What is CMYK?
How do you do this in screen printing?
Is it the same as 4 colour printing?
Think back to school when you were painting and used blue and yellow to get green, that is the theory of the whole process. It is used all over the place and you will see the little symbol on things you use every day!
I don’t want you to rely on pictures too much because your screen or printer will subtly alter these colours. But have a look at this picture from Wiki to get an idea, yes basically it is just like school blue, red and yellow.
Now these colours can be combined to get all the rest of the spectrum
Now as you no doubt remember from school, combining them does give a murky black which is no good for our purposes which is why we have to have black. Saves ink as well.
So that is the inks but how does it work. Well you put the 4 colours onto the substrate (thing you are printing on) in dots and when the dots are on top of each other you get the various colours and your picture.
Now remember the way screen printing works, the ink is pushed through the mesh in dots! The finer the mesh the closer together the dots are so you can’t see the background colour.
Basically your brain has the illusion into thinking you see a solid colour when in fact what you see is lots of dots. All screen printing works on that principle.
The ink is normally applied in that colour order Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black although that can vary with some printers.
There is actually a principle behind the process called “subtractive”. Because you are printing on white, you are subtracting, with the inks, the amount of white(brightness) your eye sees. Now if you don’t fill in all the dots you get to see more white and that gives you paler colours, which can also be mixed and matched to get the full range. This bit is called “half tones”.
Honestly the principle is as simple as that, any water colour artist would see it immediately although they may not know what it is called.
So that is the theory, 4 inks printed in dots, here is an early example from 1902
Now how do you do this?
You have to separate your final image artwork into its CMYK elements.
If you check Photoshop all the colours show what percentage of these colours comprise the colour you see.
Photoshop automatically separates the CMYK colors into channels. Just open the channels palette and select “split channels” from the palettes flyout panel options. You will get four grayscale files, one for each channel. So you need 4 screens that have the required separate colours which when combined will give your final picture.
Be aware, however, that this is NOT how you separate artwork for screen printing. If you are printing the job as a 4 color process on white shirts, all you want are printouts of the separate channels, just print the file as “separations” with a course line screen (35 to 55 lpi) and the following angles – C: 55 degrees, M: 22 degrees, Y: 5 degrees, K: 80 degrees. Not doing this right gives you the Moire effect (it looks blurred). Other angles can be used for example.
There are literally nearly 80,000 videos on the internet describing exactly how to do this and I suggest you watch a few, several times until you feel completely confident you understand the process.
In order for all this to work you need a very high mesh count so you get lots of dots which give your brain the illusion correctly. We have kits with all you need to try this, have a look at http://www.wickedprintingstuff.com/inks_and_additives/plastisol_ink_and_additives/union_inks/trutone_range/wps_uniontrutone_process_printing_pack_P1145.html
The Trutone Process Printing Pack Contents are ;-
- 4 x Aluminium Screens 16 x 20inches 120T
- 4 x Wooden Squeegees with a Hard Square Cut Blade
- 1 x PRPL-2080 Process Yellow 250ml
- 1 x PRPL-3082 Process Magenta 250ml
- 1 x PRPL-5080 Process Cyan 250ml
- 1 x PRPL-8080 Process Black 250ml
This pack contains all of the essentials you need to try out the fantastic Trutone process inks at an affordable price. As ever we are completely happy to give you the benefit of our 30 years of experience so please contact us with any questions.
Here is an example of a finished product, the screens were produced using the Riso QS200.
aDirect To Garment technology
What is DTG?
DTG (Direct To Garment) is an exciting new technology in the garment decoration business. Very similar to an ink jet printer the garment is printed directly using specialist inks. There is a lot of development going on in this area.
“Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing, and inkjet to garment printing, is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. The two key requirements of a DTG printer are a transport mechanism for the garment and specialty inks (inkjet textile inks) that are applied to the textile directly and are absorbed by the fibres.
A primary advantage of DTG printing is the lack of set-up costs and instant turnaround time not associated with traditional garment printing methods such as screen printing. The comparative disadvantage of DTG is equipment maintenance and ink cost. Ink technology developments have significantly improved ink performance and lowered ink cost. Digital printing technologies are non-contact, meaning that media is printed on without hand contact, allowing for a more precise image. This prevents the image distortion that takes place in screen printing” from Wiki
There are several things you should bear in mind if you decide to invest in this area but one we can help you with is the need for a higher spec dryer at a very competitive price. This is because we manufacture our dryers ourselves so you are buying direct from the manufacturer.
