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Separations in Screen Printing for Variable Data

(June 2011) posted on Tue Jun 21, 2011

Trimingham explores techniques that allow printers to satisfy different clients with the same designs.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Design and separation for variable-data screen prints
The goal of having a name drop shirt that doesn’t look like it was a name drop is a challenge that needs forethought to make it production-friendly when it is first being created. It is ok to have a design that is simple and clear, but for a shared design to define a higher value, it will often need to spark some interest and look more like a custom piece of artwork than a quick identification piece.

The simplest version of a name-drop design typically will have the name arched over or under a curved element in the design, then the graphic will have this screen line up with the other colors that have been previously placed into the press. One option that can save time and money is to have the separations replicate just the name drop several times on a screen rather than create one whole new screen for each name. Depending on the wiggle room in your press, you can often create four to six name drops on a screen and then slide the screen out a little for each one. If you’re printing manually, this process can even be quicker, depending upon the design. The drawback to doing it this way is that you will end up having two trap colors and there may be a little ink pick-up on the back of the name drop screen that you will have to watch for as you slide it out and change names—unless you flash in between the final color and the name drop.


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