Facebook Digg

Services: Apparel & T-Shirt Printing

Get Pricing

Screen Printing Demystified

Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery for your important projects.

How Does Screen Printing Work for my custom apparel?

Understanding how Apparel printing works is key to submitting proper artwork, avoiding delays and
maximizing cost savings.

History :

Screen printing is a form of stenciling that first appeared in a recognizable form in China during the
Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). It was then adapted by other Asian countries like Japan, and was furthered
by creating newer methods. Screen printing was largely introduced to Western Europe from Asia sometime
in the late 18th century, but did not gain large acceptance or use in Europe until silk mesh was more available
for trade from the east and a profitable outlet for the medium discovered.

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to receive
a desired image.

How screen printing works


In the completed screen (E), the attached stencil forms
open areas of mesh that transfer ink (A) or other printable
materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a
sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A fill blade or squeegee (B)
is moved across the screen stencil (D), forcing or pumping ink
through the mesh openings (C) to wet the substrate (F) during
the squeegee stroke. Basically, it is the process of using a
mesh-based stencil to apply ink onto a substrate, whether it
be t-shirts, posters, stickers, vinyl, wood, or other material.

Screen printing is also a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of polyester
or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance. Ink is forced into the mesh openings
by the fill blade or squeegee and onto the printing surface during the squeegee stroke. As the screen rebounds away
from the substrate the ink remains on the substrate. It is also known as silkscreen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing.

One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicolored image or design.

What is the “maximum print area” for my design?

For Adult shirts our standard sizes are as follows:

Full Front: 12” wide; Max - 13.5” x 17”
Full Back: 12” wide; Max - 13.5” x 17”
Left or Right Breast: 4”
Upper Back Neck: 4”
For Youth shirts our standard sizes are as follows:

Full Front: 9”
Full Back: 9”
Left or Right Breast: 3”
Upper Back Neck: 3”

If you have a larger image request we can specialty print up to 20 inch screens. Certain garment limitations
may apply depending on the style you choose.


1. Why should I use the Pressing-Media templates?

The templates our prepress department uses are formatted to our offset presses. Variance of 1/32
of an inch can cause problems in the printing and packaging process. Any file that is not provided
in our templates will be rejected or can be quoted for adjustments.

2. What Design programs do you accept?

Our templates are available in all professional-level desktop publishing software.

File formats we can accept are as follows:

  • Adobe Illustrator (CS - CS5) .ai or layered .pdf
  • Adobe Photoshop (CS - CS5) .eps or layered .pdf
  • QuarkXPress (versions 5 - 8) .qxd or .eps
  • CorelDraw (versions 8 - X5) .cdr or or layered .pdf
  • Adobe InDesign (CS - CS5) .pdf or .eps

Photo image formats:

  • TIFF (.tif)
  • Adobe Photoshop (up to version CS5) (.psd)
  • Photoshop EPS (.eps) - with 8-bit TIFF preview
  • Windows Bitmaps (.bmp)
  • Corel Photo-Paint (.cpt)
  • Photo CD (.pcd)
  • GIF (.gif) accepted, but not recommended for print
  • JPEG (.jpg) accepted, but not recommended for print

3. What are acceptable fonts?

We can accept PostScript (our preferred format), Open Type, or TrueType fonts.

For the Mac, PostScript fonts will be a suitcase/screen file with separate printer files for each weight
(e.g., bold, italic, plain), while TrueType will be a single suitcase. For PC, each TrueType font will be
a single .ttf file, while PostScript fonts consist of two files, a .pfm and pfb.

4. Can I just send you high-res PDFs of my layouts?

If you are experienced designer -YES! However, if you are unsure we prefer to receive the raw design files.
Your files must meet our specs exactly or rejections will occur, this is to ensure success with your project.
A part of our prepress service is to adjust your files to meet our specs if we find minor errors or oversights.
If you supply PDFs, we are extremely limited in what we can fix or modify. If your layouts do not conform
to the templates, are not in the correct template, violate any of our printing specs or require text changes,
we will be unable to make the adjustments and you will have to supply new files.

5. Do I need to supply layout files for every part of my package?

Please provide art files for every component in your order. Most commonly clients forget their files for
on-disc printing, stickers, top-spines and posters.

6. What size do we make our barcode?

Make a white rectangle in an accessible area of your design that face out and measures at least 1.25"
wide by .5" high.

7. What's the difference between process (CMYK) and spot colors (Pantone)?

Process color uses translucent CMYK inks laid on top of one another to create a million hues of color.
Think in the terms of a photograph. All the colors are made out of these 4 primary colors (C)yan(blue)
(M)agenta(red) (Y)ellow and (K) Black. A spot color ink is a specially-mixed formula to make a single ink
of a specific color. Think of a paint store - you pick a color and they mix the formula to achieve the resulting
color. No matter what paint store you would go to it will end up with the same end result in color.
Spot (Pantone) colors can be brighter or more saturated than process colors, or have special properties,
such as metallic inks or fluorescents.

What file formats are acceptable?

