Screen printing, or as it also known silk screening is a printing technique which is well matched for surfaces that are relatively flat. The core of the screen print process involves a fine mesh, or screen, which is stretched very tightly around an unyielding frame. Any area that is not to be printed, will be masked out on this screen or mesh. To create the print, the framed screen is positioned over the item to be printed along with a splodge of thick ink.
The ink is pressed through the screen. The masked areas will prevent any ink from going through. The areas free from masking will allow the ink to flow through and imprint on the material. Finally, the item will go through a heat process which ensures that the ink dries quickly and that the materials can then be stacked or packaged. If the ink has cured properly onto the material, the ink will remain on the printed material and will not smear or move even under insensitive conditions.
If you require more colours onto your final creation, then the above process is repeated with different screens. For instance, a design that requires three different colours, will have three different screens. More modern systems will have fully automatic presses that process quickly and don't require manual labour, other than for the actual setting up and supervision.
Today inks such as metallics, dayglo, mirror, glitter varnishes and many other special effects can be used to create your desired effect.
There are different ways that screens can be masked. The easiest is to apply a masking fluid onto the screen, which is most suitable for simple colour graphics but is not very effective when one wishes to print complex prints. For multi-colour printing, printers nowadays use photosensitive emulsions to create the mask area. A design will be created on clear plastic, then a photosensitive coating is applied to the full surface of the screen and dried. The plastic film is positioned onto the dry screen and then exposed to light. The exposed area is washed off with water and the screen is then ready for printing.