Picture of Screen printing with vinyl
In this instructable Im going to show you how to screen print without the expensive, time consuming, dark room needing, messy photo emulsion! 

So here is what you need.

1: A vector image to screen print.

2: A blank screen

3: A sign squeegee, or credit card.

4: A vinyl decal or access to a vinyl cutter. 

5: Masking/transfer tape. 

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Step 1: The image to decal

Picture of The image to decal
If you dont have a vinyl cutter (odd are you dont) this is still a useful technique as most high-street Printers/sign-makers/universities will have one, and more importantly if you proved them with the image will make you a decal up for very little as it will probably fit onto a scrap of sign vinyl....  but what ever they charge it will be considerably less then getting a screen made up! 

1: Find the image you want to screen print, and if necessary convert to a vector image. 
(It will need to be vector due to the vinyl cutting stage only working with vectored images.)

2: Cut the image, or get it cut for you!  
(its very important that you ask for it to be a negative of the image, or if your weeding the vinyl yourself you need to weed the line-work from the vinyl)

Step 2: Setting up the screen

Picture of Setting up the screen
Once you have you vinyl decal sticker, your ready to apply it to your screen. 

Your decal will have a wax paper backing sheet and a transfer tape front, you need to peel off the wax backing sheet to expose the sticky vinyl. 

Place the decal sticky side down on the screen and rub it all over with a credit card or sign squeegee.

Now peel off the layer of transfer tape to expose the no sticky side of your vinyl decal.  

drewscreen1 year ago
I have used that vinyl method as a stencil to lay down drawing fluid instead of free-handing the design, then proceeded normally with the rest of the drawing fluid method to produce a robust washable screen that can be stored for months, and used repeatedly on demand. I just use Speedball's drawing fluid & screen filler.
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agguilar2 years ago
if some one needs a design cut on a vinyl cutter let me know i will make and ship the decal 4 some mula :) , send me a email, thanks this is a decal i made for a t shirt
cnludwig3 years ago
Do you have a pic of something you inked that shows your handiwork? I would love to see a shirt or paper showing your screening.
llockridge3 years ago
I screen print as a side business and I sometimes use vinyl for short runs of lettering. You want to put the vinyl on the side of the screen that touches the shirt, not the side that you use the squeegee on. You run the risk of the squeegee getting caught on a piece of vinyl and pulling it from the screen ruining your image. When the vinyl is on the shirt side, it will act as a gasket leaving an ink deposit the height of the vinyl. I'm not saying the way it's done in the 'ible is wrong. I'm just saying that you will be able to produce more shirts with less of a risk of ruining your vinyl stencil.
icecreamterror (author)  llockridge3 years ago
Thanks for the tip, I did try it that way, but got a bit of bleed.

But that was when I was using the cheap vinyl, so will defiantly give it a go now I got sign vinyl.
I suggest you use only Hi Preformance vinyls.
Avery's A 7--A9 are only 2 mil thick, have a aggressive glue & are rated very conformable.
if you need stiffer (2.5 --3mil) use the A 4 up to A 6 series. all manufactures have their own version of Hi Perf.
most any independant Sign shop will sell paper transfer tape and enough vinyl to play with, by the piece. I do for walk ins.
NOTE: I seldom use the clear transfer tape.
Luck to all,
Mr Steve
cj8675 Slim493 years ago
i run a sign shop graphica sign studios. avery isnt good for high performance vinyl. i use arlon instead you get a better result
Slim493 years ago
As a sign maker since '92.
I catell you the easy way to release Hi or Lo tack transfer paper is simple ,just ! wet it
it is a latax glue, so water soulable.:-)
icecreamterror (author)  Slim493 years ago
Very cool tip, thank you!
cengel13 years ago
How do you know what my apartment smells like?! That's creepy.
I would love to see a photo of something that's been screen printed this way. This technique looks very nice, but I'm always curious what the finished product looks like!
I use this technique but have trouble with the transfer to the screen because I do not have a low tack transfer tape. Here is a picture of the results I have had. I find that the sticker is only good for about 5 prints before I start to get color bleed under the edges. So like the author says good for small runs.
Why not spray adhesive after the sticker wears down? You let it sit and dry for a little time before you put adhesive on the shirt and that way the glue doesn't stay on the shirt. Do they have vinyl printers at Kinko's or someplace like that?
Iv not had trouble with color bleed yet, but iv been printing onto aluminum enclosures in batches of 5-10.

regards low tack transfer tape, I find the old school paper based stuff is a lot better then the clear for this process.

really nice results TinkeringProductions !
tubegeek3 years ago
This is an interesting option, and I would imagine that it is easy to get consistent results this way. It could actually be a little more durable than the emulsion method, those screens don't last forever either.

I have done several small-run T-shirts and I wonder if you have tried any registered (multi-color) designs? I've only done one-color so far, looking to branch out.
rrwood3 years ago
I've done something similar to this using shelf paper from a dollar store, and it works great.

I just used an x-acto knife to cut out my image. It's not too bad for a simple graphic, but for something complex, a vinyl cutter would be MUCH easier....
spinn3 years ago
I've never done screen printing before so I was hoping that there was a little more info on what the process is and how this particular method is applied. This looks like a fun and easy way to do t-shirt screen printings.
icecreamterror (author)  spinn3 years ago
Sorry about that, but there are some brilliant videos out there on youtube showing the basics of the process one you have a screen made with photo emulation or this vinyl method.

feel free to ask any questions here :)
No worries. I figured there's probably other sites out there that describe the basic process. Just hard to follow the last bit without having some knowledge beforehand on the actual process and how it works.
painterkat3 years ago
I can't wait to try this...I've never done any screen printing before but I work for a sign shop so I definitely have access to a vinyl cutter.