Vector art is created using mathematical points, lines, curves and shapes collectively to create an image.
Vector graphics are a necessity in the screen printing industry, because the colors of a print must be separated
in order to be printed. This type of art may also be enlarged to no limit, because the art is based on a
mathematical equation.

Some common Vector art formats are: .ai, .cdr, .eps & .svg

Raster art is created in many different ways, and is the most common of computer image files; the end
result being a picture file that is based on a collection of pixels. Some raster art is very high quality, with several
hundred “dots per inch” or “dpi,” however it has many limitations. Raster art is difficult to separate colors from,
and it may only be enlarged so far, because as the image gets bigger, the pixels become visible distorting the image.

Some common Raster art formats are: .jpg, .gif, .bmp, .png

Please Note: If your art is currently in a Raster format, such as a Photoshop file, you cannot make it Vector
by simply “saving it” with a common vector format extension. The art must be physically color-separated or
re-created in a Vector art program, such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

Continuing on with the Screen Printing process is more information about picking your design, styles of apparel and how these choices affect the costs for manufacturing.

Our 12 color presses can handle the most detailed screening jobs.

Pricing of Apparel is based on four components.

Style - which apparel style you are ordering.
Quantity - the number of garments you order with the same design.
Colors - the number of colors in your design.
Locations - the amount and locations of printing on the garment.

Style of Garments:
Costs of Apparel varies by brand.

Pressing Media carries a wide selection, and sell to you for less than the MSRP.
We use our purchasing power to get you the best possible deal on all blank apparel by
transferring those savings into your project.

We stock American Apparel, Gildan, Alstyle, Apparel, Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, Nike, Ogio,
Big K, Red Kap, and can custom order nearly any brand. Specialty fabrics are also available in hemp,
organic cotton, and bamboo.

The color of shirts and sizes can also affect the cost of the garments.White and Black shirts are generally
less expensive than colored shirts. Also, sizes 2XL and above will increase the costs.


It's simple mathematics:

Price $ = units/setup + screening costs.

As quantities increase, unit costs go down. It's a matter of the set up time and production time divided
into the total quantity that goes on our presses. A larger quantity of single design will have a lower overall
unit cost compared to that of a minimum (12 items) quantity of a single design.


Screen printing requires the creation of a separate screen for every color in your design. Colors are separated,
films are output and then the screens are created. The fewer colors in your design, the fewer films, screens and
expense for producing the design.

Separation types
Color separations for garment printing are generally divided into 3 types:

  • Process color
  • Simulated process
  • Spot color


Each print location on a piece of apparel (i.e. Center Chest, Center back, Lapel. Sleeve, etc.) requires it's own set of films and screens to manufacture. So having multiple print locations on your apparel will be reflected in the price per unit.
Personalization - adding individual names and/or numbers will increase the cost of your shirts as well.

Some methods of lowering the cost of apparel:

** Print on white shirts

** Use fewer design colors:

** Increase the quantity/order size:

** Decrease printing locations

Types of Apparel Printing

Traditional screen printing:

Our 12 color presses can handle the most detailed screening jobs.

Screen-printing is one of the more versatile printing formats using ink blocking stencils and mesh screens to create a design. Specialty effects can be used to fashion various outcomes, and color can also be matched to any pantone. There are also numerous techniques available that can add additional texture to your printed designs. Some of the screen printing we

do include athletic-paint for dry-fit and lycra garments, discharge effects, glitter, foiling, gel, high density, metallic, plastisol, waterbase and so forth.


An embroidered logo boasts a professional and exclusive look for your brand

An embroidered logo boasts a professional and exclusive look for your brand


Traditional embroidery will always be one of the more popular solutions when decorating because of its versatility. Our digitizing department hosts a team of efficient experts, providing our customers with turnaround times

as fast as overnight. Our in-house production workers have years of experience creating unique
embroidered finishing, such as reflective embroidery, motif embroidery, 3D Puff embroidery, gradient blends, photo embroidery, applique and so forth. Encapsulating a brand in an embroidered logo boasts a professional
and exclusive look.


Direct To Garment printing

Direct to garment was developed to fill in the gaps left by the other garment decoration methods. For example, embroidery doesn't allow for photographic detail. Screen printing multiple colors is extremely expensive and requires high minimum order quantities due to the high set-up costs of each image. Heat transfers deliver a thick, rubbery feel to the graphic. Dye sublimation is appropriate only for 100% synthetic fabrics. With direct to garment printing, each image prints digitally (similar to a paper printer), so there is no screen making, no messy clean up, and no color or minimum quantity limitations.

Heat transfer -

Our graphic designers will help you smoothly transition your artwork and logo into transferable films. You can choose from multi-colored films, neon films, glow in the dark films, 3D reflective films and much more. Orders less than 6 pieces, or requests that require many different colors, where the cost to set up multiple screens for traditional printing is greater than the cost of heat transfer printing.

We hope that this blog has increased your understanding of how Apparel printing works, and helps in
submitting proper artwork, to avoid delays and maximize cost savings on your project.

For more information or a custom quote please feel free to contact us at 1-800-511-8171 ext 101 or

Call our sales staff today and print the apparel and merchandise you want:

Toll-Free: 1-800-511-8171

Redeem iSong Card