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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK.. I'll start from the top..

I have been screen printing for a couple of years now, only doing spot color set-ups. I have been wanting to get into higher end prints, simulated process and 4 color etc. I have no experience in these methods, so I am as green as it gets when it comes to these kinds of prints.

I have an opportunity for a large job to come in to our shop, and would like to not say "No, I can't print that.."

So.. I was wondering if anyone had some recommendations on a couple of things -

A printer - Epson? Any other brands that are reasonably priced, but will print post-script dot patterns for us to do process printing. I need large format printer, which will print separations at least 17x17 in size.

A separation program - I need something that will separate the artwork into the channels needed for 4 color and simulated process. I am currently using AI CS3 and PS CS3 - Can I do this with these programs, or does anyone recommend a separate software or plug-in?

Inks - I have read that I can use standard inks for simulated process prints, and of course the process inks for CMYK 4 Color, but is there any other inks I should look into to make this printing more streamlined, and less headache :)

Price Quote - I have been pricing only spot color designs, and am about clueless as to what kind of pricing goes into simulated process and 4 color process.

I am manual press facility, so we do everything by hand. Is there anything I should be mindful of about printing these methods manually?

I know there will be a learning curve when it comes to this type of printing, so any advice from the professionals that have been doing this for a while is so much appreciated.

I have attached a link of the full color print they want. They need 650 pcs printed. Could anyone give me a ball park figure on what these would cost to print? I get my blanks at wholesale, so I am trying to figure a cost with print. Not looking to outsource these, I really want to dig in and learn how to do this myself. I know I can be successful at this, but would appreciate some guidance.

DIGITAL PHOTO AND DESIGN, LLC :: Photo & Graphic Design Services :: From Business Cards to Billboards | City of Amory 125th Anniversary Logo Designs | Photo 1

Thank you so much in advance, I am quite desperate to have some of these questions answered.

Best Regards,

Sam
 

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moving from basic spot prints to what your client is asking for will be a challenge. you're moving from low detail designs to high detail designs, this means dialling in all your steps from exposure to printing technique.
In my opinion, the design they want done would be best approached with CMYK if going on a white ground. the colours will not be accurate and the client should be aware of this (blues may be more purple as an example).
How many colours can your press hold? i think you'd need at least 8 colours to get a decent reproduction with simulated process or even index.
if you've never exposed halftone dots before, that will be your first thing to dial in. using a step wedge test and halftone calibration pattern you will need to see how much detail you can capture with your equipment/materials. 280 mesh would be best to start with for CMYK prints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Red514

Thank you for the reply!

I am not sure what color tshirt they have decided to go with at this time. I would assume if it is a colored shirt, we will have to put a white underbase. My fingers are crossed they want these printed on a white tee. I can't see printing a solid spot of white on the shirt and printing the color on top of that as an option.. it would be too heavy of a print, and I'm not down with that. So am I looking at a 4 color, plus white for highlights?

I have just recently purchased 305 mesh screens from my supplier, and can get 280 mesh I believe. I also have a few 230 mesh screens here on hand as well.

I have an 8 color machine, but have had problems with a couple of the arms staying registered. I realize this may be a bigger issue with such fine dot patterns, the registration having to be spot on.

I have printed halftone dots before, but never calibrated my exposure time with the dots. My experience has been using a filter in photoshop to get the halftone pattern, as the computer printer I have now is older than me.. and is not post script capable.

Could you give me a little more detail on a "step wedge" test? Will I have to have a post script printer to do this?

Thanks again!

Sam
 

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I can't see printing a solid spot of white on the shirt and printing the color on top of that as an option.. it would be too heavy of a print, and I'm not down with that. So am I looking at a 4 color, plus white for highlights?

I have just recently purchased 305 mesh screens from my supplier, and can get 280 mesh I believe. I also have a few 230 mesh screens here on hand as well.

I have an 8 color machine, but have had problems with a couple of the arms staying registered. I realize this may be a bigger issue with such fine dot patterns, the registration having to be spot on.

I have printed halftone dots before, but never calibrated my exposure time with the dots. My experience has been using a filter in photoshop to get the halftone pattern, as the computer printer I have now is older than me.. and is not post script capable.

Could you give me a little more detail on a "step wedge" test? Will I have to have a post script printer to do this?

Thanks again!

Sam
regarding the underbase, you can do a halftoned version, it doesn't have to be solid (convert image (original, not the index version) to grayscale, invert to create your underbase)

for the step wedge test, contact your supplier and ask if they sell Stouffer 21 step exposure guide.
you can also try the exposure test BroJames posted Step Wedge Exposure calculator - T-Shirt Forums

i also have my own custom halftone step image at different lpi.
The Stouffer 21 step is an actual film and my halftone test strip has the halftone patterns already done, so no RIP needed.
 

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What is the time frame for this prospective job and how much time will you have to get comfortable?

Admittedly having no experience with printing such an image, you should be applauded for your confidence especially for learning as you go on a potential pay job.

You've been given good advice some of which is pretty definitive but actually quite relative such as what's "best". 305 mesh for process is usually the default suggestion. 280 will work but so will 200 for example. One issue with higher mesh counts (the notion to get "greater detail") is that if you press harder to get adequate coverage, you may lose detail from the inherent dot gain. Contrary to some assumptions, the goal is to use as coarse a line count as possible and still get a good looking image, color/gray-dark area balance and consistency from print to print. There are color gamut limitations with process that are oft times compensated for by printing additional spot colors and whites. And even on white, sometimes a white underbase is used to optimize the results. Index separations are a very viable option and would somewhat address issues such as print-to-print consistency and overall image accuracy. If you've got the option of producing actual print samples for review try both and maybe Simulated.

And you might consider jobbing out the separations. If so find someone with a good solid knowledge of and background in screen printing. Remember though that the final end result will only be as good as the printers skills and abilities.

And either way be clear with the client on what they expect. I've seen some jobs accepted and passable because the shirts were giveaways for volunteers and promotion. And there are folk who are very critical and demanding.

Post what works out and some print pics and good luck.
 
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