Color Matching: Variables that Effect Color in Screen Printing: The Printing Process

In the screen printing industry, color matching is the process where color swatches or samples are used to compare and match colors so that the product is precisely the right quality that the customer wants and needs. Here at ECI, we typically use the Pantone Color Matching System – a booklet of thousands of color chips that we use to standardize each customer’s products and equate them with their unique ink mixing formulas. Color matching takes training, discipline and an understanding of everything that makes color look the way it does. There are many different factors and variables that affect color in screen printing and must be taken into account when designing a new part.

This article is the second of a series concerning variables that effect color matching.

 Printing

The mesh used in the screen will have an effect on the color as lower mesh counts will lay down more ink and therefore the color will be darker and have more opacity. The higher the mesh count, the less ink it will lay down on the material and therefore the color will be lighter with less opacity.

This also works in combination with the mode of printing being used – manual or press. In manual printing, you have less control over the color being printed. Press printing allows the screen printer to more tightly control all of the variables that can affect color, such as speeds, pressures, and the distance from the screen to the substrate.

Squeegees

Squeegees play a large role in color matching as it has likely the most effect on printing colors. The sharpness of the squeegee will determine how much ink is applied – the less ink, the lighter the color. Meanwhile, the pressure being applied to the screen with the squeegee blade will also work alongside this as well – more pressure will allow less ink to be applied and thus a lighter color will be the result. The less pressure that is used, the more ink is applied. Another variable in selecting the right squeegee blade is the durometer of the squeegee, which dictates how hard or soft the squeegee blade is A lower durometer blade will be softer and yield a larger ink deposit, and a higher durometer will lay down less ink. Different combinations of sharpness, pressures and hardness can be used to create the same results. However, equipment, operational standards, and ink formulas are set to assure tightly controlled results for each print run.

 

Next article: How lighting and the way our eyes perceive color effect color matching