Screen Printing Machine

Screen Printing Pros & Cons

When most people think of screen printing, they immediately think of t-shirts.  This common misconception leads people to the assumtion that with today's technological advances in digital printing, everyone's needs can be met with the crisp, bold colors of digitial prints.  While we agree that digital prints are ideed awesome for certain applications, this assumption does not account for the very real benefits and advantages that screen printing has over digital in many applications.  Here are some things to know about screen printing that may help you decide how to best meet your needs.

 Advantages:

-Not just for t-shirts!  We screen print on pretty much any material that can be digitally printed, and then some. Vinyl, poly plastic and metal are the most common.  With our factory-direct relationship with 3M, we have access to more materials at a better price than anyone else.

-Superior durability.  Screen printing deposits as much as 10 times more ink on the material than a digital print, which translates into greater durability, longer-term color vibrancy, and better value. When printing on poly plastic signs (think ski resort signs, or municipal outdoor signs), we use inks that actually bite into the plastic, resulting in a print that is super durable, will not scratch off, and is extremely fade resistant. If you need graphics and/or signs that are exposed to harsh conditions or for long-term use, screen printing is definitely the way to go.

-Better color options.  With screen printing, the inks are mixed by hand, so exact color matches can be achieved with any color.  Digital printing relies on "profiles" which vary by printer and can often only get close to a desired color match.  Screen printing also offers translucent colors, which allow reflective materials (such as 3M Scotchlite) to exhibit highly visible colors at night when exposed to a light source.  Check out the photos of some of the police vehicles in the "Fleet Vehicles" section of our website to see what this is all about.

-Screen printed liquid laminate outperforms solid laminate.  Any printed material that will be exposed to the elements will need some kind of UV protection to maintain vivid colors for as long as possible.  Adhesive vinyl laminate is most often applied to digital prints, whereas a liquid UV clear coat is applied to screen printed materials.  The liquid clear coat is a permanent layer of protection that will not peel, fade or change color for much longer than adhesive solid laminates, which can fail in a much shorter time frame.  Liquid clear coats are also applied more quickly and less expensively, particularly on long runs.

-Long runs=lower cost, faster production.  Nothing matches the ink deposit, precision, speed and flexibility with materials that you can get with screen printing.  The result is that the longer the run, the more screen printing outperforms digital printing in terms of speed of production and unit cost.  With digital printing, the unit price is generally the same whether the run is for 10 or 10,000, and the longer the run, the farther it falls behind screen printing in speed of production and cost per unit.  So if you need 10,000 hard hat decals, we can produce them faster, cheaper, and deliver you a superior product than digitally-printed decals.

-Wide applicability.  Screen printing is not just for t-shirts.  We produce a wide range of products for a large variety of businesses and industries, from parking and license plate decals to signage on metal and poly to large format vehicle graphics on semi-truck trailers and cabs.  Check out the other pages of our site to see the range of products we can deliver.

Disadvantages:

-Photo quality images.  Screen printing can produce up to 6-color images and half-tones with high quality and precision, and you would be surprised how close to digital-quality it can get (particularly if it will be viewed at a distance), but it cannot produce the kind of detailed multi-color, picture-quality images that digital printing can produce.  If that is what you want, we can deliver that too.

-Higher pre-production cost and time.  Prior to screen production, a "positive" of the art files must be made for each color and the screens are then prepared for printing.  Therefore, for small, one-time jobs, the pre-production costs of screen printing probably make it less cost-effective than digital printing.  However, the more it involves repeat business over time, the greater the scales tilt in favor of screen printing.

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