Current trends in screen printing
There’s really not much in our day-to-day life that is not influenced by modern day screen-printing. Whether it’s your iPad, computer monitor, bicycle, or the golf shirt you’re wearing – virtually everything we use on a regular basis is screen printed with something: a name; or a logo; or a slogan. Screen-printing has become so prevalent today, that everywhere we look, we see an example. In fact, things that aren’t readily visible to the eye have been screen-printed – like all the electronic products we use at home and at work – each of them has a printed circuit board (PCB) that supports the wiring and connections – and yes, the PCB is screen-printed.
Screen-printing has come a long way, and the so-called “manual” printing processes have long been abandoned. What used to be called “silk screen” printing has been radically transformed into a high-tech industry with state-of-the-art equipment, and automated techniques. Today, the industry flourishes with semi-automatic and fully automatic machinery, and with potential to print on anything and everything. We’re not talking any more about posters, signs, and flags – screen-printing is now common in graphic and design applications that include wood, glass and plastic, with brilliant colours and long lasting quality images.
Screen-printing allows for production versatility; for high-end colour retention; for indoor AND outdoor applications; and for quality results on practically every surface, including textiles. In the industry today, dozens of different presses are used, each for a unique application, purpose, or function: super-large presses for giant graphic applications; multi-colour “rotary” printers for textile printing; and special equipment for printing in tandem with other imaging process like offset or digital ink-jet. And once again, the applications are limitless: from retail packaging to children’s toys, and from sporting goods to fine-art printing (serigraphy).
The advancement in screen-printing technologies has generated production methods that are fully automated (less labor), more cost effective (better bottom-line), and with finished results that deliver customer satisfaction every time. As far as printing surfaces, everything is possible – semi-rigid and rigid substances are printable, as are unconventional shapes and sizes, not to mention exceptional substances like glass, ceramic, or plastic. In terms of inks and varnishes, great gains have been made with new chemicals and solvents currently in use, especially with regard to the dangerous and hazardous compounds no longer permitted.
In the North American marketplace, many progressive companies have been opting for a “total printing solution” for their customers. It’s an opportunity to combine screen-printing, offset, and digital printing under one roof, and to accommodate increasing customer demands. The “total” approach (a trend among offset printers and packaging printers) allows for an in-house production capability that is all-inclusive, and without the need to outsource. Not only does this service capacity satisfy wide-ranging customer needs, it also contributes to a bottom-line profitability in a businesses environment that is already highly competitive.
In today’s screen-print industry, the only thing reminiscent of the “olden days” is the over-arching need to satisfy the customer. And these days, those needs and demands are magnified. Customers, large and small, want the highest quality printing, the fastest turnaround possible, and total precision and exactness in the final product.