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Screen Print Lingo - Learn to Talk the Talk

Updated: May 9, 2023

When you call and speak to our sales team about a screen print order there might be some things said that you're not familiar with especially if you're not a regular customer. Our sales team will no doubt walk you through and help you understand but if you want some clif notes to sound like you're up to speed you're in the right place.


Talk The Talk Blog

Here is a list of some common terminology we use in screen printing with a brief description:


Automatic: A press used to screen print that is machine controlled.

Bleed: An issue common with polyester and 50/50 garments when the fabric dye migrates into the screen printing ink. We have our eye on this and use bleed resistant inks to prevent this.

Color Change: When a color change is required for the artwork. Ex. You order shirts with black text. The print works great on the red shirts but uh-oh you also ordered navy shirts, we're going to have to make a color change for that text so that your design is completely visible.

Color Separations: A term used for Simulated Process design (we'll explain later). The artwork is made of many colors and the process to make these colors work as a screen printable design starts with the separations or seps for short.

Contract Printing: Printing on customer supplied garments. We no longer offer this service. :(

Cure: To bake the ink under heat. This makes your print lasting, if there is ever cracking or extreme fading of a graphic it is due to not properly curing.

Digital Transfer: A digitally printed graphic onto a film that is applied to a garment with a heat press.

Dye Migration: Refer to bleed. When dye from the fabric, bleeds into the printed graphic. Typically happens with camouflage garments, polyester, and some 50/50 blends.

Halftone: Dot patterns in artwork. In spot color prints (see below) this can be used to create shadows or just serve as a visual design element. In simulated process (see below) art is made of halftones to allow the ink to blend in a way to create the full color range.

Heat Transfer: There are vinyl heat transfers and screen printed heat transfers. Vinyl is used more for personalization but can be used for logos and simple designs. Screen printed heat transfers are transfers made with screen print ink and are used for smaller more detailed prints.

Knockout: Where the shirt color can be used in the design to add an additional "color" or save money on adding another screen.

Location: Where a print is located on a garment.

Manual: A human operated screen print press. Same results achieved as an automatic machine but it is typically reserved for orders under 50 pieces.

Misprint: A print error. We don't do...

Pixilated: Blurry artwork that you can see the squares or pixels that make up an image. Our artists hate working with these so the crisper the photo or art idea you have the happier they'll be.

Registration: The alignment of all the colors in designs. Misalignment could be colors touching that shouldn't or the white underlay showing from under a design.

Scorch: The slight burning of a garment due to over flashing. Flashing is the slight curing of inks to allow the next color to be printed.

Simulated Process: A style of printing where you can achieve near photorealistic prints. This is done by blending a combination of around 8 colors and create full color art.

Soft Hand: The feel of the print on your garment. The goal is to have a print that you can barely feel, of course certain graphics take more ink to achieve the desired results but our goal is to have a soft hand.

Special Effect Inks: There are inks on the market that provide unique results. Puff, glow-in-the-dark, metallic and more. These can be used to enhance your designs.

Spot Print: The most common screen printing style. Artwork is generally based on shapes, and usually contains 1-8 individual colors.

Sublimation: Sublimation is a heat applied dye used on polyester. The dye is applied much like a transfer but it enters completely into the fabric and does not sit on top common with professional style jerseys, leotards, singlets, etc. We do not offer this service.

Substrate: The garment/object being printed. It is possible to print things other than clothing. Towels, blankets, bandanas, if its fabric and can lay flat on our press we may be able to print it.

Underlay: A base layer for artwork used on darker garments. This is like a primer for painting. The underlay is white and allows other colors to maintain vibrancy and not muted by the garment color.

Vector: The artwork used for screen printing. Our artists convert jpegs and png's to vector art to create the screens used to print.

White/Negative Space: The blank area in the design. This is important aesthetically to have a white space balance create a more visually appealing design.


Now that you've learned a few terms you have more insight into how we go about our process and the things we look out for. You're ready to order your next custom shirts so give Bender Apparel a call at 888-222-9542.



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