STL Shirt Co. is one of the top t-shirt printing companies for individuals, families, and businesses in the Knoxville, TN area. For almost 50 years, members of the Knoxville, TN community and beyond have counted on us for all of their screen printing and embroidery needs. We stand out as the t-shirt printing company of choice in the Knoxville, TN area due to our commitment to quality and service to our customers. You may have more questions about our capabilities and services, how we do it, or how to place your order. Have your questions answered or start your order by giving us a call at 636-926-2777 or sending us a message at 636-299-0162 today.
How it Works
Placing a custom t-shirt printing order may seem a bit mysterous. 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. One might go so far as to call it magic, but we aren’t one to toot our own horn. For those who have never experienced the process, 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 your upcoming event, club, sports team, or some other use. You contact your shop to place the order and that is where the Knoxville, TN t-shirt printing journey begins. When you order your shirts, you will have to decide on the:
- Shirt brand, style, material, and color
- Ink type and color(s)
- The design you want printed
! STL Shirt Co. can give you guidance and help through every step of the t-shirt printing process. Our professional screen printers and designers are available to help you. If you need help coming up with a killer logo or shirt design, work with our professional design team. We can also help you select the right shirt and ink colors.
STEP TWO – We make the screen
After you decide on a design, we get to work on preparing the screen that will be used to print the design on your shirts. First, we print the design on a transparent sheet of film. Based on your unique parameters, our t-shirt printing experts will select the best mesh screen to use in printing your shirts. To the screen, we apply a photo-sensitive substance called emulsion. We place the film with your design on it on the screen and the screen is exposed to light. The design on the film blocks the light from reaching the coated screen in the shape of your design, but the rest of the emulsion hardens in the light. This creates the stencil.
If your design involves multiple ink colors, we repeat the process above, making a screen for each color in the design.
STEP THREE – We print.
Now we are ready for the ink. Screen printing such as t-shirt printing typically uses a special ink called plastisol. You might have noticed that the prints on shirts are slightly textured, a little rubbery, but still smooth and flexible. What you are feeling is the plastisol ink. Plastisol is ideal for screen printing because it withstands washes, moves with the fabric material of your shirt, and shows up vibrantly on a shirt of any color.
We then secure the screens to a printing press, and each shirt is placed on a plate below. We work deliberately to line everything up precisely so to make sure the design is printed in the right position on your t-shirt. We add ink on top of the screen and use a squeegee from end to end of the screen to apply and press the ink onto the shirt. We repeat this for every single t-shirt in your order. For designs with several colors, we repeat it for each color on every shirt. There is an art to applying the ink precisely to where it looks bright and retains the sharp lines in the original design. Lucky for you, our t-shirt printing team has mad skills.
STEP FOUR – The ink cures.
Now your awesome design is on your shirts! But there is still one more step. Once the ink is applied as a viscous liquid, it must be cured. In other words, the ink must be transformed into a solid so it becomes permanent on your t-shirts. To make this happen we introduce the ink to heat. Ink curing is a science, and it’s possible to damage the shirt or the print if you use the wrong temperature or cure it for the wrong length of time. You can rest assured that we have the curing process figured out, 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 the shirts up neatly and hand them off to you. We can have your shirts or other items printed and packaged within only a handful of days. Ask us about having your order shipped to you. For those last-minute situations when you need your t-shirts ready in a week or less, use our rush printing services.