The Panther 700L Texitunnel is based on the 700 dryer but with heating elements 50% longer making it about 60% faster than the 700 when in normal use :-
Highly efficient t-shirt dryer suitable for any medium size t-shirt printing company using Plastisol and waterbased printing inks. Good for t-shirts, sweatshirts, working clothes, umbrellas and many more substrates. Ideal tunnel dryer for digital printers including popular DTG printers such as Resolute, Viper DTG, Anajet and Brother
- Suitable for curing (plastisol inks) up to 700 garments per hour
- Suitable for curing air drying waterbased inks up to 700 garments per hour
- Suitable for curing Digitally printers waterbased inks 100 (dark garments per hour, with heavy white) and 120 (light garments)
- For heat cured water based inks 100 – 150 garments per hour
Option of a hot air circulation unit
I want to print light on dark?
I want a soft touch?
What is a discharge ink?
Here at Wicked Printing Stuff we don’t expect you to know everything and we are happy to explain things. Have you checked out our FREE buyers guide there is lots in there for the Rookie, Intermediate and Professional. Please give us a ring and explain your problem and we will help out. Lastly there are our training courses, designed again for both rookie and advanced printers with basic training or advanced courses.
So back to the problem. You want to print a light colour on a dark garment and you want it to feel soft. Now plastisol inks wrap colour AROUND the threads but gives a rubbery feel (also referred to as hand) but is bright. So ideally you want a water based ink. For those of you that have tried this and I can hear you shouting at the back, but I have tried waterbased inks and I just can’t get a good opaque print, that’s why I use plastisol. Well that’s where the discharge inks come in!
For the punk rockers out there, remember how you got that bright green hair, that is right you had to bleach out your own hair colour first so the back ground colour was white, only then the colour would take and be vibrant and striking. It is almost the same in screen printing but we use discharge inks that need curing. The discharge ink actually removes the dye.
First off you have to have the right garment fabric, it has to be 100% cotton and it has to be dyed with a dischargeable dye. So check with the manufacturer. If the garment is a mixture of cotton and polyester only the cotton will discharge. Now that might actually suit you but you would need to do a trial run to make sure you get the effect you want.
So having got the right garment now we need the right ink. There are a lot out there and some are more complicated to use than others.
Water based dischargeable inks are the easiest and most eco friendly ones to use. The process works during curing when the discharge removes the original dye and the ink gives the new colour. To do this you add activator to the ink which ensures you get an intense colour.
At Wicked Printing Stuff we have researched the products extensively and as a consequence we recommend the following ink Unico The ink has been developed to meet the most recent ecological requirements. We also supply the Rutland Best of Brands discharge ink which works with both the Unico and the Union activator. Additionally we offer Union plasticharge which is a great way of using existing plastisol inks you may have and turning them into a discharge ink.
For the discharge process to work, you do need a tunnel dryer (the longer the better) – typically 90-120 seconds dwell time is needed for a good cure. You can also use a heat press which is great for low production. You also need well ventilated premises and printers should read the MSDS and be aware of any health and safety consideration.
We would be delighted to talk you through this if you have any questions, please contact us.
There is always a lot of debate in the industry about the various garment decoration technologies and the latest trends. Many people talk to us about the right choice for them, but as always it is never as straight forward as it might seem and there isnt always a clear cut answer.
It can often feel confusing especially as vendors think they have the right solution for you, so we have put together a quick guide on the main technologies to help you make the right decision for your business. Most of our customers have a blend of meet the needs of their customers.
Full details are here but here is a taster
- Constant new developments
- Great for low volume, photographic multi colour prints
- Generally requires medium to high investment
- Good for online, quick turnaround market
- Consumable cost is high for large volume work
- But you need to understand the process especially for printing onto darks
- Great for low volume personalisation
- Mature market
- Suitable for low production
- I don’t like weeding
- Low investment required to get going
- Not so versatile
- Only really suitable for simple artwork
- Wash ability can be variable
- Great for high volume production
- Very versatile
- Low investment required to get going
- Takes time and experience to get the best results especially multi colour complex prints
- Very cost effective for larger runs
- Many inks to choose from with varying opacity
- Not great for low volume unless considering newer digital screen making technologies
- Perceived to be messy
- Very common and popular in corporate / uniform market place
- Not suitable for all garment types or styles of artwork
- High investment required for high volume production
- Have to keep up with machine developments to get the most benefits (and to be competitive)
Transfer Printing (DIY)
- New Colour Lasers with white toner opening up new possibilities
- Suitable for low production levels
- Great for photographic work and quick turnaround
- Generally requires low to medium investment
- Keep a watch on consumable costs
- Wash ability can be variable
- Some papers self weeding, others not so …
- Lots of choice from multiple vendors
- Many of the transfers are screen printed giving the benefits of screen printing inks
- Good for managing working capital
- Becoming more popular for printers to create their own transfers
- Requires low to medium investment
Digital Screen Makers (DSM) versus Direct to Screen(DTS) / Computer to Screen(CTS) Technologies
- Easier stencil production for screen printers.
