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I've been battling along trying to get a good hold of the various Tshirt printing options, and have come to the conclusion that for my purposes, screenprinting is the way to go, rather than heat transfer.

I've tried to investigate the process of screenprinting, but without actually having done it myself, or seen it done, I'm finding it hard to really understand everything involved in the process. I have a friend who has done a Fine Arts degree, and she has done some screenprinting as part of her course, and more recently, privately, at her home. No Tshirts - she does her own screenprinted designs of handbags and oven mitts. It's a bit difficult to assess whether her prints are professional enough to work on a Tshirt. Anyway...

She has advised me to buy aluminium frames, create acetates from my designs, and have a local screenprinter set up the screens from the acetates, so that I can then take my screens home and learn-on-the-job to screenprint Tshirts, using old sheets or something to practise on. She says it is easily possible to put a wooden straight edge on a heavy wooden table, and to do the screenprinting on the table. All very long-winded - sorry!

My question is, how easy is it to create your own acetates? My friend swears it's a simple matter of buying the transparent acetate sheets from an art shop for a few bucks, then photocopying a JPEG file design printed out on paper straight on to the acetate using a normal photocopier (separated if more than one colour).

I'm ok with the design part (I use PhotoShop and am moving on to Illustrator by degrees), but I can't understand why screenprinters charge quite a lot to create the acetates when you give them your design, if it's as simple as photocopying your graphics file on to paper, then photocopying on to acetate.

Could someone who really knows their stuff with screenprinting please advise whether my friend's advice is accurate re creating acetates in this way? Is it possible, firstly, and if yes, is the quality sufficiently high to prepare a screen from an acetate made this way?

OR, have I got everything messed up in my head, and need to be put back on track? Would be really appreciative of some truly informed advice here.

Cheers

Ross
 

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Its not that simple. If you supply a design the screenprinters artist has to spend time separating the colors to create the films/acetates.

If your designs are simple one colors than you can create them yourself by printing from your program to the acetate yourself.

Separating art is not something easily learned, thus the charges, also most screenprinters have lots of money invested into printers or imagesetters and use high quality films and not acetates.

The quality of tusing acetates will be determined on the art your tryiing to reproduce. again, if it is simple, solid images, you will probably be just fine. If the art is involved, has lots of halftones and tiny detail, your going to need something better.
 
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