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What Could Happen to Screen Printing

(August 2011) posted on Tue Jul 26, 2011

Screen Printing magazine will have lots to talk about for a very long time.


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By Gail Flower

It has been two years now since I’ve served as editor on Screen Printing magazine, and over this space of time my assessment as to where the industry is going has changed quite a bit for the better. In the beginning I heard lots of doom and gloom about how screen printing would take a backseat to inkjet printing. Screen printing would remain in the hands of thick-film printers who did artistic fabrics, stylized T-shirts, sports printwear, and banners or outdoor signs, many experts asserted. Inkjet would reign supreme.

I’m here to tell you that after two years, in my estimation, screen printing will do a lot better than that. In the June/July 2011 issue of Screen Printing, I talked to Johnny Shell, VP of technical services at SGIA, before interviewing nine major direct-to-garment printers to ask them about the industry in general. Here’s what Johnny said.

“DTG was a tough nut to crack in the early days, but technology and equipment developments make it a viable option today when used properly and as recommended by the manufacturer. Many shops have integrated it with their capabilities to capture low-volume work that, heretofore, was very difficult for a garment screen print shop to accommodate. However, more traditional screen print shops are taking a second look at DTG, given the material and equipment advancements that have been achieved. It’s much easier to print dark garments now because the white ink is better and automatic pretreat units are deducing errors that were common when using manual application methods like a power sprayer. And there are many, many users who keep their machines running, perform the routine maintenance, and live very happy and are successful.”

In Mike Beckman’s article in June/July SP, you can see the trends and innovations taking place. Inks, fabrics, and printing processes are changing in response to consumer trends. PVC-free inks and increased use of polyester fabrics are affecting garment screen printing. The demand for something different and unique has resulted in heat transfer on specialty ink, heat sealing with transfer paper, discharge printing, water-based effects, and simulated embroidery.

Speaking from my own experience, I bought a wonderful African print on a cotton sweater wrap last month, and it said, “specialty art screen printed” and cost me much more than I could afford. Art is in.

Ryan Moor from Ryonet Corp. wrote an article in the April/May issue about printing an entire ad campaign for Nike, “Prepare for Combat.” He talked about taking on large jobs featuring high-profile athletes and making a profit by stepping outside the world of T-shirts into a national ad campaign that encompassed graphics screen printing, digital photography, digital printing and evidentially garment screen printing.

Ryan has had lots of success in innovating. We’ve decided to add Ryan Moor to the Advisory Board for Screen Printing magazine, so you will hear from him more often. Screen Printing magazine will have lots to talk about for a very long time. The technology may change. There will be more industrial applications. Art and screen printing may push new fashion trends, as in Ed Branigan’s article in the August/September issue. But we’re here to stay and we’ve got lots to say. We will talk about inkjet printing too, of course. It has been a rewarding two years so far and I expect it will continue to be so.


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