an alphabetical list of terms or words found in or relating to a specific subject, text, or dialect, with explanations; a brief dictionary. In this case, specifically related to the screen printing industry





Adobe Illustrator file. A popular vector type file used in the graphics industry.


Products used to make small scratches on monofilament threads to help with emulsion adhesion.

Absolute humidity:

The actual weight of water vapor contained in a unit weight of air, expressed in grams per cubic meter.


An index of the light absorbed by a medium compared to the light transmitted through it; numerically, it is the logarithm of the ratio of incident spectral irradiance to the transmitted spectral irradiance, a unit-less number.

Actinic Light:

Light range in and near the ultraviolet spectrum where most photochemical reactions occur.


Flammable chemical solvent that can be used to remove waterproofing from nylon jackets. Acetone is the principle ingredient in nail polish remover.

Adobe Illustrator:
The original vector drawing and editing program for print and art layout.

Adobe Photoshop:
A digital pixel-based image editing program for print applications.

All Heads Down (press):
A manual press with the mechanical ability to print in registration in any and all positions simultaneously.

Amberlith or Rubylith:

Rubylith® and Amberlith® brand masking films are light safe knife cut films coated onto a clear polyester backing sheet. These films can be cut manually or on a plotter to produce masks for film contacting and plate making and film positives.

Angle (line or dot):
the direction printed dots point in relation to center or 0 on the 360 degree circular scale.


 The property of any ink that will dry without the use of heat by evaporation.


 Common term for an image or text that will be used for printing.

Automatic Press:

A screen printing press in which the printing and the operation of the machine is accomplished through the use of electric servos and hydraulics. An automatic screen printing press has a much higher production rate than a manual press and will typically produce a higher quality print result.

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Back Clamps:

Also know as rear clamps. A clamping system on a screen printing press in which the screen is held in place by clamps located in the back of the print head.

Bezier curve:
A curve defined by mathematical formulae (also see: vector).

A data file that corresponds bit for bit with an image displayed on a screen (often confused with pixel and raster).

Black light:

Common name for any lamp that emits ultraviolet light. Black light appears as violet to the human eye.

Black and White Artwork:

Also known as line art. Any art that consists of a black image on a white background.

Belt Oven:

The piece of equipment used to cure the shirts. It contains several infrared heat panels that heat the ink to about 330 degrees Fahrenheit.


A problem that occurs when dye migrates from the fabric into the imprinted ink on a garment. This problem occurs in 100% polyester or 50/50 blend garments only. Can be avoided by using bleed resistant inks and by taking certain precautions when printing, curing, and handling the garments.

  1. 1.      Visible migration of shirt colors into the printed ink layer;
  2. 2.      The wicking of ink from the edge of the design out into open areas on the substrate (also known as or used in relation to sublimation).


Simultaneous printing of more than one color of ink on the same screen creating a mixing or blending effect.

Block out:

  1. 1.      To apply a small patch to an open section of mesh on a stencil;
  2. 2.      Liquid air dry product used to fill holes in the stencil on a screen (also known as Screen filler)
  3. 3.      An emulsion like chemical that is used to cover pin holes and to block out any area of the screen that you do not want ink to pass through.

Blow out (ink removal):
To remove a cured plastisol spot or stain with a powered spot removal gun.

Blowing agents:
see: puff additives

BMP (.bmp):
"Bitmap" is a standard file format characterized by the width and height of the image in pixels.

Break down:
The act of removing and cleaning the screens used in a print job.

Where emulsion stencil spans the gaps from thread to thread on mesh.

Build up:

Also know as ink buildup. A condition that develops during the "wet-on-wet" printing process in which ink accumulates on the bottom of a screen.


To expose an emulsion coated screen to a light source to create a stencil.

Butt register:
The alignment of artwork in which the registration of one color "butts" up against another color without any gap in between. Also known as a butt cut.

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Camera-ready (art):
see: Print ready (art).

Capillary films:
Pre-sensitized emulsion on a film base; named for the adhesion action.

Camera-Ready Art:

Production ready art. Artwork that requires no alterations or modifications and is ready for output onto film or vellum.

Capillary Film:

A light sensitive film, used to create a stencil, that when applied to a screen with water adheres to the mesh by capillary action.


See rotary printer.


Ink additive used to aid in substrate bonding; mixed by weight; used for nylon and synthetics.


A CorelDraw file.

A relative measurement of the viscosity of a liquid in standard units.

Chain Dot:
Elliptical dots known for joining at the ends from dot to dot, an undesirable optical effect known as string of pearls.

