User login

Preparing Digital Files for Screen Printing

(October 2002) posted on Wed Oct 09, 2002

Learn how to make other types of artwork fit the screen-printing mold.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Mark A. Coudray

The stress on production efficiency and fast turnaround has its roots in the ever-increasing speed of computers. It seems like just yesterday (I think it was, really) when a 100-MHz processor was considered blazingly fast. But according to Moore's Curve, processing speed will double approximately every 18 months.


This principle has proven remarkably accurate since it was introduced at the end of the 1950s. And following its predictions, by the year 2000, we will be using desktop computers with processing speeds in excess of 800 MHz. (High-end workstations, such as the DEC Alpha, currently run faster than 1000 MHz. But these machines rate a few notches--and dollars--higher than a conventional desktop system.)


Along with faster processors comes software that is more and more complex and feature loaded. Consequently, our customers have developed the expectation that with all this hardware and software power at our disposal, we should be able to turn a job around almost instantly. Don't we all wish it was so!


The fact is, raw speed does little to streamline prepress or production if the files we receive are improperly prepared for screen printing. And the situations in which files most often fall short include the following: improper placement of graphic elements or trapping, which make it necessary to rework a file extensively images of the wrong resolution for the needed print size color-separation decisions (screen angles, dot gain, etc.) made for lithography or another end use that has little or no bearing on how we use process color in screen printing choices for proofing the digital image that may provide an inaccurate representation of the final screen-printed piece.


While this list may seem extensive, we can take several specific actions to improve the quality of the files we work with and the overall efficiency and accuracy of the process. Setting those heavy traps... <P><B>Placement and trapping issues</B>


The first area where digital designs fall apart in terms of their usefulness to the screen printer is in the placement and trapping of graphic elements. Because the images we print may start as digital files prepared for print ads or some other non-screen-printed application, graphic elements within a design may be arranged too tightly to support the more limited resolution capabilities of our process.



Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.