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Standardizing Separations

(October 2010) posted on Tue Sep 21, 2010

Steps a screen printer can take to standardize production to increase consistency so that time is saved and press set ups can go quickly

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By Thomas Trimingham

Start the process immediately after artwork is dropped off. The first step in the check is to do a quick artwork review looking specifically at these areas: resolution, edge quality, color values, overall complexity, and specific trouble areas. One critical point is to not review the art until the garment colors and order volumes have been established. The last thing you want to do is to spend time reviewing a complex design and then find out that it is supposed to be printed on only two shirts. Knowing the garment colors that are required prior to the review will also give a far more accurate picture of what the difficulties might be and if the shirt color itself can be used in the separation process.

Review the checklist
It is a good rule of thumb that the final output resolution should be multiplied by three to give a good minimum for the file size. This means that if the file is to be output at a 55-dpi halftone, then a minimum of 200 dpi should be a good file resolution (55 x 3 = 165). Many printers will use a standard of 300 dpi for their file sizes. While this can certainly provide enough information it is common for a full size 14 x 14-in. design with a lot of layers and effects can really bog down the computer. A good compromise is to go with 250 dpi. Even a drop of just 50 dpi can equal thousands of dots and make a file run twice as fast without affecting the final printout.

Edge quality This attribute can be a function of resolution but it is actually more an issue of image development and conversion. When a file is created in vector software and then converted into a pixel or raster-based file, its edges are then turned from lines to edges of pixels. How well these pixels align to create the edges in the design can be defined as the edge quality of the design. A file with good edge quality will have clear areas of contrast, and one with poor edge quality will have blurry edges (Figure 1).


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