As traditional commercial markets for screen printing have been squeezed on one end by inkjet and on the other by offset, industrial applications where screen printing’s unique combination of characteristics remains unmatched have flourished.
By Mike Young
Our special "SWOT: Changes & Challenges" issue brings industry experts together to consider strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to screen printing. Young headlines the "Strengths" section, championing the use of screen printing in the functional and industrial printing sectors.
One of the remarkable and inspiring strengths of screen printing today – and perhaps its most beautiful attribute – goes totally unnoticed by most people. Though largely unaware of its presence, the public-at-large constantly looks at, feels, smells, senses, and further admires screen-printed items. These products inform, create curiosity, captivate, and provoke actions among viewers who remain unaware of screen printing’s uncelebrated and relentless ingenuity. What other process can claim such a pervasive presence in our lives? While the benefits of screen printing go unnoticed by the masses, we as humans are nonetheless inexorably surrounded by how much it touches our very presence in society – at home, work, and play.
Modern screen printing has evolved from the days when the Marlboro Man dotted highway billboards and in-store displays cluttered Old Navy locations everywhere, to more industrial applications in electronics, medicine, and a multitude of others. The shift away from the traditional commercial-graphics base had little to do with digital printing soaking up business that screen could not efficiently or economically handle; rather, it has come from the tremendous uptick in demand for goods that require screen printing as part of the manufacturing process.
Less than half a century ago, the functions of most equipment and consumer products were controlled by analog means (wires, switches/levers, knobs, lamps, and even valves). This meant they were typically bulky, heavy, often clumsy, relatively expensive, and labor intensive to produce, with reliability that was frequently questionable. Screen printing, due to its inherent aptitude for innovation and solving manufacturing challenges, has been employed extensively for fabrication purposes for years. In fact, it helped to revolutionize miniaturization and enhance device dependability, things we simply take for granted today.
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