Chemical cure test:
The use of celosolve acetate or .99 ethyl acetate to test for a plastisol cure on a garment.

Chiller Plate:

A metal plate that is applied to a flashed print to absorb the heat from the print.


Choking is a type of trap that reduces the size of the underlying color and covers it with one (or more) colors to trap the underlying color with an overlapping edge of the top color.

Clip Art:

Ready to use artwork, usually in vector format, and typically copyright free.


 A condition that occurs when ink dries in the mesh of the screen preventing further ink flow through the stencil.


A metal trough used to dispense emulsion for the purpose of coating screens.

Coating Stroke:

A heavily angled print stroke that is used to increase the opacity of a print.

Coating trough:
see: scoop coater

Cold Peel Transfer:

A plastisol transfer that is printed on a special paper backing designed to be removed from the garment only after the design is applied to the garment with a transfer heat press and allowed to cool to room temperatureColor Change Ink:

See photochromic ink.


The ability of a garment or print to hold its colors over repeated washings.

Color Separation:

The separating of each color in a design into a separate image. Each individual separated color will then be printed in a certain order to reproduce the original composite image.

Combination film/stencils:
Pre-sensitized film and liquid emulsion combination on one screen.

Composite Image:

 A combination of all the color separated films.

When referring to spot and streak type emulsion flaws, this arises from damage-causing chemicals or particles.

Contract Printing:

Printing done on a per print basis and where the garments are usually supplied by the customer.

Continuous tone:
These are the tonal ranges we are familiar with in photographs. The tones are rendered in a continuous shading in full color.


The difference between light and dark tones in an image.

Cool Down:

 Allowing a flashed print to cool down in temperature before any further printing is done.

Cool-down Station:

 Moving a flashed print to an unused station on a rotary printer so it can cool down.


Another term for artwork.


Laws governing the ownership and use of artwork.

The value of inputs used to produce products/services (variable/fixed).


The quality or amount of ink that is laid down onto a shirt when printed through the screen. Also referred to as the opacity.

Crest :

A design printed over the heart area of a tee shirt.

A small flake of reflective foil or plastic suspended in plastisol for printing as a specialty ink.


Tendency of a print to come off when rubbed or subjected to abrasion.


The process of using heat to completely fuse plastisol ink. Technically incorrect term for "drying" ink. The point where plastisol becomes a wash-durable product (320°).

Curved Screen:

Rounded screens used to print on the crown of ball caps.


One of the process print colors, a certain shade of blue.

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Measure of the dark (art) areas on a film.

Measure of the transparent (clear) areas on a film.

DCS 2.0:
An EPSF Adobe Photoshop file format used for printing from Adobe Illustrator's separator.

Washing screens with an industrial degreaser to prevent contamination.


using a caustic cleaning agent to remove ghosted images from a screen.

A condition caused by underexposure in which the emulsion lifts away from the mesh.

Diazo emulsion:

A two part photosensitive emulsion.

  1. 1.      One of the three types of emulsions (other two are SBQ-photopolymer and dual care);
  2. 2.      Emulsion that uses benzene diazonium for light reactivity.

Diffusion dither:
Tonal changes made with small same-size squares in random patterns; similar to stippling (also known as stochastic dots).

Direct (liquid) emulsion:
A photo-reactive liquid chemical applied to screens used to create a stencil.

Dot gain:
A condition where printed dots enlarge from the desired or original size.


A room devoid of light used for the purpose of drying screens coated with emulsion or capillary film.


The process of washing a screen with a cleaning solution to remove all traces of dirt and oils prior to coating with emulsion.

Digital Imaging:

A term used to describe the creation, display and printing of images through computers and related digital equipment.

Digital Transfer:

A term used to describe transfers that are processed and/or printed through a computer. Digital transfers are output via ink jet or color laser printers onto special transfer paper then applied to a garment with a heat transfer press.

Direct Emulsion:

Photo sensitive liquid emulsion which is applied directly to a screen with a scoop coater.

Discharge Ink:

an ink used to print lighter colors onto dark background fabrics, they work by removing the dye of the garment.

Dot Gain:

A condition that occurs in printing halftones where the dots increase in size as a result of ink buildup on the bottom of the screen.

DPI (Dots per inch):

A measure of printing resolution indicating the number of individual dots a printer can produce in a linear one inch space.

DTG (Direct to Garment):

Printing process utilizing a special ink jet based printer that uses special textile inks to print directly onto a garment.

"Dots Per Inch." Squares printed from a printer that makes lines, shapes, or dots.

