Understanding Screen Printing

1 Understanding Screen Printing

1. What are the minimum order requirements?

Screen Printed Apparel:

  • For 1-color imprints, the minimum order size is 24 pieces per design.
  • For multi-color imprints, the minimum order size is 48 pieces per design.

2. What will determine my pricing?

Order Quantity:

  • The larger the quantity of shirts that you order (per design), the lower your price.
  • Quantity price breaks: 12, 24, 48, 72, 144, 288, 500, 1,000+

Garment Quality (Cost):

  • Typically, the higher the quality of the blank garment, the higher the cost.
  • Fortunately, we have a wide range of products for every budget.

Screen Print Pricing:

  • The greater the number of imprint colors in your design, the greater the cost to print.
  • The greater the number of imprint locations, the greater the cost to print.
  • Example: Printing just one side of the shirt costs less than printing both sides of the shirt.

3. What are the setup charges?

Screen Charges:

  • A large mesh screen is created to form a stencil for each of your imprint colors and imprint locations.
  • This preparation is done in a dark room using chemicals, water pressure, and light curing equipment.
  • The screens are recycled (cleaned, reclaimed, and reused) after each job is printed.
  • New orders – $15.00 per screen
  • Repeat orders – $10.00 per screen
  • Example: An order with a 2 color front imprint and a 3 color back imprint would require 5 total screens.

Art/film Charges:

  • All new artwork has to pass through our graphic department for inspection and to create films.
  • Films are paper sheets, printed with each section of your logo, that are used to create screens.
  • We must review your artwork before quoting the art/film charge, as each file is unique.

4. What are your turnaround times?

First Come, First Serve

  • We have a “first come, first serve” policy to be fair to all of our clients.
  • To secure a place on our production schedule, we recommend calling as far in advance as you can.
  • Once we know of your deadline, we can give you our deadline for submitting artwork and shirt sizes.

Finalizing Details

  • There are many details involved in selecting shirt styles, collecting sizes, and approving artwork.
  • Your order is only considered “an order” by us once you have finalized all of these details.

Average Turnaround Time

  • The average turnaround time is approximately 2 weeks after art approval and final order submission.
  • During busy months, this turnaround time can extend to 3-4 weeks. Please contact us for details.
  • Any changes made to artwork or shirt sizes may delay your order in the production process.

5. What types of artwork files are needed?

Vector Files

  • Ideally, you’ll be supplying a vector file that has been spot color separated (or is only 1 color).
  • It’s also advisable to convert all fonts to outlines to avoid accidental font conversions.
  • Acceptable vector file types: .pdf, .eps, or .ai

Raster Files

  • If you are unable to obtain a color-separated vector art file from your designer, don’t panic.
  • Our graphic department bills at only $40.00/hour, and we can quote you on doing the work for you.
  • Examples of raster files are: .jpeg, .tiff, and .gif

Vector Vs. Raster

  • Vector graphics are scalable (can be made larger or smaller) without the image pixilating.
  • Raster graphics are not scalable. You can’t make them any bigger than they appear on your screen.
  • If you attempt to make a raster file larger, the image will pixilate (get uneven edges).

6. How does “screen printing” work?

Screen Printing at Koala Tee

  • The type of garment printing that we do at Koala Tee is called screen printing, also known as silkscreen printing.
  • This printing technique involves large mesh screens, exposure units, plastisol inks, and a set of Koala Tee employees to complete the process.

In the Art Room

  • We start with your supplied artwork (or create new artwork for you) and determine the exact imprint size and colors for your design.
  • Our graphic artist then separates your logo by imprint color on the computer and prints out paper films for each imprint color in your design.

In the Screen Room

  • Our screen developer takes a blank screen (similar to a window screen) and coats it with a paste-like substance called emulsion.
  • He then tapes the paper films with each section of your design onto individual screens, making sure that each section is in registration.
  • Next, the screens are placed into an exposure unit where a light hardens the emulsion wherever the artwork is not blocking the light.
  • The screen is then taken to a large sink where the screen is rinsed with a pressure washer.
  • Where the artwork was blocking the light, the emulsion washes away, creating a stencil for that section of the design.

On the Production Presses

  • A screen printer sets up each screen and the appropriate inks on his or her press, ensuring that they are in registration.
  • They then load each garment onto a flat board, called a pallet, similar to a large cutting board in your kitchen.
  • Each screen is then lowered over the garment, and a squeegee is pulled across the top of the screen, allowing ink to pass through the mesh stencil and onto your garment.
  • The screens/pallets are rotated until all sections/colors of your design have been printed onto your garment.
  • Your garment is then pulled off of the pallet and placed on a large dryer belt to enter a giant oven, similar to a pizza oven, which will cure the ink.
  • Once the garment has passed through the oven, a quality control specialist inspects, counts, folds, and boxes your decorated items.
  • The screens are then recycled (cleaned, reclaimed, and reused) after each job is printed, and the process begins again.

7. How can I best care for my screen printed garments?


  • With gentle care, the ink on your screen printed shirt should last for many years to come.
  • Light colored inks on dark garments will likely break down in the washer/dryer sooner than dark colored inks on light garments because they are applied with a thicker coat to ensure the best coverage.
  • To best preserve your imprint, wash your screen printed garments inside out.
  • Avoid washing your screen printed t-shirts with abrasive items like rough towels, jeans, or shorts with velcro pockets.


  • Do NOT iron over the top of your imprint. It could damage both the imprint and your iron.
  • If you must iron your garment, turn it inside out to do so.