The Art of Printing: Printing

Welcome to Printing where you will learn about “Flat-Bed Screen Printing”, “Rotary Screen Printing”, “Developing the Screen”, “Engraved Roller Printing”, and “Digital Ink Jet Printing.”

Flatbed Screen Printing

Modern flatbed screen printing is an automated version of the older hand-operated silkscreen printing. Individual screens are made for each color and design motif. Flat screens print a finite area and not a continuous pattern. An advantage of this system is that it allows several strokes of the squeegee on each screen, to apply large amounts of print paste.

Rotary Screen Printing

Rotary screen printing machines use screens shaped into a roll, which allows continuous printing of patterns in the length direction. The basic operation is similar to flatbed screen printing. Both screen printing systems have a metering system to control feeding of the dye paste into the printing mechanism, a rotating blanket to which the fabric is “tacked” to prevent length and width distortion, the print head, a dryer, and fixation equipment.

Developing the Screen

The process of putting designs to be printed on both rotary and flat screens is known as “screen engraving.” The process begins with the creation of a print design. Once the design is finalized, a textile artist separates the design into its individual colors. The design for each color is then placed onto a separate screen.

Engraved Roller Printing

Engraved roller printing is a continuous printing process developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Until the development of rotary screen printing, it was the only continuous fabric printing technique available. In this method, a heavy copper cylinder is engraved with the print design. Copper is soft, so once the roller is engraved with the print design, it is electroplated with chrome for durability.

Digital Inkjet Printing

From a technical standpoint, digital inkjet printers for textiles are identical to the inkjet printers used with desktop computers. To accommodate fabrics, these machines range from 60 to 84 inches wide. Once programmed, the digital inkjet printer applies the pattern to the substrate. Digital printing offers tremendous design capabilities, such as photographic image quality and the ability to change from one design to another without any waste of printed fabric.

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