Screen Printing: A Comprehensive Guide to T-Shirt Printing

Are you looking for a fun and creative way to make your own T-shirts? Perhaps you’ve heard of screen printing and have questions about the process. Whatever your motivation, screen printing is an easy and affordable way to customize any plain T-shirt into something meaningful and unique.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about screen printing. Whether you’re looking to start a business or just want to design a cool shirt for yourself, we’ll cover everything from the basics of what screen printing is and how it works, to tips on selecting the right materials and equipment for the job. With our helpful advice, you’ll be on your way to creating amazing T-shirts in no time!

What Is Screen Printing?

Are you looking for a unique way to create your own custom t-shirt designs? Screen printing is an age-old method of printing visuals onto garments that dates back to the 12th century, and today it remains one of the most popular methods of t-shirt printing.

In screen printing, a mesh screen is used to push ink through a stencil with a design cut into it. The ink then gets pushed onto the fabric, creating a clear, vibrant print that won’t fade or crack over time. You can use all kinds of inks like water-based, plastisol and discharge inks, and they can all be used on different types of fabrics like cotton and polyester.

What’s great about screen printing is that you don’t always have to start from scratch — you can always use ready-made screens so that all you have to do is bring in your own design and start the printing process. It’s also relatively quick and easy, making it perfect for large batches of prints.

How to Choose a T-Shirt Printing Method

So, now that you know the basics of t-shirt printing, how do you choose which method is right for you? Depending on your budget and desired results, one method may be better for you than another. Below, we’ll go into detail about the advantages of each type of print to help you decide.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the most common methods of t-shirt printing. It involves using a mesh screen and direct ink transfer to create bright designs with durable colors that last over time. This process works best for high-volume orders with fewer colors and simple graphics, due to the fact that each color requires a separate screen. The screens can be expensive to create, so smaller orders will usually cost more with this method.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is another type of t-shirt printing process that is becoming more popular because it has lower setup costs than screen printing and allows for higher detail in prints as well as full coverage prints. The digital printer prints ink directly onto the fabric using a computer controlled system which eliminates a lot of labor time and labor costs associated with traditional methods like silk screening or embroidery. However, this method is not ideal for large scale production runs because its cost per unit increases exponentially as the order size increases. Additionally, digital prints may not last long over time compared to some other options due to its ability to absorb ink deep into the fibers of the garment instead of sitting just on top like other processes do. Learn more about Embroidery T Shirt Printing here.

Screen Printing Materials and Equipment

So you’re ready to print your first t-shirt design, or take your t-shirt printing business to the next level. You do need some materials and equipment in order to make the process a success. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

Screen Frames

The frame holds the mesh in place, so you will need to get them in standard sizes like 16” x 20”, 18” x 20” and 14” x 17”. Most commonly used frames are made of wood, aluminum or steel. Choose something that is sturdy enough and that fits your budget.

Mesh Count

Mesh count is another factor when choosing frames and mesh for screen printing—it’s an indication of how many strands of thread there are in a square inch of fabric. The lower the number, the larger the openings to let through ink; higher numbers are more suitable for finer detail jobs. Typical mesh counts range from 11T (threads/inch) up to 305T for high detail prints.


The squeegee is one of the most important tools for screen printers — it helps push ink through the screen so it can be printed on fabric. This tool comes in various sizes, but typically measures between 6″ and 14″. Make sure the squeegee you get has a firm rubber blade with a straight edge — this ensures good contact with screens when applied under pressure.

Emulsion Sheets

When it comes to transferring designs onto screens, emulsion sheets are key. These sheets help hold onto artwork until they’re exposed using UV light—ultraviolet rays take away

Preparing the Design for Transfer to the Screen

Now that you have your shirt and your design, it’s time to get them ready for printing. This is where you’ll need to make sure everything lines up properly and that the design is free from any blemishes or extra ink.

First, you’ll need to print out the design on a regular piece of paper. This is so that you can use it as a guide when you’re transferring the image onto your screen. Make sure that the design is printed to the same size as it’ll be on your shirt, or else any mistakes will be magnified once they’re transferred over!

Preparing the Screen

Once your design is printed, carefully place it onto your screen and then cover it with parchment paper and tape. This will help protect the screen and keep any mess from getting on your work surface.

Transferring the Design

The next step is to use a scoop coater (or other tool) to apply very thin layers of emulsion onto both sides of the screen. Once that’s done, put a lightbulb underneath your screen so that all of the emulsion lights up. Then take off the parchment paper and tape from before, exposing the screen beneath — this will allow you to transfer the design from paper onto the emulsion!

The Process of Applying the Ink to the T-Shirts

Bringing all the pieces together, screen printing is a craft that requires careful attention to detail! It’s all about applying layers of ink to the t-shirts, and here’s how that process goes.

Preparing the Ink

The ink must be mixed with a paste to ensure the pigment adheres to your shirt and won’t flake off or wash away easily. The paste helps the ink reach into all of the tiny grooves in your shirt’s fabric and adhere properly. For water-based inks, you may also need to mix it with an adhesive solution for better results. Know more about Full Color Shirt Printing Sg here.

Applying the Ink

Once your ink is mixed, you’re ready to apply it to your t-shirt! This is done using a special device called a ‘screen’. A screen is basically a mesh frame which holds an image or design underneath. As you press against it with a squeegee, ink passes through and creates an imprint on your shirt.


After applying the printed design onto the garment, curing is necessary for longer lasting prints. This involves exposing them to intense heat so that they are dry and won’t wash out or wear off easily. Depending on what kind of ink you’re using, curing may need to be done over an extended period of time or by convection ovens reaching high temperatures.

After Care Tips for Longer Lasting Prints

So, you’ve printed your T-shirt and it looks awesome! To make sure your print stays looking its best for longer, an important step is to ensure the right aftercare.

Follow these tips to extend the life of your print:

Wash Carefully

If you’re using waterbased and discharge inks, be sure to always wash them inside out and no hotter than 40°C. Also avoid using too much detergent—just a small amount is enough. And if you’re using plastisol prints, washing at 30°C will preserve them for longer.

Don’t Iron on Prints

This can melt some of the inks! But if you do want to press out creases from your T-shirt, place a piece of cloth over the design before ironing.

Fold Rather than Hang up

Hanging up wet shirts can cause problems with folds and creases in the fabric, leading to cracking in the ink layer. Whenever possible, fold wet tees rather than hanging them up. This way they’ll dry without distorting the fabric or design.

With proper aftercare, you can guarantee that your T-shirts stay looking great for many years to come!


In summary, screen printing is a fantastic way to add a personal touch to your projects, from t-shirts to posters and back again. The process itself is time-intensive, but with a little practice, you’ll be able to produce high-quality results with ease.

Screen printing can be a rewarding and creative endeavor, and with a little bit of skill and some basic equipment, you can start producing your own prints quickly and easily. So now that you know the basics of screen printing, there’s nothing stopping you from getting started and seeing what amazing projects you can create!

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