Is My Design Suitable for Screen Printing? – AMS Manufacturing & Printing

Is My Design Suitable for Screen Printing?

No matter if you need tees for you clothing brand, corporate retreat or anniversary party for a family reunion, we still get the same question from our clients from time to time. Is my design suitable for screen printing and if not what method would lend itself best to this design?

In this post we will go over everything that we as the premiere screen printing and embroidery shop in Houston, Texas look for in a design to ensure it will look the best screen printed.

Depending on the elements of the design this decision is typically an easy one but one that can only be made with years of experience, printing tees for happy clients and getting their feedback.

To make things easy for you I have gone ahead and broken down just about every typical design that we see come through our doors and how we characterize each type of design. Below is a list of the most suitable designs for screen printing, click each to dive into each type of design and learn more.

  • Small / Fine Detail Text / Design Elements
  • 6 or Less Colors
  • Basic Text Only
  • Minimal or Lack of Gradient Designs

Small / Fine Detail Text / Design Elements

Nearly unachievable my other methods other than direct to garment printing, fine detail designs can really only be achieved with high mesh screen printing.
Due to the process of screen printing which if unfamiliar can find more about here: How to Screen Print. depending on the mesh used by the screen printer you are capable of achieve at least 4pt text 100% legibly. Making it far superior to a vinyl plotter, Cricut or other heat iron on applications.

This also edges out a competitive advantage over one of the longest and most tried and true methods, embroidery. While known for it’s quality and enduring strength one thing it is not known for is exceptional small detail. After all you can only do so much with a 70 head needle.

If you are assessing a design or your design and find that there are some areas with small or fine detail text or other design elements it might be better to consider getting your design screen printed from a local screen printer or contact us here at AMS Manufacturing & Printing to see how we can help you.

The other option would be to delete those small elements of your design to be able to accommodate the design on your Cricuit, vinyl plotter or embroidery machine.

6 or Less Colors
You may already be familiar but in case you are not if you are looking for color centric every color of the rainbow type of tees screen printing is certainly not for you. Again due to the process of screen printing, each different color in the design has to be separated out to essentially another design and then put on a screen.

Not only will heavy color designs end up costing you a lot more per tee ( Most shops charge per color and per location per imprint. ) but it will also cost you more upfront in screen fees that most screen print shops charge. ( Note. AMS Manufacturing & Printing doesn’t charge screen, art, digitization or vectorization fees of any kind. ) While screen printing more than 6 colors is certainly possible and there are screen printers out there who will happy to serve you.

You will find much better success both with pricing, finding a shop willing to take on the work, getting a quality end product and many other factors that can only surface after your first order..

Don’t want that!

Most professional screen print shops in the United States will be set up with at least an 8 color manual screen printing press. This will be perfect for you with your 6 color design.

Let me explain.

If printing your design and graphic on a dark or black tee your screen printer will most likely recommend a underbase layer to give the ink a nice light background to then stand out and contrast against. This then brings you up to a total 7 screens on press leaving an extra for a highlight white if needed or maybe if you are lucky another spot color.

Basic Text Only
If you have a text and icon only design, say for an anniversary, family reunion, corporate retreat or team building event? For the short and or simple designs that you need a lot of screen printing can be your go to. Offering the most competitive prices, fastest turnaround and able to handle bulk order quantity screen printing is an easy answer for these designs.

Not to mention that most designs with text and icon only are typically well below our 6 color recommendation, with the average being just one color!

Minimal or Lack of Gradient Designs

If your designs have gradients otherwise known as color transitions, your design may not be suitable for screen printing. Again I don’t want to make blanket statements as gradients are and often achieved with screen printing. The problem arises when you are trying to get these designs printed at big volume shops churning out over 1000 tees a day.

While gradients are entirely possible they take tremendous time and skill in the art department preparing the artwork and halftones and or spot colors to match the gradient as close as possible.

Unfortunately for you and the screen printer you have chosen the skill and time commitment does not end there when setting up and preparing your screen in the pre prep the people exposing and burning your stencil in the screen will have to pay close attention washing out any remaining emulsion to be sure to not wash out any of those halftone dots!

Overall gradients are a lot of work and generally a bigger headache for your screen printer, so while I will not go as far as to say avoid them like the plague. Limiting them will not only keep more doors open for screen printers to print your garment but also keeping your costs lower both upfront and in the long run.
If this article was helpful to you please feel free to check out our articles on Color Separation, Everything you need to know and the Definitive Guide to Vectorization. Both great entry articles for those getting started making custom apparel!

As always if you in need of custom apparel, custom tees or hoodies for the upcoming fall and winter season AMS Manufacturing & Printing has been Houston’s Premiere Screen Printing and Embroidery Shop serving our clients with affordable prices and smiles.

Contact us today to get your quote going and pick your garments.

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