How do you handle your pre-press process for screen printing jobs? In a perfect world you could set up your screens and start printing from the word GO. In reality, this rarely happens. Do you test on traditional pellons? Use old leftover misprinted shirts? Have you been doing it the same way for years? We are all looking for an affordable solution to set up our presses quickly and produce the best possible print.
Let’s think about the reasons to do a screen printing test print. Aside from the obvious registration of multi color jobs, there are multiple factors that also need to be tested before a print run:
- What does the actual print look like?
- Is the print crisp and clear?
- Are the inks opaque?
- Is the print affected by the garment fibers?
- Are there bleeding or alignment issues?
Traditional pre-press methods can only go so far in answering these questions. Let’s look at each of them.
Test printing on Pellons: They are fast loading and flat when printing. They are relatively inexpensive. However, they are only available in black or white. It’s impossible to truly test colors when your job is running on red or blue. Pellons curl up and shrink when flash cured, making registration difficult to judge. The composition of pellons won’t help you to know how the print will feel on an actual shirt. To finalize your pre-press, you must print on your actual garment, potentially wasting good stock.
Test printing on old shirts: This is the closest you will get to printing on your actual job stock, if you are lucky enough to have something on hand. You can judge your ink colors better if the old shirt is close in color tone to your job. You can inspect the print quality to determine whether you will need to add a second stroke. This is cost effective because these old shirts take up space in your shop, but spending time digging through the box to find the best one to test print will quickly eat up any savings, not to mention time spent cleaning up the usual dirt and dust they manage to transfer to your screens and pallets.
Screen Printing Tubes: The Better Solution
Now let’s look at our new updated alternative to these traditional methods of test printing – Screen Print Tubes! These are tee shirts without sleeves or collar. Packaged flat, they handle as easily as pellons. They come in assorted colors to better allow you to match your test print with your actual job stock. They feed quickly on the platen. They react to flash curing just like a real t-shirt. They have all the good points of traditional methods, with none of the drawbacks.
The best part about Screen Print Tubes is the ability to use them over and over on several different jobs. Depending on the overall size of your print, you can expect to get 3-4 tests on a single side, and double that by turning the tube inside out. Printing several times side-by-side allows you to see how changes affect the final print, such as adding an extra stroke. Finally, Screen Print Tubes can be sent through the dryer to match the actual result of printing on your job stock, giving you the ability to judge the final feel of a print that will meet the expectations of even the pickiest customer. They can be easily saved to provide a clean record of your job as well, and consulted when you need to run the job again.
Ultimately, the purpose of pre-press test prints are to perfect your job before you begin. Screen print tubes save time and money by giving you better options from the start.