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Behind The Scenes

Steps to Printing the Perfect Shirt

One of the best ways to bring people together is through t-shirts. At Port City our design artists will help pull together your ideas and translate them onto the perfect shirt! Although it may seem like a simple process, there are a few essential steps involved in creating a t-shirt masterpiece.

Turning Ideas Into Reality

Creating the initial design may be one of the most difficult steps. Many people think they know what they want, but sometimes it doesn’t always come out the way you plan it in your head. For our customers that may already have ideas, we ask that you submit them as .ai or .eps files, since those can be resized to any size, big or small, without affecting the quality of the image. After the final design is agreed upon, the artist will determine how many colors will be involved, as each different color will require a different screen.

Preparing for Printing

In preparing the screens there are three elements involved: the screen, a wooden mount, and emulsion. The emulsion is used to coat the screen so that the ink will not pass through the screen once it's dried. After the screen is coated correctly the design is then “burned” into the screen using UV light. The way the UV light reacts with the emulsion cures it, making it hard. This allows the ink to pass through the design, while the rest of the screen will not be affected. Once this process has been completed the screen is now ready to be used. Keep in mind a new screen has to be created for every color used on the shirt.

Ready for Action

Once the screens are created the screen is attached to a screen printing press. This consists of many different screen clamps and t-shirt palettes. A t-shirt is placed on each palette and the screens are properly aligned with each other so that once the process starts, the print comes out correct on the material. The printer then presses the screen to the shirt and uses a squeegee to push the color ink through the screen design and onto the shirt. This exact process must be repeated with each screen for each color included in the design. Once all colors have been applied to the desired shirt, it will then be moved into a heat dryer for the ink to cure. This will ensure that the design becomes permanent, and allows the shirt to be washed and dried without the ink coming off.

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