Understanding Screen Printing
Screen printing was one of the first methods for getting images onto things. The way screen printing works is ink or some other liquid medium is pushed through a screen that only allows the ink through places in a template. The designs that will be printed are dependent upon the stencil openings.
The Chinese first used screen printing more than two thousand years ago. The screens were made of human hair stretched over frames that would allow ink to flow through. The wooden frames would also have leaves attaches to them in various shapes and sizes that would form a stencil. As such, this came to be known as the first ever screen printing application. Consequently, the Japanese decided to take the idea that they Chinese came up with and make it more advanced. The Japanese made their screens from silk. They used various lacquers for the stencils. This method of screen printing came to be known as silk screen printing or silk screening.
Though screen printing existed for a number of years, Samuel Simon of Manchester England was actually the first person to have the industrial screen printing process patented in 1907. Right around the time of World War I, the Selectasine process was invented by John Pilsworth. This method allowed multiple colors to be screened at the same time. Various sections of the screen were covered for the various ink colors, hence one having a multi-colored design. The Selectasine technique became popular for printing large quantities of posters and signs.
Silk screening has further advanced over the years due to advances in things like polymer meshes. The fundamental technique is still the same; however with the new technological advancements of today's world, screen printing is not what it used to be when Samuel Simon had it patented in 1907.
Despite the type of screen printing machine that you decide on using, some equipment are essential components of the screen printing machine and cannot be left off. The screen and stencil are the most important as these help to determine the image and design output. It makes reference to the photosensitive material, frame and mesh on which the image is imprinted. You also must have the Squeegee (which is the rubber that is held in the firm handle), ink, the substrate (which is the surface on which the image will be created) and the machine base (this keeps the substrate fastened and enables the screen to print on it).
You will need to choose equipment that will allow you to complete the projects you plan to work on. There are all sorts of variations of equipment for shirts, posters or even paper. You will be able to perform screen printing on almost anything once you learn the basics, but do be sure to read about the advantages and disadvantages of screen printing before you proceed.