Screen Printing Glossary (a learning page)

  • Acetone: chemical solvent that can be used to remove waterproofing from nylon jackets. Acetone is the principle ingredient in nail polish remover.
  • Air-dry: property of any ink that will dry without the use of heat by evaporation.
  • Black light: common name for any lamp that emits ultraviolet light. Black light appears as violet to the human eye.
  • Bleed: occurs when dye migrates from the fabric into the imprinted ink on a garment. This problem occurs in 100% polyester or 50/50 blend garments only. Can be avoided by using bleed resistant inks and by taking certain precautions when printing, curing, and handling the garments.
  • Burn: expose an emulsion coated screen to a light source to create a stencil.
  • Catalyst: a chemical additive added to ink that will improve its adhesion properties.
  • Color Separation: separating of each imprint color in a design into a separate image. Each individual separated color will then be printed in a certain order to reproduce the original composite image.
  • Cool Down: allowing a flashed print to cool down in temperature before any further printing is done.
  • Crocking: tendency of a print to come off when rubbed or subjected to abrasion.
  • Cure: process of using heat to completely fuse plastisol ink. Technically incorrect term for “drying” ink.
  • Curved Screen: rounded screens used to print on the crown of ball caps.
  • Digital Transfer: term used to describe transfers that are processed and/or printed through a computer. Digital transfers are output via ink jet or color laser printers onto special transfer paper then applied to a garment with a heat transfer press.
  • Direct To Garment (DTG): printing process utilizing a special ink jet based printer that uses special textile inks to print directly onto a garment.
  • Emulsion: photosensitive chemical in either liquid, roll or sheet form that is applied to a screen and used for the purpose of making a stencil.
  • Exposure: exposing an emulsion coated screen to light to create a stencil. Also known as “burning” a screen.
  • Film: common term used for a film positive.
  • Ghost Image: a faint image that remains on the screen after the screen has been reclaimed.
  • Halftone Line Count: number of lines per inch (LPI). The lower the LPI, the larger the halftone dots will be. Common halftone line counts for garment screen printing is a range from 35 LPI to 65 LPI.
  • Heat Transfer: printing of an image in reverse onto special paper then transferring that image with a special press to a garment or other substrate.
  • Heat Transfer Paper: special paper that releases ink printed on it when pressure and heat is applied with a special press.
  • High Density (also known as lenticular printing): a special effect by which normally flat static images convey depth. This is done by using an extremely thick stencil and with inks made specially for this purpose.
  • Index Color Printing: reducing color palette of an image to a few colors that best represents the color representation of the image. The individual colors are then output separately and printed in a specific order.
  • Misprint: a print containing a defect of some kind.
  • Mono-filament: screen fabric woven from single strand threads.
  • Multicolor: artwork containing more than one color.
  • Multi-filament: screen fabric woven from multiple strand threads.
  • Name Drop: adding a custom name to a generic design.
  • Newton: the unit of measurement for screen tension.
  • Overprinting: printing one color on top of another color.
  • Photopolymer: type of emulsion that is fast developing and contains a high solids content.
  • Pigment: the component of ink that provides the color.
  • Plasticizer: chemical component in plastisol ink used to give it the property of flexibility.
  • Print Head: the component of a screen printing press that the screen is attached.
  • Puff Additive: an ink additive for plastisol ink to make it expand in size.
  • Quartz Lamp: light source that can be used for exposing screens. Relatively low in UV output.
  • Ultraviolet Light: it is so named because the spectrum consists of electromagnetic waves with frequencies higher than those that humans identify as the color violet. Ultraviolet light is commonly called black light. UV light is the ideal type of light for exposing screen and curing certain types of ink.
  • Underbase: thin coating of ink printed first and cured to act as a base for which all other colors are to be printed on. Underbasing is usually required when printing multi-color designs on colored shirts.
  • Vellum Paper: special type of translucent paper usually printed with a laser printer used to create a film positive.
  • Viscosity: commonly perceived as the “thickness” or “thinness” of an ink.
  • Wetting Agent: chemical applied to the screen to make it “wetter” than would be possible with water alone. A wetting agent is used as an aid in the adhesion of the capillary film to a screen.
  • Laissez les bon temps rouler! (pronounced lay-zay lay bon ton rule-ay)