In an era when ordering custom made t shirtsonline is as easy as pushing a few buttons, many of us are completely oblivious
to the work that’s going on behind the scenes as our custom t shirts are
printed. Certainly, there are dozens of methods used for shirt printing, but
there is one method in particular that has survived across centuries as a
favorite. Custom screen printing is considered by many to be the best option
for custom printed tank tops, t shirts, hoodies, jerseys, and more, and it’s
been around far longer than you might think.
China’s Song Dynasty saw the very beginnings
of serigraphy, better known as screen printing, circa 960-1279. The methods of
Chinese screen printers were adopted and adjusted by Japanese practitioners
until the introduction of the art form to Europe in the 1700s. Even then, it
took another 200 years for new developments to occur.
In 1907, Englishman Samuel Simon patented the
technique for use on custom wallpaper for the very wealthy, and in only a few
more years, screen printing techniques underwent further adjustments. Printers
experimenting with photo-reactive chemicals decided to utilize the well-known
actinic light-activated hardening traits of potassium, sodium or ammonium
bichromate chemicals with glues and gelatin compounds, revolutionizing screen
printing. Three printers by the names of Roy Beck, Charles Peter and Edward
Owens studied and experimented with chromic acid salt-sensitized emulsions for
photo-reactive stencils, changing the commercial screen printing industry
forever with the introduction of photo-imaged stencils, though acceptance of
this method would take many more years.
The next several decades were marked by fierce
competition between screen printers as they worked hard to protect “trade
secrets,” but the 1960s brought new fame and interest to screen printing
that permanently loosened the lid on the previously elusive process. Andy
Warhol’s very famous screen printed depiction of Marilyn Monroe opened the
public eye to serigraphy, and major developments in the process soon followed.
Michael Vasilantone developed and patented a
rotary multicolor garment screen printing machine in 1960 to print logos and
team information on bowling garments, but quickly embraced the new fad of
printing on t-shirts. The Vasilantone patent was soon licensed by multiple
manufacturers, propelling screen printing to its current status as the
preferred method for custom apparel printing. In fact, screen printing on
garments currently accounts for more than half of the screen printing activity
in the United States.
Ordering custom made t shirts online might
seem like a simple activity now, but the advent of such high quality printing
was a long time coming. Each time a person orders custom made t shirts online,
echos of serigraphers in ancient China, 18th century England, and 20th century
America are part of the process which took so many centuries to perfect.
History has been laying the foundation for ages, and there’s a lot more history
in that custom t shirt than you thought!