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To help you get the screen-printing result you want, here are a few pointers from the experts at Rival Screen Printing

As with all great undertakings, it’s best to take your screen-printing project one step at a time. Keeping things in order helps you avoid costly mistakes, gives you a better final product and, most important, lets you have some fun instead of spending your precious time worrying.

The learning curve

Most people who want screen-printed T-shirts or bags or pants or underwear or whatever don’t know that much about the process of getting their stuff printed.

And that’s okay. We don’t know anything about growing iceberg lettuce, so before we’d start (should the desire arise) we’d want to learn something about it.

Here at Rival Screen Printing, we want you to know everything you need to know before you give us your design. Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will take the time to walk you through the pre-printing and printing process. If you have any questions, just ask. We’re here to help.

With all that in mind, let’s go through the step-by-step.


Maybe you already know exactly what you want in the way of art, or maybe you haven’t the slightest idea. We’re ready to work with you no matter where you’re starting.

Once you’ve decided how you want your artwork to look, we can help you make sure the finished artwork will give you the end result you’re looking for. We’ll look it over and make sure it meets the standards that ensure great printability.

So what makes for the best screen-printing artwork? Unless you’re a graphic artist, this is something you’ll want to turn over to an expert who’s familiar with and good at handling programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Sizes and Numbers
stack of shirts

There’s an old saying: Order enough printed T-shirts and each one is practically free. Sure, but you still receive a bill because, to get each shirt down to that low cost, you have to order a lot of them. Still, large quantities of any printed item will bring the individual item price down. So it’s best to order as many as you need the first time.

To make the best deal, you should:

  • Know how many printed items you need
  • Work with us to make sure the product is available and right for your project (there are many, many choices if the first doesn’t work out)
  • Find out where the price breaks come in
  • Make sure your order and our minimums are compatible
  • Request an estimate when you have all the information you need

A few more things to think about when you want to place an order with us:

  • Minimum pieces per order: 24
  • Minimum pieces per ink change: 12
  • Minimum pieces per size, color and style: No Minimun
  • Minimum pieces per custom relabel: 24

Art Proof
new pantone colors

This is sort of like an architect’s rendering. The art proof—or mockup—shows you what the finished product will look like in living color, so you know exactly what you’re getting before printing a few thousand garments or other fun items that might have your name all over them.

The proof saves everybody money and time. It’s the best point in the process to make sure you have all your questions answered and you’re completely happy.


Film is used to make the “screen” in screen printing. But it’s a little more complicated than it sounds. Each color in your design becomes a piece of film before it becomes a screen. So there are as many screens as there are colors. The process of taking the artwork apart is called “color separation.”

The actual printing isn’t a one-step process. Each color has its own screen and its own ink.

Screen Burning
stack of screens

This is where the rubber meets the road, or, more to the point, where film and screen come together. How well it’s done is key to the quality of the printed image. Again, it sounds simple, but it takes expertise to do it right.

Here’s the process:

  • A photo-reactive emulsion is applied to a pre-stretched screen and dried
  • The film is adhered to the screen
  • High-intensity light is applied to the film and screen to transfer the image to the screen as a stencil
  • The screen is washed with water to eliminate the emulsion, leaving the imaged screen

Screen Preparation
screen wash out

The last thing you want is a lot of tiny holes in your printed image. Screen prep makes sure you don’t get them. You also want your screen to hold up through the entire print run.

A liquid known as “blockout” is allowed to dry on areas outside the design to prevent the pinholes. It also stabilizes the stencil so it lasts. Finally, tape is applied to prevent ink leaks along the edges of the screen.

The result? A crisp, clean, solid image.

Ink Mixing
ink mixing

What’s the point of having a great design, perfect artwork, ideal film and well-prepared screens if the printed colors aren’t right? That’s where expert ink mixing comes in.

Most often, we use Pantone mixes that we can keep on hand, so there’s no wasted time. But, even if we run out of a particular color, we can quickly mix more. All it takes is the PC ink system.

Finally Printing!
printing tshirts

Setting up to print is a fairly complicated operation. We have to consider quite a few variables, including such arcane-sounding issues as squeegee speed and angle, durometer and amount of off-contact—and we’re not going into a long explanation of each item.

Suffice it to say that experience and skill count here. So does record-keeping. Let’s say your T-shirt or whatever is a huge success and people are clamoring for more. We’ve kept a record of all the set-up variables so we can get another print run up and running in a fraction of the time it took to do the first one.

Ship or Pick Up

So everything’s done. Your order looks great. You’ve inspected the outcome, and you’re happy. Now, how do we get it to you?

Of course, you can pick it up, if that’s handy, but it often isn’t, so we send it. Here’s what you need to know about shipping:

  • Turnaround time doesn’t include shipping
  • Once the shipping company has your order, we can’t accept responsibility for delivery dates
  • We do ship out of the country, but you need to let us know where in the world your shipment is going to make sure the country is among those we ship to
  • We ship via UPS

To learn more about working with us and creating guaranteed great screen-printed garments and other items, contact us. We’d be happy to answer your questions.