I had a job come through the shop I thought some of you might be interested in. These shipped out today and will be for sale at the Midwest Gaming Classic this weekend!!! I took a few pictures, check out the printing process!
First step after finalizing the artwork is printing the film. We use illustrator and separation software to get a super opaque print.
This is our LED exposure unit with the light off.
Added the fresh screen. They are coated with a light sensitive emulsion that will react when the LED's come on.
Exposure unit closed and vacuum turned on to created a perfect seal. Our high mesh screens can create details as small as 1/10th of a millimeter so the vacuum is a must.
The emulsion we use is fully exposed in about 40".
We use a garden hose and a wash out booth with an LED back light to wash out the screen. All the areas covered up by the film wash out in about 2-3 mins.
After the screen dries we use blocking tape to mask all the areas not covered by emulsion, we use a ton of tape.
To the press!! This is my pride and joy. Handmade in Portugal, these things are made for precision and speed. Moving full speed a team of 3 people can print 600-700 per hour, but we rarely move that fast. It is mostly pneumatic and extremely quiet. It weighs about 3000lbs. The crazy thing is this is the smallest machine these guys make, they make an oval version that can literally be are large as your warehouse allows.
Some fun facts, even though the United States outrageously uses more t-shirst than the rest of the world, the Europeans know a thing or two about screen printing. The screen printing world capitol is considered to be Istanbul, where there are more screen printing presses per capita than any other city. They are known for screen printing retail quality shirts and fabrics plus other things like leather for designer handbags.
Screen aligned and locked into place.
Picture of the squeegee and floodbar. I can adjust angles for more or less ink coverage.
Color matching. We don't use a scale or a fancy mixing system. With over a decade of experience I mix by hand. If we need a custom color for a huge run we pay our ink supplier to mix for us. The majority of prints we do are simple colors with 1 color white prints the most common.
Adding the ink. This job doesn't use much ink so I should only have to do this once.
More tape! Here I'm taping up my registration marks and any other imperfections on the screen. The nice thing about my press is the arms pop up so they are easy to tape. On most presses you have to climb underneath them to apply tape.
Test printing and aligning the lasers. The lasers help me make sure the print is straight when the shirt is loaded onto the press.
Bring on the shirts! JJP always goes with high quality shirts. The white shirts are American Apparel and the Raglans are Sport-Tec.
Here is the press in action. The press has 8 arms. Shirt is loaded on the first arm and it rotates around and is removed on the eighth. At the second location I have the flash unit installed to cure the first color before the second is printed. You can print wet on wet but I prefer not to if I can. I printed the job by myself at a steady 300 per hour. I love printing on raglans, especially when the artwork matches the sleeve color like JJP did.
Almost done. Our conveyor dryer is 14' long and is basically the same oven Dominos uses to cook your pizza. We cook our shirts at 330F for about 30". Time to fold them up and ship them out.
Post if you have questions. If you have bulk t-shirt needs I am 100% down to trade shirts for pinball machines used or new.