Screen Printer

LaxmiScreen Printer

Screen to squeegee,
digital to analog

Screen printing is the process of transferring ink onto paper or fabric using stencils, a skill that Laxmi has mastered during her years working with a printing unit in Bengaluru. Beginning her career as a trainee, she now heads the unit’s screen printing vertical, using the technique to make a variety of products including wedding cards, business cards, personalised T-shirts and bags.

The unit’s managers taught Laxmi everything there is to know about screen printing. “My training at the printing unit has been very satisfactory and my managers are always supportive if I get stuck,” she said.

Laxmi outlined her process:

  • Clients usually bring designs as reference images on phones or printed on paper. I also have an in-house team that makes designs as per their requirements. Based on the reference, we make the CAD drawing on a computer and prepare it for exposure.
  • A chemical (emulsion) is applied to the screen (a wooden frame with a cloth/mesh stretched over it) before exposing it to light. The CAD drawing is placed on the screen, which in turn, is positioned at the centre of the exposing machine. A sack of sand or glass is placed on top to keep the screen flat.
  • Once the screen has been exposed to light, we have to wash it to see if the design has accurately transferred onto it.
  • Before starting the print process, the paper needs to be cut to a desired shape and size. The screen needs to be double-checked to ensure it aligns well with the paper.
  • Now, we can start printing! First, the paper is placed on the table. The screen is laid on top. Colour is poured on and a squeegee (a rubber blade with a metal handle) is used to drag the ink across the whole length of the screen.
  • In case you need to print using different colours, you can repeat the process once the first colour has completely dried on paper.

“The key to perfect printing is to give the table a rough framework for the placement of the stencil and to make sure the paper or screen does not move while printing,” Laxmi added.

She has also explored screen printing on different materials such as wood and recycled paper. While attempting to print on wood, Laxmi noticed that the ink would keep escaping from the sides. By trial and error, she realised that a different type of ink would have to be used for wood. It is through such experiences that Laxmi has developed an in-depth understanding of the various nuances of screen printing. Today, she allows her curiosity to lead her on, exploring different mediums and building a repository of personal knowledge in the process.

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