Earlier this year, Epson announced that they had worked with the screen-printing software experts at Freehand Graphics to develop Epson Screen Print Editions of two of their newest desktop and wide-format inkjet systems.
The 17-inch SureColor® P800 Screen Print Edition and the 24-inch SureColor T3270 Screen Print Edition were developed specifically for producing high-quality screen film positives for the screen printing process. The Epson Screen Print editions come bundled with AccuRIP Black Pearl SE™ software by Freehand Graphics and Epson Screen Positive Film.
For the Maker Generation
Epson recently announced that the two Screen Print Editions have begun shipping and can be purchased from screen-printing equipment resellers such as Garston, Graphic Solution Group, Lawson Screen & Digital Products, Nazdar Source One, and Ryonet.
This news should be welcomed by the many young artists, designers, and makers who are enthusiastically using entry-level screen printing equipment to make gig posters, T-shirts, and gifts items for sale on Etsy and at maker fairs.
When I wrote an article about the resurgence of “Old-School Screen Printing in the Digital Age” for the SGIA Journal, the owner of a co-op screen-printing studio told me that many young designers who grew up with computers and automated digital printing enjoy messing around with the inks and getting their hands dirty crafting prints that aren’t as slick and “perfect” as digital prints have become. With screen-printing, applying multiple layers of ink can result in prints that look and feel more like paintings.
But that doesn’t mean every step in the screen-printing process must be done manually. Younger artists who grew up using Adobe design software and professional inkjet printers for printing and proofing aren’t likely to revert to imagesetters and film-processing equipment. Some screen-printing start-ups I visited were using antiquated Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printers retrofitted with third-party ink systems and specialty software.
What’s a Film Positive for Screen Printing?
One key step in the screen-making prepress process is to make an opaque film positive for each color ink in the design. The film positive is placed on a screen coated with light-sensitive emulsions and exposed to UV light. The light activates the emulsions, which harden to become impermeable and form stencils on the screens. The stencils determine which parts of the print surface will receive ink as it is squeegeed through the screen mesh.
For optimal image quality, the density and placement of the black inks on the film positives must be properly controlled. This is particularly true when reproducing photos or complex designs.
The Epson Screen Print Editions
With Epson UltraChrome® HD Ink and UltraChrome XD pigment inks, the Epson SureColor P800SP and T3270SP produce high-quality solid and halftone films up to 65 lines-per-inch (lpi) with high UV opacity and an exceptional black density up to 4.0 Dmax.
The screen-printing studios who upgrade to these new “Screen Print Editions” can also use these film-positive printers to print full-color posters and graphics.
SureColor P800 Screen Print Edition
This 17-inch desktop borderless printer (MSRP: $1,795) is ideal for small screen-printing shops and maker studios that specialize in screen-printing small runs of T-shirts, tote bags, gig posters, and art prints.
The SureColor P800 uses Epson MicroPiezo AMC printhead technology with Precision ink drop control and eight colors of Epson UltraChrome HD ink. (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black, Matte Black and Photo Black). The density of pigments in the Photo Black ink is 1.5 greater than in Epson’s previous-generation inks.
The SureColor P800SP delivers resolutions of up to 2800 x 1440 dpi for outstanding clarity and sharpness.
SureColor T327o Screen Print Edition
The fast 24-inch T3270 Screen Print Edition ($3,495) can be used in screen-printing shops that use more automated equipment to produce longer runs of garments and posters. Its more robust print engine can output up to 40 16 x 20-inch films per hour.
The SureColor T3270 uses Epson’s latest PrecisionCore TFP production-grade inkjet printhead with five colors of specially formulated Epson UltraChrome XD pigment ink (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Matte Black, and Photo Black).
The UltraChrome XD inks were formulated for the fast production of high-precision technical drawings on the Epson SureColor T series of wide-format inkjet printers.
UltraChrome XD inks deliver brilliant color and crisp lines on virtually any paper type and are extremely resistant to smudges and water. The UltraChrome XD inks are sold in three cartridge sizes: 110 ml, 350 ml, or 700 ml. Companies that primarily use black inks to make film positives can use 700 ml cartridges of black ink and smaller cartridges for the color inks.
Specialized Software and Film
The AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software that comes with the Screen Print Editions was developed by Freehand Graphics, a New York-based screen printing business that has been delivering prepress products for more than three decades.
AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software works with all Adobe PostScript design software and has been optimized to provide superior solids and halftone control for textile applications. The easy-to-use interface offers simple ink density controls and one-click pop-down menus for top-quality results with Epson Screen Print Edition printers and Epson Screen Positive Film.
“The team at Freehand is excited to be an integral part of delivering these special screen-print editions to users who appreciate the value of a fast, professional turnkey solution,” said Charlie Facini, CEO of Freehand Graphics.
Epson Screen Positive film is a dimensionally stable, 5-mil clear PET film with a microporous coating optimized for Epson UltraChrome HD inks. Even with the high ink densities required for the solid, opaque blacks in film positives, the inkjet printed films dry instantly.
This means the ink on the film positive doesn’t transfer or stick to the emulsion on the screen. It’s also possible to expose the screen as soon as the positive comes off the printer. Available in cut sheets and rolls, Epson Screen Positive Film delivers a DMAX over 4.0 for precise text and sharp edges, on even the smallet type.
While Epson’s Screen-Print-Editions will appeal to screen-printing start-ups and studios, the printers will also be used in well-established screen-printing firms.
Brad Nichols, art director for Insta Graphic Systems, says the Epson SureColor T3270SP is “an ideal printer that combines production speed, exceptional quality, and extraordinary simplicity —all at a great value.” He said the company had been seeking a quality, cost-effective system that could replace an outdated imagesetter and produce high-resolution film separations for custom print orders.
“Epson is committed to bringing the most advanced solutions to market for proofing, graphic arts, photography, and screen printing professionals,” said Matt Kochalowski, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “The new SureColor P800 and T3270 Screen Print Editions combine our most sophisticated graphics printing technologies with the powerful, intuitive AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software to create amazing proofs and exceptional-quality screen positives at incredibly fast speeds.”