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Screen Printing 101

The screen printing process

For around a thousand years, decoration of fabric or some other substrate through the process of pushing ink or dye through a stencil (screen) has existed. The basics of this ancient process is what remains at the heart of modern screen printing today. The presses may look different and the inks are no longer made of berries and other natural dyes, but the basic concept has only modestly evolved from its ancient origins.

At Banana Graphics we start with a digital rendering of your image. In a dark room, we expose the image onto a screen. The screen is aligned (registered) on one of our presses. By hand using a wooden squeegee to pull ink across the stencil, this prints the design onto the garment. Each color is applied separately in the same manner. Our equipment is capable of imprinting up to 10 colors in a single cycle.

Factoid: Originally screens were made of silk. This process of silk screen printing has its roots in ancient Chinese culture. Screens are no longer made of silk and are much more durable, but the essence of those ancient methods still exists today.

Eco Friendly Inks

Banana Graphics Apparel is currently Savannah's only screen printer using eco-friendly water based inks and water discharge inks whenever possible. Although marginally more expensive, we prefer to use these inks due to their reduced impact on the environment as they are non-toxic, clean up with water and vinegar and do not pollute our world.

Water Based Inks also make a softer imprint because as they are much thinner than petroleum inks. They also don't tend to crack and peel like plastisol can if not applied correctly. The ink soaks into the fabric instead of leaving a thin plastic layer on the surface. Your print will stretch with the shirt's fabric and will not crack or peel over time.

We like to couple water based inks with our eco-friendly 100% organic cotton garments for truly earth friendly friendly apparel.

Discharge Inks

A long time challenge for screen printers is to get colored ink to show up well on dark garment. Traditionally, the process of "flashing" has been our only option which prints a white base layer in the shape of the design on to the garment and then the design printed on top. The result is a thicker print and is more prone to cracking.  With discharged ink, we can achieve vibrant colors on all sorts of dark fabrics. This unique process embeds your design into the garment fabric leaving your finished print vibrant and extremely soft to touch making it popular among national clothing stores such as GAP« and Old Navy® for instance. Now you can get your custom shirts screen printed using this state of the art process right here in Savannah.

Now banned in Europe, plastisol ink emits Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) during the printing process. These inks continue to release VOC's while on your garments for years.  Banana Graphics is Savannah's first and only screen printer to use an alternative to these dangerous inks exclusively.

Factoid: Unlike petroleum based inks, water based inks can be cleaned up using water and cleaners that are 100% biodegradable, so cleaning up is a breeze.

Direct to Garment Printing (DTG)

Relatively new fabric printing, this is a method that prints an image directly onto the garment through what appears is a modified version of a traditional inkjet printer that accepts garments. The water based and enviro-friendly ink is printed directly onto the garment and results in exceptional “hand”,  an industry term referring to how soft a garment feels once printed. DTG is an affordable option to multicolor and 4 color process and is typically the preferred method used for shorter runs. This is how we can do small quantities at a reasonable price.

Although created by the Chinese over 10 centuries ago, the art and science of “silkscreen printing” has evolved very little from its origins. No longer using silk, screens are made of polymers which are much more durable.

While the equipment used today is quite different, the basic principles ancient.

Please be sure to watch the video to the right. Here you will see the entire process of concept to finished product and only takes about 10 minutes.

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“We couldn't be more pleased with the product and service from Banana Graphics. Top quality tee shirts, excellent product knowledge, and skilled design service made our special event a super success! Thank you Banana Graphics!”

via Google Reviews

Chris Griffin, GM

Connect Savannah


Below is a short video that outlines the screen printing process. Here you will see the many steps it takes to bring your message to life.


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