History of t-shirt printing...

Who had the  thought of  printing  onto a t-shirt? Well it all began in 1700,  where it was introduced to Western Europe from Asia as 'Screen Printing'. It became largely recognised when silk mesh was available and this is why the term 'Silk Screen Printing' is used these days.

Samuel Simon was responsible for the patency of 'Screen Printing' in 1907. Clothing wasn't the first product the process was used to print onto it was actually invented to produce expensive wallpaper for the wealthy and was printed on many types of fabric, silk and linen were the most popular types. The newly mastered techniques weren't produced by many they were kept under strict secrecy and the workshops were very hard to come across.

By 1910 the printers started to experiment with different types of chemicals, as photography had become a well established technique they started to adapt these techniques to produce their silk screens. It was three gentlemen called Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward Owens who actually invented the first photo-Imaged stencil, this was a combination of chromic acid salts which produced the emulsion and this was the beginning for large format silk screen printing.

Combining Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward Owens discovery with Joseph Ulanos lacquer soluble stencil, they had a solid base to make screens which could then be made into stencils. The solution applied to the screens would dry this could then be cut into shapes leaving the 'silk screen' which the ink was passed through producing your printed clothing or wallpaper.

Now they had invented the technique the question was what other types of materials could the technique be used on? Artists where the ones who used screen printing the most and where it became main stream, they produced posters, Books, Newspapers and Clothing.

1960's  was when it became a famous technique, Andy Warhol started using traditional techniques and adapting them to produce his pieces of art with one of his most famous one being the portrait of 'Marilyn Monroe'.

These techniques were produced on a single screen and it wasn't until 1967 when inventor 'Michael Vasilantone' came up with the multiple printing carousel. From this date screen printing had revolutionised and you could now print multi coloured design onto textiles.

Here after 'silk screen printing' was looked at differently and you could now print onto most types of textiles or clothing with the most fashionable one being t shirts. T Shirt Printing is used within the fashion Industry, Promotional Industry and is a well known technique all over the world. There is always new techniques being invented, the old ways of CMYK or 4 colour process has become dated as full colour simulated process or 12 colours has become the default technique used by most professional screen printers.

Screenworks Ltd is where I'm employed; we are the UK's most professional screen printing and embroidery company. If it's promotional clothing you're looking for, we offer many of the leading brands including Fruit of the Loom, Gildan, Steadman, and many more. The majority of our work is t-shirt screen printing, but we also offer in house embroidery mainly for corporate branding onto products such as polo shirts, baseball caps & fleeces.