What is screen printing? Applications, uses and everything you need to know

hombre imprimiendo en serigrafia

The word silkscreen comes from the union of Latin and French, specifically from the word sericum (a Latin word that means silk) and graphie (a French word that means graphic). The history of screen printing is quite long and it is said that such a technique began to be used in ancient China, but it was not until the 20th century when it began to be used as a new way of advertising.



In a few words, we can understand this printing technique as a technique to make prints on different materials (in its beginnings the prints were only on fabric, but nowadays screen printing can be printed on any other material such as paper, wood, ceramics, among others). One of the great advantages of this technique is that it allows you to maintain the quality of the printing despite being a fairly repetitive method, a great advantage and that it allows you to repeat the same design many times. In addition, it is important to note that screen printing is a very simple and quite inexpensive technique.


Some of the most important and interesting features of screen printing can be:

  • It is a perfect technique to be used on delicate objects since it does not have as great an impression force as other techniques.
  • Despite being a technique with a low printing force, the impressions made by screen printing have a long duration and they look very, very good.
  • Many types of inks can be used, each of them can be adapted in the best possible way to the objective we have in mind. This means that we can use resin inks, oil, water-based inks and even powder inks.
  • It is a very flexible printing technique, in addition to adapting to different types of materials and being able to use many types of inks, this type of printing is also perfect for small objects and for very large surfaces.
  • It is a perfect technique to adapt the different prints to the three-dimensional world, this means that we can add different textures or reliefs without any problem.


As we said before, one of the advantages of this printing technique is that its printing process is not so complicated, then we will explain this process in a fairly simple and straightforward way:

  • To begin the screen printing process, you must first make a design of what you want to print.
  • Having ready design must proceed to create a screen for printing in this step the emulsion is used to make the design remains fixed on the screen.
  • The final step consists of printing the design made on the selected material. In this step, the use of a dryer is recommended to better fix the ink used.

Industrial screen printing vs artistic screen printing

serigrafía artística

There are great and very marked differences between artistic and industrial screen printing, one of the great differences being the use that will be given to the printing after it is made. Among the most important differences between the two we can find:

  • The main purpose of this printing technique at an industrial level is to be used in processes in which the other printing techniques are not of some use, for example, in printing on very large objects or also on very soft objects. On the other hand, artistic screen printing is a way of replicating works, of making an artist known and it is even an excellent way of expressing oneself.
  • Usually the processes of this printing at an industrial level are much more technological, fast and easy to carry out, as its name indicates, the process is industrialized. On the other hand, the process of artistic screen printing is much more traditional.

Materials needed in this printing process

As we have already mentioned before, this type of printing is a fairly flexible printing technique, therefore it adapts perfectly to different materials. Here we will comment on all the materials we need for the screen printing process:

  1. The first material we need is a kind of canvas to print, here we can use materials as varied as wood, fabric, paper, ceramics and many other things.
  2. Ink. For the process we must use some type of ink, in this case different types of inks can also be used as we discussed earlier.
  3. A screen or frame.
  4. An origandi mesh and polyester.
  5. Emulsion.
  6. Photoliths.
  7. A recuperator, a squeegee, a ditch, a dryer or stripper and an insolator.

Types of screen printing

Different types of screen printing and different classifications can be found on the market, for example, we can qualify screen printing according to the material to be used and also according to the technique used.

Types of screen printing according to the material

The large number of materials that can be used with this technique allows different types of printing to exist depending on their material, for example, textile screen printing, on wood, on glass, among other types.

Types of screen printing according to the technique

  • Semi-automatic screen printing. It is a screen printing technique in which some of the processes are automatic and others must be carried out by the user.
  • Circular. For this type of circular printing, a special machine must be used that allows printing on cylindrical objects.
  • Handbook. Each and every one of the operations must be carried out by the user.
  • Automatic The printing technique is fully automated and the elements simply have to be placed in position to begin printing.

Textile screen printing

serigrafía textil

This type of textile printing is simply a printing technique in which the material to be printed on is a textile. The process is the same as in any other screen printing process and the only difference is that our final product or result will be a printed textile with a beautiful print.

This process complements very well for making printed clothing labels.

Advantages and disadvantages of screen printing

Advantages of screen printing

  • It can be printed on different materials.
  • It offers the ability to print in different sizes, even some sizes that are impossible to replicate with other printing techniques.
  • The relationship between the price paid and the quality of the print is quite good.
  • Very good color reproduction is obtained (depending on the ink to be used).
  • The silkscreen printing process is quite inexpensive and also straightforward.

Disadvantages of screen printing

  • Over time, the image frame may deteriorate.
  • In most cases the templates are somewhat fragile.
  • Designs can be quite simple.
  • The quality of the printing is very little low compared to other printing techniques.

Silkscreen examples

One of the great examples of this printing technique are printed T-shirts, most of these products have a print made with a technique as interesting and advantageous as screen printing.