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The screen printing process or silk screen printing is a printing technique particularly suited for flat or relatively flat surfaces. The heart of the process involves a fine mesh or screen that is tightly stretched around a rigid frame. The areas that are not to be printed are masked out on the screen, and to create the print, the framed screen is positioned over the item to be printed, along with a dollop of thick ink. A squeegee is then used to press the ink through the screen.
The masked areas prevent ink from passing through, but the unmasked areas allow the ink to be imprinted on the material. The item is then sent on a conveyor belt through a heat-tunnel. This curing process ensures that the inks dry quickly so that they materials can be stacked or packaged. Properly cured inks will remain on the printed substrate even under harsh conditions.
If more colors are desired in the final design, the process is repeated with different screens. A design that requires four different colors would, therefore, require four different screens. The screens are usually placed on a rotary press that allows the different color prints to be properly aligned or registered with each other. Some screen-printers have fully automatic presses that do not require any manual labor other than set-up and loading/unloading.