Screen Printed VS Digital Print
Screen Printed VS Digital Print
What are the main differences between screen-printing and digital printing. Many years ago the main printing process was screen-printing or often known as silk screen printing. The screen printing process involves porous screen or mesh that is generally put into a timber frame similar to a painting that you would hang on a wall. The size of the frame is limited due to the film size and therefore it is generally not practical to make screens bigger than 1.5 metres x 1.0 metres. The process starts with a film similar to that used when photos are developed. A special light reactive emulsion is used in the process. The screen used is a little like a piece of fly screen. The holes in the screen that you do not want paint to go through will fill with a chemical and will harden. For example if you want your logo screen printed, the screen will have holes where your logo is located. The rest of the screen will have the holes blocked with the photographic emulsion. The screen is then place on the piece of fabric you want printed. Paint is then poured onto the screen and applied by swiping a flat plastic blade across the screen. The paint will go through the holes and onto the fabric. Excess paint will stay in the screen and can be used on the next piece of fabric.
If your logo or graphics you are printing is 4 colours, then 4 individual screens need to be made. Each screen has the holes in a different position. It is important to overlay all the screens in the exact same position so as the image can be built one layer at a time.
Screen-printing is very economical for when large volumes of printing is required. After the screen is made the process of printing is both fast and cheap. Generally, screen-printing is not worthwhile for small volumes. Especially when there are several colours are required. When screen printing you may want check a Pantone color Chart to make sure the paint you are using will deliver the required results.
The ink or paint used in screen-printing once applied to the surface will have a full textured look and colours a generally very vibrant. As the paint is applied thickly, screen printed item generally will last for a long time and weather conditions well and resist fading for a reasonable period. Although this will also depend on the quality of ink or paint used and what anti-fading agents have been added.
Digital printing over recent years has revolutionized the printing process. Ink jets spray ink either directly onto the surface of the medium used or in some process onto a special transfer paper first and then onto the fabric by applying heat. There are many high quality digital printers on the market such as HP & Roland.
The type of digital printing method used will depend on the medium you are using. For example if you are printing on a 3×3 folding marquee or folding gazebo roof the type of fabric used will limit the printing method. If the roof is made of PVC, then the ink must be applied from the digital printer directly onto the surface of the PVC. As with all digital printers full photographic artwork can be reproduced. In this method of applying directly onto the PVC, the ink is sitting on the surface of the PVC. After drying it is still relatively easy to scratch the ink off. A second process is recommended where the printed PVC is passed through a second machine that applies a clear lacquer on top of the printed PVC. Once dried, this will form a hard clear coat and will make it far more scratch resistant.
Printing on polyester fabrics will require a different digital printing process. The best process is called heat sublimating or heat transfer digital printing. In this process the artwork is printed directly onto a special transfer paper. The polyester fabric will generally first be put through a heat machine at 200 degrees Celsius to preshrink the fabric. The next step is to align the fabric and printed paper on top of each other and then again passed through the heat press at 200 degrees. This ink is infused onto the surface of the polyester and also some ink will pass into the fibers. After printed, the ink cannot be scratched off making it a very durable product.
For digitally printing feather style banners, another digital printing process is recommended. Similar to printing directly onto PVC, the ink is sprayed onto the banner fabric. As the banner fabric is relatively thin, the ink will penetrate through the fabric. The fabric will then be heated making the ink colour-fast.
5 Reasons to use screen printing
1) Economical for large volume printing
2) High resistant to fading
4) Long life
5 Reasons to use Digital printing
1) Economical for low volume or one off printing
2) Photographic quality
3) Fast production speed
4) Full colour graphics
5) Fade resistant and colour fast