STL Shirt Co. is one of the top t-shirt printing companies serving individuals, groups, and organizations in the Ann Arbor, MI area. For almost 50 years, members of the Ann Arbor, MI community and beyond have counted on us for all of their screen printing and embroidery needs. Our Ann Arbor, MI t-shirt printing abilities and excellent customer service set us apart. You may be wondering about what we can do for you, how we do it, or how to place your order. Have your questions answered or begin your order by calling us at 636-926-2777 or sending us a message at 636-299-0162 today.
How it Works
Custom t-shirt printing orders may come with an air of mystery. You put in your t-shirt printing order to your favorite screen printer and, a few days later, you have fresh-pressed, neatly boxed t-shirts on your doorstep or waiting for you at the shop. We wouldn’t blame you if you described it as magic. To the unfamiliar, t-shirt printing is a mysterious endeavor. Many of our t-shirt printing customers come to us for special occasions and events, so we understand the excitement that surrounds these shirts. Have you ever wondered about the journey that plain cotton tee has gone through to become the beauty you see hanging in your closet or reflected in the mirror today?
The T-Shirt Printing Process
STEP ONE – Place your order.
You’ve determined you need to have some t-shirt printing done for some upcoming occassion, school group, sports team, or some other use. You place the order and the Ann Arbor, MI t-shirt printing process is set into motion. When you order your shirts, you will have to determine the:
- What color, brand, style, and material the shirts will be
- Ink type and color(s)
- Design to be printed
If this already feels overwhelming, don’t fret! STL Shirt Co. can give you counsel and support through the entire t-shirt printing process. Our expert screen printing artists and designers are at your disposal. If you need help coming up with a killer logo or shirt design, rely on our professional design team. We can also help you select the right shirt and ink colors.
STEP TWO – We create the screen
Once you decide on a design, we go about making the screen that allows us to get your design printed on your shirts. First, we print the design on a transparent sheet of film. Depending on the specifics of your order, our t-shirt printing team will select the best mesh screen for your order. To the screen, we apply a substance called emulsion, which is sensitive to light. That film we printed your design on is placed on the screen and we expose the screen to light. Light is blocked from reaching the screen wherever the design is on the film and the rest of the emulsion hardens in the light. This creates the stencil.
If your design involves multiple ink colors, we go through the same process for for each color in the design.
STEP THREE – We print.
This is where the ink comes in. T-shirt printing and other screen printing typically uses a special ink called plastisol. Have you ever noticed how, on a printed shirt, you can feel the texture of the design, but it is still soft and flexible? What you are feeling is the plastisol ink. Plastisol works well for screen printing because it withstands washes, moves with the fabric material of your shirt, and shows up vibrantly on any color t-shirt.
We then secure the screens to a printing press, with each shirt pulled taut and placed on a plate below. We work deliberately to make sure everything is registered and lined up exactly so we know that your design will end up in the right place on your t-shirt. We apply ink onto the screen and pull a squeegee across the entire screen to smooth and press the ink onto the shirt. This process is repeated for every single t-shirt we print. For designs with several colors, we repeat it for each color on every shirt. It takes skill to get the ink just right so it shows up nicely and retains the sharp lines from your original design. Lucky for you, our t-shirt printing team has mad skills.
STEP FOUR – The ink cures.
The ink is now on your shirts! But there is still one more step. After the ink is applied, the ink has to cure. This means we have to turn the ink from a liquid into a solid so it stays on your t-shirts. To do this we introduce the ink to heat. It takes research and trial and error to perfect the curing process. It is possible to damage the shirt or the print when you don’t use the correct temperature or amount of time. We know what we’re doing, though, so you know your prints will turn out great.
STEP FIVE – You get your shirts!
After the ink is cured, your t-shirts are officially printed! We fold them up neatly and hand the finished product off to you. We will package them up and have your shirts or other printed items ready in only a handful of days. If you need it, ask us about shipping your order to you. If you find your self in a tight spot and need your t-shirts ready in a week or less, we even offer rush printing services.