3 Screen Printing Problems and Their Solutions

Screen printing is an effective technique for creating vibrant canvases, posters, artwork, fabrics and textiles. 

The screen printing technique uses mesh to transfer ink, except in areas blocked by a stencil. The process is also called serigraphy or silkscreen printing.

It’s a physical technique that has risks affecting a print's quality. Here are three common screen printing problems and solutions to ensure your print turns out sharp.

  1. Problem One: The Image Has Bled and Ruined the Design
  2. Problem Two: Loss of Detail
  3. Problem Three: The Ink Viscosity Is Off

Problem One: The Image Has Bled and Ruined the Design

screen printing design issues and fixesImage credit.

When screen printing, certain areas of your chosen canvas are blocked out using stencils. Stencils can be created in various ways depending on the materials used, but it's essential to prepare them correctly. 

Different stencilling techniques include:

  • Using masking tape or vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen.
  • Painting the stencil onto the mesh using 'screen blockers' such as glue.
  • A light-sensitive emulsion is used to create a stencil, which is then developed.

Designs made using the screen printing technique can use several shades of inks. 

Colours must be applied in individual layers for multicoloured items, using separate stencils for each ink. 

Each scenario has the potential for bleeding, where the ink may run, leaving your intricate design in an inky blur.

Tired of Ink Bleeding and Ruining Your Prints? 

We have the perfect asset for you to create a brilliant piece of print without the hassle of screen printing. Download the free guide today.

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Problem Two: Loss of Detail 

loss of detail screen printing problem

Screen printing is used for many repeat items but takes significantly longer than its digital counterparts. So when your intricate stencil details aren't coming through, it can be time-consuming and challenging to overcome. 

While the complexity of the process does mean there's a limit to the number of colours the printer can use, it's relatively cost-effective for large orders. It allows for more intense colouring than you can achieve with other methods. 

However, you might be losing important details in the final print for several reasons, including:

  • Inconsistent tension across the mesh screen can lead to uneven ink application and registration issues, resulting in variations in print quality.
  • Uneven pressure applied by the squeegee can cause variations in ink deposition, resulting in differences in colour density or clarity across prints.
  • Variations in ink viscosity or composition can affect how the ink flows through the mesh screen and adheres to the printing surface, leading to differences in print quality.
  • Misalignment of screens during printing can result in blurred or misregistered prints, especially in multicoloured designs.

Problem Three: The Ink Viscosity Is Off

ink viscosity is important during screen printing

If the ink consistency is off, it can create less-than-desirable results for your screen printing project. Screen printers refer to inks as either short or long. 

  • A short ink tends to drop in a blob.
  • A long ink is stringy like syrup. 

Short ink is ideal for screen printing, followed closely by water-based ink, an eco-friendly alternative.

Its lower viscosity facilitates smooth flow through the mesh screen, producing consistent ink deposition and sharper prints. Short ink's ability to penetrate substrate fibres enhances detail reproduction, making it ideal for intricate designs and small text.

The ease of flow from short ink also enables faster production speeds without compromising print quality, reducing downtime for cleaning and maintenance.

Explore Other Printing Techniques

Screen printing is excellent for fabric, abstract posters and logos but doesn't translate the finer details of other printing techniques. Books, leaflets, posters, cards, signs, brochures and prospectuses rely on print to convey their message. Paired with the common screen printing problems mentioned, looking elsewhere for your printing needs might be better. 

Some people claim that the digital world has destroyed the print industry, but that just isn't true.

It's still as relevant as ever in your marketing strategy. That's why we created a guide to all the printing techniques you can utilise for your business. Click below to get access.

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Explore the
Best of Green
Printing Tips

You’re probably well aware of the growing importance and demand of eco-friendly products.

Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.