Screen Printing 101

Screen printing is a process of adding a color or multiple colors to a substrate like a shirt. This technique uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to receive a desired image. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing ink into the mesh openings for transfer to the shirt during the squeegee stroke. Basically, it is the process of using a stencil to apply ink on to the shirt.


The areas around the open image area prevent ink from passing through to the shirt. The open areas allow the ink to be pushed through the mesh and printed on the material.  Mosaic Threads uses a photosensitive emulsion.  A photosensitive coating is applied to the entire surface of the screen and then dried. Using a large digital printer the design is printed on a clear piece of film.  The film is placed on the prepared screen and they are exposed to a bright light. After a period of time, the exposed areas can be washed off the screen with water, which makes the screen ready to print.
If more colors are required to finish the design, the process requires different film/screens for each color that is printed.  A design that requires six different colors would, therefore, require six different screens.


Screens are placed on a press that allows the different colors to be registered with each other and printed together. Once the machine is set up on the the automated press we can print hundreds of shirts per hour.  Mosaic Threads has two fully automated presses that allow us to set-up and print in mass quantities.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, we also has manual printers to be able to handle smaller orders or sporting apparel.

When a design is going to be printed on darker items, a base print may be required to ensure that the colors maintain their vivacity. A base color (usually white) is applied wherever the final print is desired; it is then flash-cured and the subsequent colors are printed on top. This flash-curing technique adds another step to the process, but ensures strong prints on on dark or even black materials.


The item is then sent on a conveyor belt through a large dryer. The apparel is heated to a certain temp for an exact amount of time to cure the ink onto the shirt.  This curing process ensures that the inks drys and adheres to the apparel. Properly cured inks will remain on the printed substrate even under harsh conditions.

The bulk of what we do is t shirt screen printing, promotional t shirts and custom shirt printing. We are a billings, MT t shirt screen printing company. 

Shirt screen printing is what Mosaic specializes in. Give us a call and as us about shirt screen printing needs.