Common Screen Printing Terms You Need To Know

Screen printing is considered a semi- industry in most parts if the world. That being said, this field will have all the elements you’ll expect in ay industry out there, including some special terms used to refer to various processes, items, products, tools, etc that are utilized in the screen printing process.

If you’re new in this business, you would want to know the different terms used in the field to help you feel more acquainted with the field.

Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of the most common terms you’ll people who work in this industry utter over and over again, everyday.

Here’s the Glossary of Common Screen Printing Terms:


Wearing off or down by rubbing or scrapping; to scrap off; to cause the surface to be coarse.


These are brand masking films that are light safe knife-cut films that have been coated on a clear polyester backing sheet. You can cut these films manually or using a plotter to produce mask plate making, film contacting, and film positives.


Also referred to as screen art, this is the artwork that you’ve set up for the screen printing process. The artwork may or may not be ready to go to the screen. It’s important to note that you’ll need to setup your artwork correctly if you want to obtain great results in your screen printing.

Belt Oven

The tool used to cure a t-shirt. It comprises of several infrared heat panels that are tasked with heating the ink up to 330 degrees Fahrenheit.


This happens when the printed ink migrates outside your printing area and into the surrounding areas of your shirt. This can happen with two different colors printing closely as well.

Block Out

An emulsion like chemical that’s not usually light sensitive. It’s usually used to fill all the unwanted openings in the stencil on your screen after the exposure and washout processes.

Butt, Butt Registration

A scenario where the edges of two printed colors (that are different) come edge to edge but don’t overlap.

Capillary Films

Pre-sensitized emulsion on the film base that comes in rolls and sheets. This is used in the place of direct liquid photo emulsion.


A substance that modifies and raises the rate of a given reaction without being used up in the process. The substance is usually used in smaller quantities.


A sort of trap for reducing the size of first color printed slightly. It covers this color with another color with the aim of trapping the underlying color with the overlapping top edge color.

Color Composite

Full color rendition of your artwork exactly the way you intend it to appear on your tee.

Continuous Tones

Refers to the tonal ranges similar to those used in photographs. The tones are rendered in continuous shadings in full colors.


Describes the quality or amount of ink laid down onto a tee when screen printed. Alternatively referred to as opacity.


A design that has been printed over the heart region of a t-shirt.


A small flake of plastic or foil that’s suspended in plastisol, and is used to glitter inks for specialty printings.

Cured emulsion

An emulsion that has been exposed to the light. Curing refers to the chemical process through which an emulsion becomes insoluble to water.

Cured Ink

Ink put through the oven at around 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Curing is the process through which the ink is dried and bonded to the fabric of your tee.


Removing all traces of oil, grease, soil, and other foreign matter etc- usually by treating with a chemical.

Dot gain

A condition where the printed dots enlarge from the original or desired size. This is usually attributed to the accumulation of excess ink around the outside of your stencil perimeters. Dot gain causes areas of halftones to appear quite dark, reproducing your art incorrectly.

Drying Cabinet

The place where a freshly emulsion coated screen is dried. It can be self-contained and light safe with fans or vents that facilitate air circulation for faster drying of the emulsion.


One of the few measures of the hardness of a material.

Dual Durometer

A squeegee composed of two different durometer squeegees- sandwiched together.

Dye mesh

Mesh fabric tinted- usually amber or yellow- to help reduce the transmission of light as well as scatter.


A light sensitive liquid chemical applied to the screen.

Emulsion remover

The process that involves using a reclaimer or stencil remover needed to remove an emulsion when you want to reuse your screen for another task.

Exposure Latitude

The range of exposure duration that will create a usable stencil during the screen exposure process.


Chemical additives found in the plastisol ink, and play a crucial role to smooth the texture, reduce opacity, and increase volume, without interfering with the viscosity.


Occurs when you wash a printed tee and the underlying fibers come through the print. They look fuzzy and make your print look like it’s faded.

Flash Cure

The process of exposing your printed garment to heat source less than that associated with curing oven so as to make the ink dry to touch.


A rectangular metal or wooden body for holding the stretched mesh in firm position.

Ink Degrader

An ink solvent for breaking down the ink before the reclaiming process

Ink well

The side of a screen where you place your ink

Knocked Out

The omitted portions of your artwork that prevents overprinting of other colors.

Mesh or fabric

The polyester material stretched over a frame- act as the passage for ink.


This is the line surrounding the inner fill of another color.


Refers to the ink additives that helps lower the viscosity of an ink


An abbreviation for raster image processing. The term refers to the software specially designed to fully maximize the output onto a digitally produced film positive.


The item you are screen printing on. The side of the screen that contacts the substrate during the printing process is referred to as the substrate side.

Stirring stick

A wooden or plastic stick that you use to stir your emulsion.

Washout Booth

The tool you used to wash your screens in. It features a light panel in its rear such that you can see through your screens when working on them. A couple of steps in the screen printing are usually done here.

Alex John

This is Alex, I have been in tshirt business for the last eight years. This is my blog where I share my work and guidelines for fellows. Keep reading resources from here and I am open to any question.

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