Learn Screen Printing Terminology

Learn Screen Printing Terminology


So, you’ve decided you want to try screen printing. That’s great! Screen printing is a lot of fun and a great way to use your creativity to express yourself artistically. Now what? Where do you even begin?

Sometimes the hardest part is getting started, especially when you have no idea what you’re talking about. The following is a guide to some of the basic terminology for terms screen printing pros use. Having having a basic understanding will help you go into any supply store, printing shop or art store and get the products you will need to get started on your screen printing projects.


Basic Screen Printing Terminology:

  • Substrate: Term for the item that is being printed.
  • Stencil: The portion of an exposed screen containing the image to be printed.
  • Squeegee: Wooden or metal handled tool with a rubber blade used to drive ink through a stencil by pulling the squeegee across the screen.
  • Mesh: Woven material that makes up the printable portion of the screen.
  • Underbase: A thin coating of ink printed first and cured to act as a base for which all other colors are to be printed on. Underbasing is usually required when printing multi-color designs on colored shirts.
  • Retensionable Frames: Special frames that allow the mesh to be applied over the screen without the use of adhesives or stretching equipment. The mesh is drawn tightly over the frame using either a roller or telescopic tightening system.
  • Registration: The process of lining up the screen image to the original art and/or separations on a printing press and/or exposure unit.
  • Print Side: The side of the screen that touches the substrate being printed on.
  • Emulsion: Photosensitive chemical in either liquid, roll or sheet form that is applied to a screen and used for the purpose of making a stencil.
  • Cure: The process of using heat to completely fuse plastisol ink. Technically incorrect term for “drying” ink.


These are just a few of the terms and their meanings that should get you started. If you have questions about screen printing or what we can do here, contact us. IMAGEscapes takes pride in providing quality and service above all else for our customers. We’ve been screen printing since 2002 and we’d love to work with you.



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