Digital Printing in Guelph 

The emergence of digital and Internet technologies in recent years have brought about new printing trends that will forever change the printing industry. These printing industry trends have changed the way companies do business from the design to the printing phase of operations.

In Guelph , the printing industry has met these new printing trends with open arms as many have updated their workflow and production strategies to meet the changing demands. On the other hand, many of those who never made these important changes have struggled because of the growing competition by non-print and online media.

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology School of Print Media, there has been a growing media competition considering the fact that print advertising is driven by newspaper, magazine and periodical revenues while “the Internet is chipping away at traditional media usage and communication.”

The recent developments in the printing industry can be attributed to several printing trends:

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For years t-shirt printers have used screen printing as their preferred method for printing designs onto t-shirts. The only other alternative used to be iron-on designs or transfers, which was a very different type of product. Many people remember the transfers from the late 1970s and early 80s as thick rubbery designs that would sometimes crack or peel. Another problem with iron-on was the fact that it was time consuming to do multiple t-shirts. Screen printing was a much more efficient process, allowing t-shirt printers to do multiple t-shirts faster while creating a higher quality shirt. Screen printing had long become the standard in the t-shirt printing industry. The standard until digital printing starts to evolve.

As the computer gained popularity in society, so did graphic design. The ability to design unique graphics on computers has become one of the most sought out skills in today's job market. More and more people are using their computers to create unique t-shirt designs. Still, computer generated designs were still printed on shirts using the screen process until the rise of digital printing. The digital process is the new era of t-shirt printing, allowing a printer to print designs from a computer directly onto a t-shirt. Digital printing is the 21st century alternative to screen printing.

Faster and Cheaper

Printing with screens is still widely used by t-shirt printing companies and is still a quality process, but the digital process has quickly become the chief alternative for small runs. The set up for digital is much easier and cost effective. In the screen process one has to set up a screen for each color the design takes, which means that the more complex the design is the more screens the printer is going to need. This increases the manual labor which is going to increase cost. When a screen printer prices their t-shirts, they always charge more for more colors. With digital t-shirts there are unlimited colors and no screens, just one flat fee per t-shirt. Instead of setting up all the screens beforehand, the only set up digital requires is a pre-treatment of the t-shirt, which gives the shirt a solid base and prevents the digitally printed ink from smearing. This is a much less time consuming pre-printing process.

More Control

Digital printing offers much more control during the printing process than screen printing. Digital printing gives a printer the option of auto-matching ink. Instead of mixing inks, the screen printing way, ink matching allows the digital printer to print any color from the original design directly onto the t-shirt. The digital ink process makes it easier to print multi-colored designs digitally on t-shirts.

For a large order of t-shirts screen printing is still going to be the main option most t-shirt printers choose. The only downside of digital printing is the manufacturer needs multiple printers in order to speed up the printing process. Screen printing can print more shirts at a time, making them ideal for large orders. This is the main reason why digital printing hasn't completely taken over the market. Some day most t-shirt printers may only do digital printing if printers become large enough and are able to handle bigger orders. Until then screen printing and digital printing will continue to work together. It will be up to the printer to decide what process is more efficient for each individual order.

However, digital printing is making stride. A decade ago digital printers were rare, now most t-shirt companies have a digital printer and use it for all single t-shirt orders.

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Who thought to print onto t-shirts? Well it all began in 1700 where it was introduced to Western Europe from Asia as 'Screen Printing'. It became largely recognised when silk mesh was available and this is why the term 'Silk Screen Printing' is used these days.

Samuel Simon was responsible for the patency of 'Screen Printing' in 1907. Clothing wasn't the first product the process was used to print onto it was actually invented to produce expensive wallpaper for the wealthy and was printed on many types of fabric, silk and linen were the most popular types. The newly mastered techniques weren't produced by many they were kept under strict secrecy and the workshops were very hard to come across.

By 1910 the printers started to experiment with different types of chemicals, as photography had become a well established technique they started to adapt these techniques to produce their silk screens. It was three gentlemen called Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward Owens who actually invented the first photo-Imaged stencil, this was a combination of chromic acid salts which produced the emulsion and this was the beginning for large format silk screen printing.

Combining Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward Owens discovery with Joseph Ulanos lacquer soluble stencil, they had a solid base to make screens which could then be made into stencils. The solution applied to the screens would dry this could then be cut into shapes leaving the 'silk screen' which the ink was passed through producing your printed clothing or wallpaper.

Now they had invented the technique the question was what other types of materials could the technique be used on? Artists where the ones who used screen printing the most and where it became main stream, they produced posters, Books, Newspapers and Clothing.

1960's was when it became a famous technique, Andy Warhol started using traditional techniques and adapting them to produce his pieces of art with one of his most famous one being the portrait of 'Marilyn Monroe'.

These techniques were produced on a single screen and it wasn't until 1967 when inventor 'Michael Vasilantone' came up with the multiple printing carousel. From this date screen printing had revolutionised and you could now print multi coloured design onto textiles.

Here after 'silk screen printing' was looked at differently and you could now print onto most types of textiles or clothing with the most fashionable one being t shirts. T Shirt Printing is used within the fashion Industry, Promotional Industry and is a well known technique all over the world. There is always new techniques being invented, the old ways of CMYK or 4 colour process has become dated as full colour simulated process or 12 colours has become the default technique used by most professional screen printers.

If you would like learn more about screen printing or are looking for a T Shirt Printing company visit Screenworks Ltd.

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