- Improve production times
- Improve screen quality
Over the last few years various new pieces of equipment have come into the marketplace promising a revolution in stencil production. We thought we would take time out and look at the different technologies, consider the promises made and give a view about how they work, the pros and the cons, and if these technologies would suit your business.
We are going to look at the
- Digital Screen Makers (DSM) from RISO
- Goccopro 100
- Goccpro QS200
- Direct to Screen or Computer to Screen (DTS or CTS) Systems –
- Exile FREEStyler
- Exile Spyder II system.
There are plenty of other DTS or CTS systems but we are focussing on the most popular in the UK.
The fundamental difference between DSM and DTS (sorry about the use of abbreviations!) is that DSM uses a silicon coated mesh (RISO refer to the Mesh as Media), the DSM machines have a thermal print head which burns off the silicon film leaving the stencil. The DTS systems print directly to a photo sensitive emulsion standard screen printing screen using ink jet or wax head technologies. Hope you are keeping up at the back!
|Digital Screen Makers (RISO Goccopro 100 / QS200)||Direct to Screen (CTS) (Exile FREEStyler / SPYDER II)|
|Creates the stencil without the traditional process of using of screen degreasing, photo sensitive emulsion, dark room, film positives and washout. Simplifying and giving a clean process (which is a big Pro)
Good for quick turnaround low volume printing. Ideal for printers with no previous screen printing experience.
Work like a computer printer so relatively easy to install and implement. It does not need a RIP.
Lower foot print – they do not take much space.
You do not need a huge stock of frames.
|Use proprietary mesh which is expensive and limited in options (currently 4 mesh counts available equivalent to 80T / 72T (Goccopro 100 only) / 48T and 28T). Need to budget £7.00 – £15 per screen not including stretching cost.
Mesh is not as robust as traditional mesh so print runs are limited for 400 or so prints before the mesh starts to break down. Some printers use silicon oil or a mesh hardener to extend life.
Limited stencil versatility e.g. printing plastisol transfer is very tricky as you can’t do much about stencil depth.
Mesh not suited for all solvent inks
After you have printed 9 times out of 10 the mesh goes in the bin. There are some techniques to keep prints but don’t bank on it.
Machines are not maintenance free, thermal heads do need to be kept clean.
Thermal approach is simple and effective however ash can get left in the stencil reducing ink opacity. The remedy is to use a mesh cleaner.
|Ideal for established printers looking to increase throughput and productivity. Targeted at printers using 20 – 30 screens per day. Uses the traditional approach using photo sensitive emulsion, exposing and wash out.
Replaces the need for film positive printing (especially when using inkjet printers) which can be expensive, slow and error prone.
Aids registration as units normally have standard automatic printing registration methods e.g. MHM pin system / M & R Triloc
Produces very high quality stencils which would be very difficult to achieve using traditional film positive process. Resolution from 600 – 2400 dpi, 55 – 60 to 110 lpi depending on the system
Takes advantage of current assets e.g. exposure units, screen printing frames and washout. Existing printers may find this technology easier to embed.
Works with all inks and mesh types.
|Initial purchase price for the bigger units is very high so making DTS cost prohibitive to smaller or mid-market printers.
DTS requires consumables so there is an ongoing running cost Typically ranging from 0.25p to 0.70p depending on chosen system.
More evolution than revolution.
Some DTS systems use inkjet technology which generally speaking does not give the same level of quality of a wax ink based system used in higher end systems
How does it work? Similar to a computer printer, you load the Goccopro 100 with a roll of mesh, you then output the artwork directly to the Goccopro 100 which creates the stencil and automatic cuts the mesh. Take the mesh and stretch it on to a quick stretch frame (there are some different frame options some very innovative), register on your carousel and print. When you have finished you discard the mesh and start again.
What is good about it? Compact, quick, easy to use, the quickest way I have ever made a stencil – 5 minutes in total. Ideal for point of sale applications and very quick, simple, ideal low volume work.
What is not so good about it? Small print width (11.69” wide and up to 31.5” long), only useful for single colour jobs or lose aligned multi-colour work (this is the drawback of having to stretch the screen after the Goccopro 100 creates the stencil). It has limited mesh counts. Printing onto dark garments using the quick stretch screen is challenging, as classic ‘print / flash / print’ steps to build up the ink deposit to be opaque enough is difficult, some of the more robust stretch screens could give a better result – you might need to use a discharge ink. Not suitable for printing plastisol transfers.