Drop Shadow:

A graphic "shadow" effect that gives an image a three dimensional look.


A common term used to describe a belt driven, chambered device with one or more heating elements used for the purpose of curing a print. Also know as a textile dryer.


A common term, though technically incorrect, for curing a print. A print may appear to be dry to the touch but may not be cured.

Drying cabinet:
A sealed box-like storage device used to quickly remove moisture from screens.

Dry trap (flash printing):
To print over an underlay of gelled or dried ink, as compared to wet-trap or wet on wet printing.

Dual cure emulsions:

  1. 1.      One of the three types of emulsions (other two are SBQ-photopolymer and diazo);
  2. 2.      Emulsion that uses a hybrid of diazo and SBQ salts for light reactivity.

Durometer (Duro):

unit of measurement used to describe the "hardness" of rubber. In screen printing, durometer relates to the "hardness" of a squeegee blade.

The measure of the hardness or stiffness of a flexible squeegee blade.

Dye migration:
When sublimated dye gasses trapped under the ink layer diffuse into the ink layer. A problem that occurs when dye migrates from the fabric into the imprinted ink on a garment. This problem occurs with 100% polyester or 50/50 blend garments only and can be avoided by using bleed resistant inks and by taking certain precautions when printing, curing and handling the garments after curing.

Dyed mesh:
Mesh fabric colored or tinted to help reduce light transmission.

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Elliptical Dots:

Oval shaped halftone dots.

Photosensitive chemical in either liquid, roll or sheet form that is applied to a screen and used for the purpose of making a stencil.

A photo-reactive chemical or film that is attached to a mesh and developed for use as a stencil.

Emulsion remover:
Used in the process of reclaiming screens, a chemical that will dissolve emulsions (also known as stencil remover or stripper).

"Emulsion Over Mesh." Measured percentage of emulsion past the threads in relation to the total thickness of mesh and emulsion.


A solvent based ink used for printing on certain types of substrates when a durable, abrasion resistant print is required.

EPS (.eps):
"Encapsulated Postscript" is a graphics files designed to be incorporated into other digital documents.

Exposure calculator:
A simple and easy test for finding the correct exposure time using a divided light filter with progressive UV exposure-blocking steps.

Exposure latitude:
The range of exposure time in between underexposure and overexposure (with any given emulsion) that will produce a useable stencil.

Exposure unit:
A device that emits UV light used to expose a screen and make a photo stencil.


Exposing an emulsion coated screen to light to create a stencil. Also known as "burning" a screen.

Exposure Calculator:

A device used to determine the optimum exposure time for screen making.

Exposure Latitude:

 This is the range of exposure time that will produce a usable stencil during screen exposure.

Exposure Unit:

A device used for the purpose of making a stencil consisting of a light source and some means of holding a screen in place against a film positive.

Extender Base:

A colorless ink additive used to extend the coverage of ink.

A chemical added to plastisol used to smooth the texture; increase volume, reduce opacity, and will not reduce viscosity.

Extending frames:
Retensionable frames using square opposing bars that move out from the center to tighten mesh.

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Face-side (screen):
The side of a screen that touches the substrate (shirt).

Face coating:
A second (or more) coat of emulsion over a dry first coating, applied to the emulsion on the substrate side of the screen.

A condition where small garment fibers break out of the ink layer when washed, creating a fuzzy look.


Common term used for a film positive.

Film Positive:

Right reading media of the image used for exposing a screen. The most common types of media used for film positives are ink jet film and vellum paper.

Fish eye:
An undesirable condition that occurs when screens are not degreased and/or dried properly. Fish eyes appear as round spots on a screen once the emulsion has dried.

Flash Cure:

To partially cure a print by subjecting the print to a heat source for a short amount of time.

Flash Cure Unit:

An infrared heating element that is typically attached to a rotary turntable, positioned above the platen and used for the purpose of bringing a print to a partially cured state so a second print stroke can be applied to achieve desired opacity. A flash cure unit can also be used to completely cure a print.

Flood Stroke:

A heavily angled squeegee stroke used to fill the screen with ink.

Fluorescent Ink: Special inks that contain extremely bright "neon" pigment colors.


A specific type face.

Four-Color Process:

Also known as CMYK or Full Color Process. A printing technique utilizing four ink colors (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black) to print the entire color spectrum.

Full Cure:

A state in which the plastisol ink film has completely fused, typically when a temperature of 320 degrees has been reached.


The state in which plastisol ink has reached full cure.

Fixed costs:
Expenses whose total does not change in proportion to the activity of a business.

Flash additives:
Ink additives used to decrease flash time and smooth the gelled ink surface.

