Screen printing is very much an art in more ways than one. Not all t-shirt printers or promotional clothing printers take the same care over the quality of the printing as we do. We make sure our print doesn’t crack, colours don’t overlap, the design is straight and the ink is thick enough.



Screen printing is a great process for larger order of printed t-shirts (10+) and larger designs. Screen-printed t-shirts wash well and can maintain the print quality for some time. Most printing you see in the High Street shops will have been printed this way. although digital printing has become popular for photographs on shirts recently.

This process should not be confused with heat transfer printing (or thermal prints). Transfer prints do not last as well and are not as good in terms of print quality.

When screen printing, one colour at a time is applied and therefore the cost will increase with each additional colour applied. For each separate colour an additional screen is required, so a design with 4 colours in it will need 4 screens, this can make screen printing in many colours uneconomical if only a small run of clothing is required and digital printing might be a cheaper option.

At the other end of the number scale the cost of 4 screens spread over a large number of garments doesn't add a lot extra to the cost per shirt. We have price breaks at 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and at 500. If you want more than 500 then we will produce a bespoke quote for you. You can combine garments to get to the next price bracket as long as the print remains the same. If the print size is changed then this counts as a separate print run.

If you would like to see how we make our screens then check out our screen making video that is on our blog.

Advantages of screen printing

  • the most effective and economical printing method
  • consistent and long lasting result
  • huge volume of items in a relatively short time
  • bold vibrant colours
  • print area as big as 37 x 45cm

Disadvantages of screen printing

  • involves a set-up cost per design
  • can be expensive for small orders

Types of screen-printing ink

Plastisol inks

  • The standard ‘go to’ inks for most screenprinting jobs.
  • Oil based inks formulated into PVC molecules and pigment, suspended in a plasticizing emulsion
  • Tend to sit on top of the t-shirt fibres creating a raised and textured feel
  • Dark garments require a heavier deposit than light garments and this exacerbates the ‘raised’ feeling.
  • If the ink is used straight out of the container, it is very opaque and this means your prints achieve a brightness and vibrancy that is superior to all other types of inks.
  • Plastisol inks are also very versatile with special effects
  • You can create interesting textures with ‘puff additives’, glitter, suede effects, cracked effects, metallic and pearlescent effects.
  • Plastisols will work on almost any standard fabric used in garment production and this is why they also remain the firm favourite

Waterbased inks

  • For ethical reasons, The Soil Association has approved waterbased inks on the basis that they offer a better, healthier alternative over oils/pvc products.
  • They are softer to the feel than plastisols.
  • When printing onto white shirts they will give an almost ‘invisible to the touch’ effect as the pigment soaks into the fibres of the garment while the water dries or evaporates during the curing process.
  • They are trickier to work with from a technical standpoint and for tonally variable work, we may suggest to use plastisols.
  • They work best on 100% cotton garments and work with limited effect on cotton/poly mixtures.
  • For a more detailed look at when water based inks are best check out our blog "When can water based inks work and when do they fail"
  • When printing onto dark shirts, water-based inks need a magic trick to make them work.

Discharge printing

  • A bleaching agent is added to water-based inks, which removes the colour from the garment precisely where the ink sits so that the pigment settles onto a neutral colour. This happens in the dryer when the ink reaches the required temperature.
  • The results can be excellent with 'thin' ink deposits and fairly vibrant colours. This contrasts with the thick deposit required with plastisols to achieve the required brightness.
  • Plastisols will always win on brightness but many designs were created to look 'vintage' and this is where discharge printing can become relevant.


  • create high resolution files of 300dpi, or 72dpi with extremely large dimensions
  • vector based images are the best as they can be easily amended and they can scale to any size without loss of details
  • Try to avoid very small negative spaces as they can fill in or “bleed”, a very small negative space can be filled in by the ink that surrounds it pretty easily
  • Try to avoid drop shadow, glow or gradient effects and these types of effect don’t translate to the screen successfully
  • Avoid using transparencies as we can only print solid colours
  • Rasterise or outline the type to avoid it being replaced with a default one

What our customer say about our screen printing work

Despite the mother of all client deadline issues, Shirtworks came through with flying colours.I think the first time I used Shirtworks was 1986, so something must be working!

- John

Our company needed an urgent and good value sweatshirt order. *** was helpful and responsive throughout the process and helped us get the best deal for our requirements. The jumpers were not only looked exactly as we hoped but arrived early too. Thanks, Shirtworks!

- Lauren

*** was friendly and helpful over the phone and *** was patient and very quick to respond to alterations to the mock-ups. The t-shirts were delivered on time. The print quality is perfect. You've made us very happy and I'm looking forward to placing further orders with you.

- Chris