Recap: The Complete Screen Printing Business Course

Terry Combs, Atlas Screen Supply team offer hands-on training.

Screen Printing magazine’s Associate Editor Kiersten Wones and Assistant Editor Kelsey Johnson traveled to the Atlas Screen Supply facility outside of Chicago for Terry Combs’ Complete Screen Printing Business Course over the weekend of June 10-11. Seventeen other screen printing hopefuls from as far away as Florida and North Dakota attended the two-day class. Some brought experience in the sign business, DTG printing, and embroidery; others hailed from industries from real estate to firefighting. But we all shared one thing: We were total beginners.

Combs and the Atlas team led a variety of hands-on and classroom sessions covering everything from screen printing a one-color white shirt on a manual press to pricing, specialty inks, and prepress tips. In the classroom, Combs described each step of the screen printing process and business and thoroughly answered all questions that popped up from the inquisitive audience. Future entrepreneurs came away with a good understanding of all the machines and materials needed to open up shop; the different types of squeegees, mesh counts, and inks required for various jobs; tips and tricks for marketing a business, ranging from business card design to naming your shop; and more.

We printed four T-shirts with plastisol inks: a one-color on white, a four-color on white, a five-color simulated process print on black, and a black shirt with puff ink and foil. Trial and error was the name of the game; it took most students four or five squeegee strokes to lay down ink on our first shirt. By the end of the second day, we’d all settled into a rhythm.

We also degreased, coated, and burned screens; flash cured white underbase for a full-color print; ran shirts through a conveyor dryer and measured ink temperature to ensure proper curing; and learned the secret to setting up a multicolor job in under five minutes. With plenty of networking opportunities, class members graduated with not only a firm understanding of the screen printing industry, but also connections to other screen printers getting started across the Midwest.

Check out the rest of Atlas Screen Supply’s 2017 educational schedule.

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