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Separations in Screen Printing for Variable Data

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 21, 2011

Trimingham explores techniques that allow printers to satisfy different clients with the same designs.


By Thomas Trimingham

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In the example design, the banner that is used for the main design has a flag in the middle with type that has a custom envelope forcing it into the shape that arches over the top (Figure 2). By using a vector-based software program like CorelDRAW, it is possible to create an envelope shape with live text that can be edited easily for multiple names and then the whole design can be changed quickly without making a time-consuming revision. The way to then separate this artwork into a variable-data print is to stack name drops above each other on the screen and then rotate others so they fit several up on each name drop screen (Figure 3). This works as a name drop that overlaps some of the design elements because the trap color is black ink and won’t show when printing over the top of other colors, as long as ink deposits underneath are not very thick.

An important consideration on all variable-data printing is to thin out the accent colors when overlaying trap colors. Whenever possible, it is ideal to use a chino base or other thin-ink base that will allow the ink to soak into the garment to give the best final result to the overprinted areas. The drawback is that opacity can be compromised. Make certain colors are opaque enough to block shirt colors when working with dark garments.

Working with stencil designs
Stencil design relates to the type of personalized print that is overprinting on top of a texture, picture, or graphic and it has the type knocked out so that the picture shows through the type. A typical design may have a shape or some sort of area around the personalized name that will cover over some of the texture and create the illusion that the design is a custom piece created just for that client (Figure 4).


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