Film Positives for Screen Printing

Posted by Jeffrey Gononsky on

Screen printing is a challenging creative medium. There are various techniques and steps that go into creating a successful print. One of these steps includes creating a film positive. Obviously, this is a necessary process because without it, there would not be a design to print onto the clothing, signs, or other merchandise. You wouldn’t have much of a business left!

It takes a skilled individual to create a film positive for screen printing that can give you the desired, high-quality results you want. There are plenty of technical terms and explanations describing how to make a proper film positive, but these directions can be confusing without an existing foundation of screen printing knowledge. 

However, there are companies that can provide many screen printing services for you. Some film printing processes that produce high-quality results require expensive machines that small printing shops may not have personal access to. 

At Holden’s Screen Supply, we can tackle the hard parts for you. With a large selection of screen printing materials and select services, Holden’s has everything you need including our Film Positive Service. Film positives are a delicate and essential part of screen printing, but what are they exactly?

What Are Film Positives

In simple terms, film positives are the stencil of the design that is going to be printed onto a product. These films have to be completely opaque to achieve the best results. This is because the process involves exposure to a source light, and the films must be able to block out that light to create an accurate image. If they are not entirely opaque, your design can be distorted or even ruined. So, what steps should you follow when creating your film positives for screen printing? 

How to Create Films

When creating your film positives, it is important to follow the proper steps, so your design comes out right. These requirements include preparing a digital image of the design, separating the colors, adding guidelines, and using the right materials. 

Designing a high-quality film ensures that when you apply a photo emulsion, the correct design is produced from the film or stencil. Photo emulsion is a light-sensitive substance, which is why creating a totally opaque film positive is essential.

Digital Image 

The first step in creating film positives for screen printing is preparing the desired design on a computer program like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. While making your design, it is important to ensure it is in a high resolution and in the correct dimensions for the material you will be putting it on. Before printing, there are a few more additions that will ensure the success of your film.

Separate Colors

After creating your design, you will need to separate each color into its own layer. The computer program you use to create your design will have the tools you need to make these layers. Separating the colors into layers allows you to print multiple films and have separate screens for each color in your design. However, after creating these layers, you must change every color to black before you print. Remember, the goal is to have a totally opaque film.

Add Centering Lines

The next step ensures that when you place your film onto the garment or product you are using, it is aligned correctly and not slanted or off-center. To do this, you use the same computer program to add center crop marks and registration lines to each layer. These act as a guideline so each film layer is lined up correctly.

Proper Materials

The simple part of creating film positives is using the right materials: film and ink. There are many types of film positives, including:

  • Inkjet films
  • Laser films
  • Laser vellum
  • Thermal films
  • Imagesetter films

Inkjet films are highly recommended because they make creating a more opaque image easier. These films are better quality than others and produce better results. This type of film is easily accessible and works with most standard inkjet printers. 

Choosing an ink that will work with the film you choose is also crucial. There are two types of ink that are used for screen printing: pigment-based and dye-based. Dye-based ink is preferred because it produces a more opaque print and, therefore, a higher quality film positive. Dye-based ink is recommended when using an inkjet film.

Following these steps will allow you to create a design you and your customers will be satisfied with. Once you have printed your finished film positive, you are ready to start screen printing. 

Holden’s Film Positive Services

At Holden’s, we are a one-stop shop for all your screen printing supply needs. We can do it for you if you do not have the proper skills or equipment to produce your own film positives! We have a state-of-the-art imagesetter that can create halftone films up to 36” x 44” and line art for just about any sized film positive.

If you are interested in this service, check out our webpage for film-positive services here! Other than your request, all you need to include is any output requirements you have, like LPI, angle, dot characteristics, etc.  

Our state-of-the-art imagesetter is the best method for making film positives for screen printing. These machines are not cheap, so even if you have adequate screen printing skills, if you have a smaller shop, this might not be equipment you have access to. Take advantage of our services so you can have the highest quality films for your screen printing.

Whether you do screen printing as a hobby or business, creating a good film positive that adequately blocks light from curing the photo emulsion is crucial. It can be easy to breeze through this process, but that will result in an inaccurate design and can end up costing you. Save yourself the time, effort, and money by using Holden’s Screen Supply film positive services!