How to Correctly Do Screen Printing on Plastic Bags at Home?

Plastic bags have become a household item. They are just everywhere you turn from schools to homes to shops and malls. One thing about this type of bag is that they can be made based on your preference.

These days, most shops, malls, and boutiques use a custom bag for packaging. The bags are made in beautiful and unique shapes and forms with their logos printed on them. They can be a form of marketing strategy as people generally get interested in appealing and attractive things.

Printing on plastic bags is an easy task. It is something that you can do from the comfort of your home. Small businesses and companies usually have a limited budget, so this will serve as a cost-effective method.

In this write-up, we will talk about how to make prints on plastic bags and give you the step-by-step process involved in doing so. Cool, right? Read on to find out more.

Rules for Printing on Plastic Bags

There are different methods for printing on bags, and it is only appropriate when general principles are guiding the whole process. These are:

  • Decide on the way you want to use, the number of bags, colors, and the type of print required
  • Make sure that the size of the bag fits the printing surface for better results
  • Do not mix colors and dyes for a single print
  • Ensure you use one method all through, i.e., do not start using one way then switch to another while making a print
  • Select the colors you want to use early
  • When someone else is printing for you, send the design early to allow them ample time to prepare

Methods of Printing on Plastic Bags

They are numerous ways that you can print on plastic bags. Some will require rigorous and demanding steps, while others are simpler. We will give a brief overview of a few of them below:

Long Run Printing

This form of printing allows you to print a stretch of bags at a time. You do not have to do each bag at a time.

Flexography is the most common form of this type of printing. Using this method, you can print both images and write on bags. It makes use of flexible printing plates and steel cylinders to achieve a bright and vibrant print.

Short Run Printing

In this method, you can only print on one bag at a time. They are mostly used when fewer bags are to be printed on. Examples include:

Post Printing is a form of short-run printing that requires you to have an already made plastic bag. It can print using two colors and is only suitable for small quantities of bags.

Hot Stamping is another of such printing methods. It is similar to post-printing such that you can only print one bag at a time and it also requires readymade bags. The difference, however, is that this process makes use of stamp to print on the bags.

Screen Printing which is our main concern in this article is also a short run print. It is an effective way of printing on plastics bags, especially when working with a small number of bags. Although you can only print one bag at a time, screen printing is fast and can make a large number of bags in a short time.

It makes use of stenciled screens in the printing hence the name. One primary advantage of this process is that it is straightforward and can even be used on recycled bags to produce bright prints. It does require a certain level of mastery for the best results.

How to Screen Print on Plastic Bags?

Screen printing is a manual way of printing on flat surfaces that produce a perfect outcome. It is a cost-effective way of transferring ink to a bag using a mess to create a design.

To make this type of print, you will need the following items:

  • Plastic bag (stretched with no crease)
  • Stenciled screen
  • Squeegee
  • Framed screen
  • Plastic knife
  • Inks
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Cardboard paper
  • Photo emulsion liquid mixed with sanitizer
  • Latex gloves
  • Dark-room
  • Plastic canvas
  • 250 watts bulb

When you get all the materials needed, follow the following process to achieve the perfect screen prints:

  • The first thing you do is fix your frame on a screen. If you don’t have a frame, you will need to create one. Ensure you use durable materials like wood or aluminum for a sturdy design
  • Create the design you will want to print on the bag. This can be done using any of the many design software out there. The common ones are Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator
  • Transfer the design to a heat transfer vinyl. Designs with straight lines are easier to transfer
  • Scrutinize the design for any mistakes. When you are satisfied with your output, cut the design on the stencil
  • Soak the stencil with the sanitizer mixed emulsion. Now you are ready to start printing
  • Line your already stretched plastic bags on a surface. Place cardboards into them. This will stop the ink from soiling the other side of the bag
  • Place the stencil on the spot you want the print to appear using colored tape to ensure that they are stable
  • Pour the ink onto the stencil using a popsicle stick. Now, use the squeegee to spread the ink evenly on the bag while making gentle back and forth motion. By doing this, the design is transferred to the bag
  • Gently lift off the stencil to examine the print on the plastic bag. If the print is not well transferred, place the stencil back, and repeat the previous step
  • However, if the design was transferred correctly, remove the stencil and place it aside. Place on canvas and rinse out with water
  • Now proceed to place the bag on a surface with dry air. Alternatively, you can use a blow dryer to fasten the drying
  • When it is adequately dried, cross-check to be sure the design is transferred correctly
  • Now pick another bag and start all over

Note that,

  • For better results, make sure you print only one color. Also, ensure you use contrasting colors. For instance, when printing on black, use white and reverse
  • Always use black ink when using a transparent paper
  • When cutting the stencil, ensure you only cut out the white part

Standard Terms That You Should Know

If you are going to be making screen prints, they are a few terms you should be familiar with. Some of them are:

Printing Plates

These are used when customizing plastic bags, and their size depends on the bags you intend to use. When properly managed, you can make use of your plates for up to three years.

Registered Printing

When you want to have uniform bags, that is, bags whose printed design is on the same spot, that is what registered printing is about. It is not a complicated process. All you need to do is to use the same plate size on a similar bag. You can also mark the exact spots on all bags just so the design is on the precise place.

Random Printing

This is another common term in the printing industry. It refers to the type of printing where a design appears on a different part of the bag. The position is not necessarily the same and is determined by the kind of bag, i.e., if the bag is a slide or a bottom seal.

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Conclusion

In the end, knowledge is only useful when you put it to use. So you can only acknowledge whether you have learned or not when you try. If you are afraid it is not going to come out well, remember that practice makes perfect.

Irrespective of your reason for wanting to learn how to make screen prints at home is, make sure to follow this guide to get the perfect outcome. Bookmark this page for easy reference.

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