Intro to Screen Printing

Screen Printing

In the simplest terms, modern screen printing is a method of transferring ink onto a receivable surface. The process calls for a handful of items such as emulsion, inks, screens, frames, squeegees, and lights. However these are all fairly inexpensive items. This method can be used to apply designs to more than just clothing, but objects like balloons, electronics, machines, signs, decals, and much more.

The screen and frame method does take a bit of time, however the precision and quality is arguably a step up from a similarly popular "screen" printing method known as heat pressing. This method only requires a heat press machine and transfer paper, and only takes around 30 seconds to have a finished product. There are a few differences in the types and utilities of a heat press which you can see in the second section of this guide (below). 

Screen & Frame Method

(A. Ink. B. Squeegee. C. Image. D. Photo-emulsion. E. Screen. F. Printed image.)


Heat Press Method


Clamshell Heat Press


  • Hinged, opens & closes from side only.
  • Simple to use with few operating steps.


  • Thick fabrics can be difficult to operate on.
  • Applying even pressure can take some getting used to due to how the plate comes down.

Swing-away Heat Press


  • More flexible than the clamshell; the upper plate can rotate away from the bottom plate.
  • This offers more precision when arranging and designing on garments.
  • Less chance for injury with heat off to the side instead of above your working area.
  • More even pressure.


  • Can take longer than clamshell because it takes more steps per print.
  • Slightly more space needed and not as straightforward as the clamshell.

Choosing a heat press

  • High volume t-shirt printing often benefit from the clamshell press due to time efficiency and easy of use.
  • Swing-away presses are better for garments with layered designs due the greater precision offered. 

Factors to consider with a heat press

  • Temperature range, heat plate size, precision, price, automatic & digital features.


There are still many nuances of screen printing that have not been covered and will be added to this guide. If you have any suggestions or would like to add a guide of your own, please feel free to contact me.