The big brother to the Goccopro 100, but works slightly differently. You create a stretched screen first either using a quick stretch frames (there are many options out there) or a self-stretching screen like a Newman frame. You can glue the RISO mesh to a standard aluminium frame, but this is very tricky compared to re-stretching traditional mesh. You load the stretched frame on the bay, select print from your computer and the QS200 will create the stencil. You then register the screen on your carousel and print as per normal. When you have finished you discard the mesh.
What is good about it? Easy to use. Supports frames up to A2 size so works with 23 x 31” screen sizes, you can use it for multi-colour work, and you can use different frame types interchangeably. Good for low production printing. Quick, the fastest I have created an A4 sized stencil from start to finish is around 10 minutes (larger artwork will take longer) including stretching the screen. Ideal for point of sale applications, good low to medium production e.g. 20 – 400 prints. Typical profile would be a DTG or Vinyl / Laser Transfer printer wanting to increase margin, screen printing 50 T Shirts with the same design would be quicker, faster and more profitable than using other technologies.
What is not so good about it? Limited mesh counts, a busy printer will experience head alignment and cleaning issues – some dirt on the print head will ruin the stencil and waste mesh. You don’t achieve high tensions on self-stretch screens, up to 19 ncm (newtons per cm) (but ok for manual printing) if you are lucky compared to 25 ncm on a brand new stretched tradition frame, so you might have to adjust print technique. You would need to use a Newman style frame if using the machine on a fully automatic carousel and use tape to reinforce the mesh. Not suitable for printing plastisol transfers.
FREESTyler Direct to Screen
How does it work? You place an emulsion coated screen on the flat bed of the FREEStyler (it comes with various clamps that came be used to aid registration), you then control how the stencil is printed using RIP software that comes with the system. It replaces the Film Positive printing process, the FREEStyler uses inkjet technology to print the artwork directly on the screen with a quick drying ink which is water soluble. When completed you expose the screen (just like normal) and washout. You don’t need to use a vacuum or glass on your exposure unit.
What is good about it? Designed for the small and midmarket with an appropriate pricing structure, supports frames up to 36” x 26”, (creates stunning stencils Resolution from 600 – 2400 dpi, 55 – 60 lpi) which would be difficult to achieve accurately with film positives printed with an inkjet printer. Opens up a new host of opportunities for the small / midmarket printers creating 30-40 screens per day (probably will do a lot more than that but note that the consumable costs will mount up and the bigger systems might be better choice) likely to have an automatic carousel or a number of manual / semi-automatic carousels. Takes between 3 – 12 minutes to make a screen depending on what settings you are using. Uses a clamp system to enable quick accurate registration. Makes use of existing investments of screens and equipment.
What is not so good about it? There is an ongoing consumable cost for the ink (typical £0.70p per screen), it does not replace the process but complements it so not exactly revolutionary. It is a brand new system so it is a bit too early to know if there are drawbacks.
How does it work? Similar concept to the FREEStyler, you place a coated screen in the SPYDER. The stencil is printed using RIP software and uses prints wax ink which is water soluble. When completed you expose the screen (just like normal) and washout. You don’t need to use a vacuum or glass. The system uses bi-drectional printing and is very fast – approx 1 minute to create the screen mask.
What is good about it? Its quick, creates stunning stencils (it has a 1200 dpi and supports up to 110 lpi). It is targeted and designed for large commercial printers with challenging requirements creating large numbers of screens on a daily basis typically might have 2 or more automatic machines. Ongoing consumable cost is low approx. £0.25p per screen.
What is not so good about it? Reassuringly expensive
They are a number of CTS / DTS systems in the market place e.g. M&R i-Image ST Computer to Screen Imaging System, CST GmbH (more high end solutions for industrial printers rather than the textile market) all of them having their own pros and cons but work on a similar concept. Some solutions have an integrated LED exposure unit which offers some advantages in optimising the process. However in some respects a CTS without exposure unit is a better solution as you would be able to produce screens faster if in a high production environment than with the integrated solution.
Digital Screen Makers and Direct to Screen systems are a very different proposition, it is a little like comparing apples and pears. The key thing is around being clear about your requirements and business objectives before making investments in either technologies. The Digital Screen Makers are niche products which for some printers will open up new opportunities e.g. a DTG printer wanting to provide limited screen printing options. Outside of that niche the traditional approach using a Direct to Screen technology might be the better bet as you will also gain from the versatility of the traditional process. You might actually have a need for both, using the more modern technology at a trade show or exhibition where turn round speeds are vital.
Please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements and we can help you to find the right solution for your needs.