Practical Applications of Screen Printing
Out of all the printing processes, screen printing is arguably the most versatile. The biggest advantage that screen printing possesses over other printing processes is that it can be used to print on a great variety of different substrates: paper, plastics and metals, as well as many other materials, such as glass and cotton. These substrates can be printed on in all different shapes, size and thicknesses.
As well as being hugely adaptable to the needs of any given product, screen printing also lends itself to scalability with ease, since a manufacturer has complete control over all of the dimensions, materials and other parameters, allowing them to achieve consistency regardless of the batch size.
What’s more, it’s also a very cost-effective method of mass-producing printed products and affords the manufacturer maximum customisability in their choice of colour and design. Given the simplicity of the procedure, there are a vast number of different inks and dyes available, with more scope for creating unique layered effects that simply aren’t available through other methods of printing.
For those reasons, screen printing is increasingly popular in a wide range of different industries and applications. Here are just a few of them:
- Clothing. Due to the effectiveness of screen printing with an array of materials, it’s perhaps most commonly used in the textile industry. Fabrics as diverse as cotton, polyester, silk and leather all lend themselves to the technique, which means images or text can be directly printed onto the material and then converted into clothing such as shoes, shirts, dresses and more.
- Upholstery. As with clothing, the versatility of screen printing means it can be applied to the variety of materials used in creating bedsheets, curtains, cushion covers, pillow cases, linens, drapes or any other sort of upholstery around the home. In fact, the affordability of the equipment and the savings made by using the process means that many independent designers (working both in clothing and upholstery) purchase their own screen printing units to maximise production and minimise costs.
- Advertising. Screen printing is also hugely popular in the advertising industry. Whether it be as small as a handheld flyer or as big as a billboard, any advertisement can be affordably and efficiently created using this method. The main advantage that screen printing has over digital or electronic printing here is that it can be employed on a small scale equally as effectively as on a large one. Therefore, marketing campaigns with limited outreach or timescale might be too small to be cost-effective with traditional forms of printing – not so with screen printing.
- Technology. The field of technology might not be the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of screen printing, but it’s an invaluable tool for creating membrane keypads and graphic overlays. For example, printed keypads are commonplace in all manner of technological tools and appliances, from calculators and photocopiers to access control systems and food storage facilities. Any industry which employs tactile or touch-screen controls with overlaid controls will most likely use screen printing to achieve their ends.
- Sports. From the kits worn by professional sportsmen to the mementos and memorabilia sold to their fans, the sports industry is one of the biggest users of screen printing techniques. Again, the versatility of materials which are compatible with the technique mean that the individual’s name or team’s logo can be printed on all manner of souvenirs and keepsakes, from keychains and whistles to baseball caps and boxing gloves.
- Medicine. Whether it’s the measurement of millilitres on the outside of a syringe or the tiny throwaway test strips which monitor glucose levels in diabetics, medicine owes a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers of screen printing. The easy scalability, impressive versatility and unbeatable cost-effectiveness of the technique means that it’s used for all manner of purposes in the sector. What’s more, certain labels printed using the technique can even resist bacteria, chemicals or excessive temperatures, making screen printing an ideal fit for medical uses.
- Currency. Ever heard the old maxim: you’ve got to spend money to make money? Well, that may be true – but screen printing certainly makes things a whole lot cheaper. The modern precision of today’s screen printing techniques means that those responsible for manufacturing banknotes can achieve consistency with their results every time – an essential advantage in a world dogged by counterfeit imitations. What’s more, the mass production capabilities of screen printing literally give manufacturers a license to print money.
Due to its versatility, affordability and customisation potential, screen printing certainly has a secure future in the printing industry. Regardless of whether large-scale or small-scale products are needed, screen printing will always have a competitive edge over other printing processes in its reliability and pricing. As such, these discrete but mutually complimentary benefits combine to ensure that screen printing will remain at the forefront of the printing industry for many years to come.
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