Q:What is screen printing?
A:Screen printing is a process though which ink is mechanically applied to a substrate via the use of a screen and squeegee. In its basic form, screen-printing is a very simple process. Over time rather sophisticated software, machines and techniques where developed and we now use those to produce our product. Screen-printing can be used to "decorate" many different substrates from ancient eastern wall hangings to Andy Warhol's fine art to signs, billboards, computer circuit boards and more. At ASAP, we print, almost exclusively, custom designed t-shirts.
Q:What is spot-color?
A:Spot-Color is the term used to describe separation and printing with one ink color for every color in the design. Each color that makes up the composite image will be printed using a separate screen.
Q:What is 4-color process?
A:4-color process is a more advanced separation and printing technique that uses 4 colors of transparent ink to produce the colors from the original design. The four colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK ( CMYK ), are printed as halftones that interact with each other and the white background of the shirt to create color and tonal values. A wide spectrum of colors can be represented but some colors are impossible to produce.
4-color process is used mostly for photographic or digitally created designs because many shades and colors can be created with only four screens. High screen counts and screen frequencies are required to create the tiny halftone dots.
One drawback to 4-color process is that the garment must be white.
Q:What is simulated process?
A:Simulated Process is another advanced technique that uses halftones of a few ink colors to represent the colors in the original design. This process differs from 4-color process in that the inks are solid opaque colors usually printed on dark colored shirts. Because the shirt colors are normally dark, simulated process generally requires the use of an underbase.
When working with simulated process, we start with a design created digitaly or one that is scanned into the computer. The image can range from something that is photo-realistic to a line drawing or illustration. Once in the computer at the correct size and resolution, we process the design through a special program that automates the difficult separation process. Simulated process requires relatively high mesh counts and screen frequencies. Depending on the design, 3 to 9 or more ink colors may be needed to accurately reproduce all subtle color variations.
Q:What are Half tones?
Halftones are a pattern of tiny dots that can simulate different shades of color using varing percentages of a single ink. Visually, halftones create the illusion of a continuous tone image by using spots of varying size and density to represent darker or lighter color values.
Halftones work by fooling the eye into seeing the combination of the ink color and the color of the shirt they are printed on. When seen from a distance, the colors blend together and the dots merge with the background color of the shirt. If you look closely at or magnify the print, the separate dots are quite clear. You can see good examples of halftones if you magnify a picture in a magazine or a print from a color printer or even if you look closely at your TV screen. All these are made up of tiny dots.
Q:What is an underbase?
A: An underbase is a layer of ink, usually white, that is printed under the other ink colors when printing dark garments. When printing most colors on dark garments the color of the shirt will show through the ink slightly. For instance, yellow ink printed directly on a royal blue shirt will look very green. To prevent this, a thin layer of white ink is printed, then "flash" dried, and the yellow is printed on top. This gives the top colors a good neutral base and reduces or eliminates the shirt color showing through.
Q:What is flashing or flash drying/curing?
A:Flash curing is the process of "gelling" a layer of ink with a spot heating unit while still on the press. To "gel" the ink layer the temperature is raised to the point where the ink begins to dry but is not completely cured. The ink will be dry to the touch and will form a solid surface to print additional colors on. When the garment is run through the drier the flashed layer will cure completely and bond to the ink layers on top to form a solid film.