Successful screen registration

Successful screen registration

Have you ever struggled with registering your multicolour print job? In this article, Kieth Stevens will enter into details and will offer you some useful tips.




When creating art and colour separations for a multicolour print job, it is standard practice to include registration targets (or marks) to align all the films or layers and then the screens.


Here are some tips on what to consider when working with multiple screens for a design:

The finer the detail of the registration mark (thinner lines instead of just a fat square), the more accurate you can expect the registration of the screens to become (Figure 1). This is especially important if the design is detailed and will therefore require more precise alignment. For the best results I suggest placing the targets as far apart as possible and having at least three marks per film.

When using a light-coloured fabric, use a black or other dark-coloured screen to register the design. Conversely, when using dark fabrics, use a white or light-coloured screen. In our example here, we have used a white fabric and have made a test print with blue ink (Figure 2). This resulted in printed registration of the blue on white (figure 3). Make sure the design is centered in such a way that it will be centered on the final garment if that is what is wanted. If it needs to be printed on a particular spot, such as on the left chest, make sure it is correctly placed there.

Test printing the screen to a fabric or pellon. Flash the ink so that it will not smudge. Be careful not to get an overflash to avoid the image from becoming distorted. This will make it impossible to assure a proper registration.

Now register the other colours, which in our case is the lighter colour, to that test print (Figure 4).  When registering screens for a multicolour job, always consider the direction in which the squeegee will be pulled. To be successful in hitting the perfect registration the first time, register the screen slightly towards where the squeegee is coming from. This may be top to hem or hem to top, depending on the way the squeegee is usually pulled by the operator.

In our example, the squeegee is pulled from top to hem. The screen is registered a hair’s breadth above the registration mark on the test print, with the slightest bit of blue peeking out at the bottom of the squares (Figure 5). This will ensure that when the squeegee is pulled or pushed, the movement of the mesh will align the design to the correct position (Figure 6).   

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6

Important to note is that when registering from where the squeegee is coming from,  less adjustment will be needed when the mesh is stretched tighter. It is only when using older screens that are not at the proper tension that you may need to adjust the registration further towards where the squeegee is coming from.

Always try and keep your pallet as level as you can and keep the screens level and perpendicular to the pallet. Many presses have adjustments to each print head that allow you to adjust the screen levelness to the pallet. Off-contact can be added by raising the screen up above the pallet/shirt, thus creating the proper peel as the squeegee passes and deposits the ink.

When making any adjustments to a press for either the registration or screen levelness, be sure to fully loosen all the nuts or clamps while making the adjustments. Only after making the adjustments, fully tighten the nuts and clamps to assure that nothing is moving. When adjusting the screen on a press or swinging the pallets into position for registration, try not to push or pull on the pallet or screen itself. At least, be extremely careful not to use too much force to avoid jarring the pallet or bumping the screens out of registration in the process.

If the imaged screens are going to be saved for future use and are not being reclaimed, remove any tape that was used to block out the registration marks before the screens are put away for storage. The adhesive on the tape can deteriorate over time, making it much more difficult to remove when done later.

A beginner may need several attempts to get registration right. Still, once the basic steps have been mastered, it should not be a problem.

Following some or all of these tips and suggestions will prevent unnecessary mistakes and save you potential issues on press. Furthermore, the job will be up and running while less downtime will be needed. At the end of the day, this will mean more cash in your pocket.

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Stitch & Print International appears four times a year. In addition free digital EMagazines and newsletters are published. The trade journal is written for professional embroiderers, textile printers (screen printers and digital printers) and garment decorators.

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Stitch & Print International appears four times a year in print. In addition free digital EMagazines and newsletters are published.

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A quilted fabric, accentuated with effect thread by Samantha Schuck, Modefachschule Sigmaringen.