Screen Printing Ink
Screen printing is probably the most versatile of the printing techniques, as it can place relatively heavy deposits of ink onto practically any type of surface with few limitations on the size and shape of the object being printed. The ability to print variable thicknesses of ink with a high quantity of pigment allows for brilliant colors, back lighting effects, and durable products which are able to withstand harsh outdoor weather conditions or laundering.
Unlike many other printing methods, substrates for screen printing can include all types of plastics, fabrics, metals, papers, as well as exotic substrates such as leather, masonite, glass, ceramics, wood, and electronic circuit boards. While screen printing does compete with other printing techniques for some products (especially for small paper substrate products), it has a specialized market niche for many graphic art materials and textile printing applications. Comparatively low equipment investment costs allow for low-cost short production runs.
Screen printing uses a porous mesh screen with an ink-resistant image on its surface as a template to transfer ink to substrates. The type of material used to make a screen depends on the substrate being used as well as the desired appearance of the product. Screen preparation begins by tightly stretching and securing the material in a rigid frame so that it is level and smooth. Non-image areas of the screen must be blocked and image areas open to allow ink to pass through to the substrate. Ink categories include traditional solvent-based inks (which include enamels), ultraviolet (UV)-curable inks, water-based inks, and plastisols (for textile printing).