screen printed tshirt example Homer

Mixing Screen Printing Techniques for Effect and Budget


We were contacted about a potential embroidery or screen printing job by a Home Depot store near Tacoma, WA.  The store had won a regional sales award and the manager was was looking for a way to recognize and reward its 150+ employees when the store was to be visited by senior executives.

We started off talking about embroidered sports rally towels, but quickly agreed that those would be too costly.  Screen printed t-shirts were going to be a more cost-effective option.  We were sent this image full color image of Homerof Home Depot’s Homer character.  This presented its own challenge because of the number of colors.  How many colors do you see in the image?  We spotted eight — white, black, orange, flesh, purple, green, yellow, and red.  Our automatic carousel screen print press has eight slots.  Perfect fit, right?

Not really.  While the carousel has eight arms that can hold eight trays with shirts, the “stations” at which those trays stop on the carousel as it spins cannot all print ink.  In order to print multiple colors of ink on a garment, the garment must pass under a flash heater for about 4 seconds before the next color is printed.  The flash heater cures the ink so that the next color of wet ink can be printed atop the previous color without smearing.  There must be at least one flash heater in use to make the job work at all, and there should be at least two flash heaters put into use in order to print the job efficiently.

We next talked about printing the job as a four color process printing job. That would involve taking the image through a four color separation process and then printing with four inks that blend together to create a full array of colors.  This would have worked, except that the $250 color separation fee brought the project over the store’s budget.

So then we decided that we could print the job as a three color spot printing job if we looked at the job as a half-tone grayscale job and provided accent colors that highlighted the company’s trademark colors of white and orange.  We added some text requested by the store manager that recognized the store’s achievement….and….

…Presto!  Another happy customer!Screen printed t-shirt - spot printing combined with half-tone printing

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