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A Sign of Limitations

A lot of new people I meet or get introduced to will eventually ask me what I do for a living. When I explain that I work at a sign company, the topic of what kind of signs always comes up. 8 times out of 10, they get surprised when I throw ‘Silk Screen Printing’ in the mix. Saying things like, “Is that still effective?” or “People still do that?” Heck yea they do and believe it or not, there are a lot of pros and few cons to getting screen printed signage. You know that “WE BUY HOUSES” yard sign you always see every day, while in traffic on your way to work? That was most likely screen printed. I usually elaborate further and detail the fact that besides what type of equipment you have, you can screen print almost any design. From a 4-color process print to a simple one-color sign that’s all text, it can be screen printed. Of course, there are some downsides to screen printing too, but that’s why you’re here, to find out about the benefits and more so the limitations of these types of signs.

Screen Printed VS Digital Printed

To know the limitations of screen-printed signs, we would have to get familiar with the opposition as well. You might be thinking, “Screen-printed signs as opposed to what?” Digitally printed signs of course. In the more modern world of advertising, screen printing sort of became a thing of the past as newer and more technologically advanced printers became available. Specifically, inkjet and laser printing started to allow shop owners to offer full color designs in a much more efficient way than what was previously capable. Full color printing is still very possible to do in screen printing, however, it’s incredibly more tedious and the margin for error is extremely small with what’s called a 4 color Process print.

It is more commonly known as CMYK printing, where we take specific values of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black) and print each color one at a time as a series of what appears to be random dots that fall on top of each other to make a full color print. Confused? Just look at a comic book from the 70’s very closely. If you use a magnifying glass and look at any solid color, you’ll start to notice that what appears to be specific colors are just a bunch of tiny different colored dots that somehow form this uniform color that you are seeing. Neat, right? As cool as it may be, explaining that was tough, now imagine actually doing it. The takeaway here is that just because it’s possible, it does not make it the best solution. It would take all day to print an order of 100 signs this way. When you have a machine available that could do it in a fraction of the time, it’s a no-brainer.

More Borders, Less Problems?

Another constraint for screen printing is the fact that a ⅝ – ¾ inch of the entire border must be blank. Meaning the image or design you have will never go edge to edge on your yard sign. Heart breaking, isn’t it? Well, unfortunately that border is necessary for a few reasons. The main one is the actual print process. Once the image gets printed on whatever substrate are using, that blank space around the edge is meant to handle the sign from printing to drying so that the wet ink does not get smudged going from one step to another.

Something else to consider is that if the blank border wasn’t there, then the ink that is getting pushed through the screen would fall past the edge of the actual sign and get wet ink all over the printing press. To better visualize this, let’s compare the edge of the sign to the rim of a cup. Obviously, you wouldn’t pour anything into a cup past the rim, or else it will overflow past the edge. Similarly, we wouldn’t print past the needed border on a sign, or else the ink will flow over the edge as well which would make the same kind of mess as over pouring a cup. So no edge to edge print for screen printing.

These are the main limitations that both printers and customers must consider when making and purchasing yard signs. Something else to keep in mind is that screen printing now-a-days is for bigger or bulk quantities of signs on average. I wouldn’t say this is a full-blown limitation, however, as different companies will still print smaller quantities too. I hope we were able to give you some insight and we look forward to keep on providing you with more sign knowledge in the future.

What are these yard sign limitations you speak of?

  • In Screen Printing, 1 – 3 colors are ideal, No full color designs (that’s for digital printing).
  • The more the merrier… screen printing is better for bulk orders, not just a few signs.
  • Screen printed signs must have a blank 5/8 – ¾ inch border around the edge as necessary for the printing process, No edge-to-edge printing.

If you happen to be curious on where to acquire these kinds of signs, stop on by and check us out or reach out to customer service.

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