The Silkscreen Printing

The Silkscreen Printing is a technique that allows decorating any material. It is basically a stretched mesh that transfers the ink into a support by blocking the parts that will not be colored. The use of several complementary meshes will lead to multi-coloured finishings in which each colour is a different layer. For example in order to printing a rainbow we would use seven meshes, one for each colour of the rainbow that has to be filtered.

Printing by silkscreen comes from an older technique, the stenciled, which is based on a very simplistic concept: cutting a shape into a material in order to allow the ink to trespass only in that area. This selective printing method has been use for millenia and has appeared in different cultures throughout history.

The beginnings of Silkscreen

The oldest templates have been discovered in Fidji, where 5,000 years ago banana leaves where hollowed in order to decorate fabrics. A similar technique was used in caves in the Pyrenees, and Egypcian stenciled vases and murals in 2,500 b.C. 

It was in the Far East where a quality leap was made towards silkscreen printing. The texts founded provide details on how, before silk was used, stretched hairs where glued to a paper and lacquered. Modern silkscreen is quite alike, using a stretched mesh through which ink is filtered in those unvarnished areas.

Modern Silkscreen

It is during the 20th Century, mostly in the US, when screen printing becomes an industrial process, specially for commercial purposes. In the age of standarization, silkscreen printing offers a series of advantages: all printed copies have exactly the same quality and definition because meshes do not wear out (as oposed to other printing techniques); it is also a versatile technique that will adapt to any product or material. There are also some disadvantages, mostly the fact that you need one mesh for each colour, complicating a printing for elaborated designs. This is why screen printing is mainly used for special finishings and effects such as glow, glitter, varnish...

Main Silkscreen applications:

  1. Transfers and labels
  2. Posters, drawings and other advertising elements
  3. Covers
  4. Crystal deco
  5. Printing in plastic

 

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Grifoll printer using a silkscreen mesh

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