Why am I charged a screen charge on my t-shirt invoice? Great question, and we sure do get asked this a lot working in the branded apparel industry. Another great question that we often get, is “Why am I charged a screen charge if I provide artwork for you?” Let me help explain this age old question of screen charges.

In a recent blog, we explained the difference between screen printing and embroidery. Screen printing is one of the oldest forms of printing that there is. It is a method of creating an image on paper, fabric or some other object by pressing ink through a screen with areas blocked off by a stencil. That is the simple definition of screen printing. The process of making the screen for screen printing is why you are charged a “screen charge”.

The artwork that is provided either by the customer or the art department helps to create a screen for the screen printing process. Unlike embroidery, the number of colors in screen printing will increase or decrease the cost of the project. For example; let’s just say that you have three ink colors that are going to be imprinted on the front of a t-shirt, and two colors to an entirely different design on the back of the same t-shirt. In essence, there will be five screens that will need to be created for the job at hand. Depending upon the quantity may determine if you are charged a screen charge at all. With some screen printers, the cost of the screens is absorbed into the cost of printing because of the high quantity.

When you have a reorder, some screen printers charge less on the screen charge, simply because the screens were made once already. A few screen printers will keep the screens on hand and reuse if the client reorders on a consistent basis. Most of the time, however; the screens are not saved, but re-emulsioned and used for other screen print jobs. Unlike, what some clients think, the mesh on the screens do not last forever. Screens are broken down, re-meshed and re-stretched with special tools and tensioning equipment to provide a refurbished screen.

Now, one thing I must mention, screen charges are not just for the apparel process. You can also be charged a screen charge for other promotional products that use a screen type set-up in the screen printing process. Remember if you have questions, ask your sales rep ahead of time. It’s important to get an estimate so that you know exactly what you are going to be charged. I’m sure if you are like me, you don’t care for surprises when it comes to your invoices. Also, if you are getting quotes from different decorators, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, and that ALL of expenses involved are calculated into the cost of your apparel. Make sure you are working with a company that is transparent, and that will treat you right.

For your next project, check out our on-line catalogs and fill out our quote form for an estimate. At Dynamic Designs Unlimited, we strive to help you find the right product, within your budget. Let us know exactly what you are looking for, and we’ll walk you through the screen printing process, ensuring that you get your products on time. www.dynamicdesignspulaski.com

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