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Standardization Secrets for Screen Printing

(June 2013) posted on Wed Jul 03, 2013

Stand back and see what you can do to organize your shop processes.


By Thomas Trimingham

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A final note on ink standardization is that screen printers who have been around for a long time tend to build quite an ink inventory, and it is unlikely that they will be quick to throw away inks that are mixed. In a short period of time after implementing a stock inkset, even a printer who has a big inventory can eliminate a large amount of ink and free up space that hasn’t been available for screens or other items. A good way to do this is to mark all the inks with a date of their last use and then put hash mark every time they are used after this date. If the ink doesn’t get a mark after six months, it can be put on the recycle list.

Combining tests to advance quality
The true power of standardization in several areas of a company can be seen when they are then leveraged together to produce results that can lift the simple printer to the next level. A screen printer who is willing to get a clear handle on the halftone screen-printing process can then combine these results with a standard ink list to create an art guide that displays how the inks can be stretched and combined to produce as many colors as possible using simulated processes. This guide will allow for a new level of detail and vibrant color reproduction with the lightest print possible on dark garments.

The original gradient test can be printed with stock inks on a dark background with and without an underbase to display the colors that will be produced through a higher level of separation (Figure 6). Once this guide is created, a skilled separation artist can recreate very complex separations for the printer with a high success rate on press because they already know what colors they will get when they execute the final print. Without this process guide, the separations present somewhat of a guess as to how they will come out and the redo rate on final separations, including costly press downtime while the printer waits for revised screens. Only when both areas of standardization are achieved can the real benefit of this process guide be realized and used to its greatest extent.

Once the standards of any of the screen-printing process have been refined to produce the best possible quality, the efficiency and profitability of production will naturally increase.


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