What Goes Into Our Printing Process

Amy Wopsle

Here at Oklahoma Shirt Company we work with hundreds of people a year to help them get printed apparel, and many of them we are helping place their first order ever.  Sometimes we find ourselves thinking “If this person only understood the process better it would make it so much easier for them!” So, we thought it could be helpful to share the process that goes into making your shirts once we’re past the quoting process.


Here are the 3 main steps in our printing process.


1. Art.  The first step to screen printing any garment is to have print ready art.  If you have art in vector format, then you send that over and we are ready to go.  No extra time or extra charges!  However, if you need help with your art we are happy to help there too.  If you have art that we have to remake or if we create something from your description we have an “Art Fee” of $30/hour (we rarely exceed that first hour.)  We will e-mail you designs that are mocked up on a t-shirt to give you an impression of what you will be receiving. 

This is the time for you to give feedback on what you’re seeing - we LOVE feedback, so let us know how we can make it perfect!  Once we have landed on a design for your shirt that you love, we move on to the pre-production steps.


2. Pre-Production.  A surprising amount of work has to be put in before we can print your t-shirts.  Firstly we have to print color separations.  That means each color that will end up on printed on your shirt has to have it’s own screen, and that starts with it’s own separation.


Each of these color separations is then burned onto a separate screen in our darkroom.  So if your shirts have three colors, we have to do this whole process three times - once for each screen.  These screens are then placed on our presses and registered to one another to be sure the colors line up for the final product.  Burning screens takes around one hour to do, and registering takes around an hour as well.  The time and materials that goes into these steps shows up on your invoice as “Screen Fees” which we charge $20/screen for.


3. Production. This is the important step in printing t-shirts.  This is the part where we actually print the shirts!  The shirts to be printed are staged in stacks to keep everything clean and organized, and our production team loads the shirts onto a carousel that takes it around to each of the screens to get printed.  Once it’s received all the printing it needs we take it off the carousel and it goes through a dryer to cure the ink.  It comes off the other end and is sorted and counted and checked for printing quality and art mistakes.


You can actually watch this part of the process on our website!  Under the “Custom” tab you can click on “LIVE On The Press” to see what we’re printing right at this moment!

Once production is finished you will be informed that your shirts are done you will receive an e-mail and your shirts will be ready to pick up at your convenience.  We love to help new customers navigate through the process it takes to get shirts printed, but hopefully this quick overview will help you if you feel like you don’t know where to start.  Each of these steps is an extremely broad overview, so if you would like to know more about some of these specifics, you may check out another one of our blog posts concerning the specifics of that area, or feel free to ask questions when you come pick up your shirts.  We love to show people around our house!

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