How Does the Screen Printing Process Work?

screen printing process

Are you in St. Pete, Tampa, or the Largo area and looking to make great marketing materials? If so, did you know that combining digital and print ads can increase the effectiveness of a marketing campaign by 400%?

Whether for your business, promoting an upcoming event, or just for fun, screen printing is a great way to get creative with your design, too. But how does it work? 

This guide will break down all the steps involved in the screen printing process so that you can understand exactly what needs to be done when creating something special with screen printers. From color choice to drying and curing techniques, we’ll take you through everything so you can understand how we help your clients create eye-catching designs every time.

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is a popular and versatile approach to producing art pieces, fabrics, and textiles. Put simply, screen printing involves pushing ink through a screen made of mesh-like fabric and onto the substrate you plan to print on. In the business world, most people use it to create branded t-shirts or posters.

Named after the “screen” it employs in the process, screen printing offers unique vibrancy and texture to your chosen designs; since only one screen is used, it creates designs with a certain eye-catching viscosity that’s hard to replicate with other mediums. Plus, with screen printing, getting creative is easy, as you have nearly unlimited colors and designs.

Screen Printing Uses

Are you unsure how to use marketing printers or local screen printing services? Screen printing is a great way for businesses to promote their services, products, or brand. Namely, you can use screen printing to create eye-catching promotional materials such as t-shirts, hats, stickers, posters, and more — all with a professional finish.

Not only does screen printing look great and make a statement to potential clients and customers, but it’s also cost-effective. This makes it perfect for start-ups or micro businesses. With screen printing, your business has the freedom to design unique logos and messages that will help you stand out from the competition in this digital age.

Screen Printing Process

Now that you know how screen printing can benefit your business, let’s dive into the screen printing process. Understanding this process can help you learn what goes on behind the screen when working with local printers (like us) as they help you bring your designs to life.


The first step in screen printing is creating a unique and eye-catching design. Carefully consider which elements to include, considering the available materials and techniques used with the particular medium.

Once you have decided on a design, we’ll print it onto a transparent acetate film. This film will be the template for creating the screen or stencil. We’ll eventually use that stencil to transfer your artwork onto its intended surface, such as fabric, paper, or other materials.

Screen Preparation

Now it’s time to prepare the screen. Making a screen printing stencil begins by stretching nylon mesh over a frame and attaching it securely. We’ll then place the acetate sheet over the mesh. This allows light to pass through its perforated areas while blocking out light elsewhere.

Once positioned correctly, an ultraviolet light source is used to expose these areas to create a solid stencil that can withstand repeated use in production. The exposed areas become hardened and impermeable, preventing ink from passing through them. In contrast, other areas remain open, transferring inks onto the desired material. This is what completes your design!


We briefly touched on this above, but the third step is usually exposing the emulsion. The emulsion process of screen printing begins with coating a nylon mesh frame with a light-sensitive liquid called, well, emulsion. This emulsion is then dried and hardened before the transparent acetate film that contains the design is carefully placed over it.

If there are any small errors, the printer will correct them so that the stencil looks as close to your original design as possible. By the end of this step, you should have your stencil ready to use!

Print Preparation

With the stencil ready, it’s time to prepare your fabric or material for printing. First, we’ll place your screen onto the printing press. Then we’ll place your item or garment (such as a shirt or tote bag) on the screen.

Depending on the size of the order and type of printer, this may be done with either a manual or automatic style of press. However, most commercial screen printers will use an automatic rotary carousel printer as it allows many screens to work simultaneously and quickly apply each color layer needed for multi-colored prints.


With your stencil and product in place, it’s time to let the ink do its job. We’ll lower the screen onto the printer board and then add the colored ink on top of the screen. The process relies on a squeegee that will help evenly spread the ink along the length of the screen.

As the squeegee does this, it pushes the ink down onto the product (again, this could be a tote bag, t-shirt, or even a poster). We may repeat this step depending on the type of screen printing you choose. For example, with duotone printing, we use black ink first and then a second halftone with color ink.

Heat Curing

After the design has been printed onto whatever material needs to be treated, it passes through a heat-curing dryer which bakes the design into place. This heat-curing process not only sets the design but also makes it so that it will last and not fade away over time.

Thus, heat curing is the final step of the screen printing process, guaranteeing that your unique design stays for years.

Get Screen Printing in St. Pete

Ready to see how the screen printing process can work for your business? We’re here to help.

At Big T Printing, we understand that every screen printing job matters, whether you need custom tees for a charity event or high-end branded merchandise. Because of this, we use the best inks and equipment and over 30 years of experience in screen printing to offer some of the best printing services in the St. Pete, Tampa, and Largo areas.

We ensure every piece is as perfect as possible, so you don’t have to worry about quality control. Get in touch today to chat about your screen printing needs.