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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

Designing these types of designs can be a little tricky because the background graphics have to work for a variety of typographic changes. It will sometimes seem inevitable that a client with 45 letters in its name will want to try to jam it all into the stencil area. The goal is to make the embellishment underneath work for the majority of simple names and not to get too caught up with exceptions. Most of the time, if the client is excited enough, they will be okay with the extra cost of doing a separate run (as long as they have enough quantity to justify it), and it will be a moot point if their name doesn’t fit or if they must have their logo with the giant panda in it.

It is especially important when creating stencil designs for mass production that the colors underneath have a good balance from the top to the bottom of the potential image area. Test the design with a couple of different name sizes and types (with ascenders and descenders in the fonts) to help isolate any potential problems that will crop up during production.

One other development issue that is more design specific is when the background image has asymmetry or specific points of high interest that need to be shown through the front type graphic for it to look good. In these cases, it is a sales and marketing job to define when the graphic will work and when the name drop just won’t look good.

In the example graphic, the type that will be stenciled out of the background needs to be very simple so that the front of the design shows the proper imagery in the right places (Figure 5). This stencil style is more of a hassle on the preproduction end because each name drop will have to be carefully manipulated to make certain that it will display the background in the proper places. The final effect can be very dramatic and worth it. This style of stencil will have to be tested and will probably have a type-character limit to keep it from being mashed together. The burden can be placed on sales to communicate this with interested clients.


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