

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