Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil to receive a desired image. The stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing ink into the mesh openings for transfer during the squeegee stroke. Basically, it is the process of using a stencil to apply ink onto a substrate, whether it be t-shirts, posters, stickers, vinyl, wood, or other material.
Screen printing is also a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of polyester or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance. Ink is forced into the mesh openings by the squeegee and onto the printing surface during the squeegee stroke. It is also known as silkscreen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing. One colour is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image or design.
There are various terms used for what is essentially the same technique. Traditionally the process was called screen printing or silkscreen printing because silk was used in the process prior to the invention of polyester mesh. Currently, synthetic threads are commonly used in the screen printing process. The most popular mesh in general use is made of polyester. There are special-use mesh materials of nylon and stainless steel available to the screen printer. There are also different types of mesh size which will determine the outcome and look of the finished design on the material.