How To Silk Screen T-Shirts

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Team Gopher, Nov 24, 2004.

  1. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

    How to silk screen t-shirts

    If you are looking for a way to make inexpensive t-shirts or outdoor lawn signs for your business, consider silk screening. It’s not that difficult and can be quite fun.

    This project started off with a Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Kit which can be found at most art and craft stores or online for around $40.00 or less. It contains a reusable 11”x14” frame with screen, fabric & graphic squeegees, screen filler, drawing fluid, photo emulsion & sensitizer, instruction book, acrylic screen printing ink and fabric screen printing ink. A few t-shirts were purchased, also from a local art and craft store for about $5.00 each.

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    After preparing the logo in the desired size, it was printed out on a clear transparency sheet with a laser printer.

    The edges of the screen were taped to allow for an easier cleanup when finished.

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    The proper amount of light sensitive emulsion and sensitizer was mixed.

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    After mixing, it was spread evenly across the screen. Make sure that it is spread as thin as possible

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    The squeegee was used on both sides to remove any dripping excess.

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    The screen was then placed in a very dark room and let dry for at least a half hour. A fan was used to speed the process.

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    After the screen light sensitive emulsion was dried, it was placed on a table with the logo transparency above it and on top, a piece of glass 11”x18”, the same size as the frame, to hold the transparency down flat. A foot above the screen hung a high intensity light to burn the logo image into the screen. The amount of time needed to burn the image into the screen depends on the wattage rating of the bulb you are using. Notice in the photo, the logo is placed upside down or reversed as you can see by trying to read the logo text. It’s done like that because the screen is being burned on the bottom side.

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    The screen is then taken to a sink where a sprayer and brush are used to clean out the emulsion from where the design is. You may have to brush quite hard to remove the emulsion but it must be removed in order to later let the ink pass through. As you do this, you will begin to see your logo appear.

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    When you are finished, you should be able to hold the screen up to a light and see through the screen where the emulsion has been cleared. Then place the screen over your shirt and pour the ink over it. The ink is pretty thick.

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    Now spread the ink across the screen with your squeegee. You may want to practice this a few times with paper below the screen before you start using shirts, just to make sure you are getting the desired amount of ink through.

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    In this photo you can see a close up of the inked screen with the logo clearly visible in the screen.

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    Let your shirts dry a bit on your floor.

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    Later set the ink as the manufacturer recommends with an iron and a towel.

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    Here is a final close up of the image.

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    Now you can clean your screen to use it in the future for other projects or only clean off the ink to reuse it later when you need more shirts. This process could also help you make some fantastic lawn signs. We hope this article helps. If you make your own shirts, please send us some of your pictures!
     
  2. Slcareco

    Slcareco LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 682

    Whats the kit called and where can I get it? And How much?
     
  3. Slcareco

    Slcareco LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 682

    oops nvm but neway how does it exactly work, just get like a blank white t-shirt have my logo printed out of transparent paper? (like tissue paper) ?
     
  4. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    Wow Team G!! What a great post and information! Thanks.
     
  5. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,449

    great ideas and info. i always wanted to try that. but i'm still confused onhow the ink only goes comes out on the desired design?? when your using the light to burn it, is the design undeath burning away?
     
  6. twins_lawn_care

    twins_lawn_care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 932

    Hey FGA,
    I worked (still do part time) as a silk screen printer, so I'll try and help out. When you "bake" the screen with the light, it activates and hardens the emulsion you spread onto the screen. Whatever is blocked by your printout, is not "baked" and therefore washes away. The darker, or more opaque your transparency, the better, as it blocks more light. SO a recommendation doing it this way is to set your printed on heavy ink if possible.
    great post though Gopher! Years ago, we'd print large custom jobs this way, just not on shirts. I may have to give it a try.
     
  7. Metro Lawn

    Metro Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,111

    Not to bust any bubbles or anything, but I pay about $5 per shirt printed on both sides done by a screen print shop. I don't see any savings here.
     
  8. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Great post!
    How about a link on where to get the kit?

    Mac
     
  9. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,449

  10. lqmustang

    lqmustang LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 620

    Way back when in my school days we did this as an art project. Forgot all about it until it was brought up here. Back then we had to cut the design into some sort of membrane that covered the screen. I might have to give that a shot as another thing to do this winter. Seems the process has got alot easier.
     

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