Applying heat to a substrate while on press to gel the top layer of ink.

To fill the open stencil areas and mesh with ink before a print.

FM printing:
see: frequency modulation

A complete typeface of one size and family.

Four Color Process:
Color printing reproduction of an image using the specialty translucent colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (also known as CMYK).

A modular dimensionally stable platform used to support mesh fabric.

The count of location lines for dot shapes per inch (LPI) for a halftone print.

Frequency modulation (FM printing):
This effect (also called stochastic) can be simulated using the bitmap conversion in Photoshop and choosing the diffusion dither option in each channel.

Frequency interference:
Moiré-like condition when the threads in mesh fabric cross small stencil openings.

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Placing multiple images on the same screen.

Gap Registration:

 The alignment of artwork in which a gap exists between one color and another.


 Bringing plastisol ink to a partial cure by raising it to a temperature of 175 -240 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gel inks:
Clear, frosted, or tinted plastisol inks that when applied thickly have a bulbous wet look.

Gel point:
The temperature where plastisol forms a skin on the top layer of ink.

Ghost print:
A light visible image in a screen caused by former art or ink from earlier use of the screen.

Ghost remover:
A chemical used to break down or remove ink stains from mesh fabric without damage to the mesh threads (also known as ink and/or stain remover).

Ghost Image:

A faint image that remains on the screen after the screen has been reclaimed. Ghosted images can usually be removed with a dehazing agent.


  1. 1.      A result of chemicals in cured plastisol off-gassing into a stacked cotton shirt causing a bleach-like action;
  2. 2.      A transfer of reactive dyes in cotton or cotton-blend garments.

GIF (.gif):
"Graphics Interchange Format" is a standard image format (an open, nonproprietary format defined in 1987 by CompuServe).

Gray Scale:

An continuous tone image devoid of color consisting only of white to black shadings.

"Graphical User Interface" that uses pictures to help create computer input and output.

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This is light scatter caused by light passing through the clear film base on its way to the emulsion. This can be minimized by making sure your film positive comes in contact with the emulsion on the same side that the image was applied to the clear film base.

A grayscale image reproduced by varying size of same-color dots or a gray tone made of even dots in a pattern.

Halftone dots:
Rows of shapes in a print to simulate grayscale tones — made of variable size shapes (square, round, elliptical).

Halftone Dot Types:

Shapes of halftone dots. An elliptical dot is the ideal dot shape for screen printing. Round, square and diamond shaped dots are also used.

Halftone Line Count:

Number of lines per inch (LPI) also known as line or screen frequency. The lower the LPI, the larger the halftone dots will be. Common halftone line counts for garment screen printing is a range from 35 LPI to 65 LPI.


How a print feels when touched. A print is commonly described as having a soft hand or a rough hand.

Haze removers:
One- or two-part chemicals used to remove faint ink stains or ghost images on mesh fabric.

HD (thread diameter):
Old designation for largest (thickest) thread in a mesh count range.

Heat Gun:

 A hand held pyrometer used to determine the temperature of a substrate. Also the term for a hand held heating device that can be used to cure a print.

Heat Transfer:

The printing of an image in reverse onto special paper then transferring that image with a heat transfer press to a garment or other substrate.

Heat Transfer Paper:

Special paper that will release the ink printed on it when pressure and heat is applied with a heat transfer press for a certain amount of time.

High Density:

Plastisol inks that hold the form and sharp edges of deep stencils after printing.

A special effect also known as lenticular printing. A method by which normally flat static images convey depth. This is done by using an extremely thick stencil and with inks made specially for this purpose.

High opacity (HO):
An ink mixture with high amounts of pigments to raise the opacity level.

Hot Split Transfer:

A plastisol ink transfer where the transfer paper is removed within a few seconds of application. The ink then "splits" leaving a portion of ink on the garment and a portion on the paper. Hot splits transfers are typically used on light colored garments and have a soft hand.

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Inside dimensions of a screen frame.

Image Area:

The area on a screen where the image appears.

Index Color Printing: Reducing the color palette of an image to a few colors that best represents the color representation of the image. The individual colors are then output separately and printed in a specific order.

Imbedded particle:
Contaminates that get trapped when drying emulsion on screens.

Indirect films:

This is a light sensitive, hand or mechanically cut light blocking material on a clear film base that is exposed, developed and/or cut, weeded before application to the mesh as a stencil.


Specific energy wavelengths which produce heat. IR radiation is typically used to develop the heat in a heating element of a flash cure unit or electrical textile dryer.


Common term used to describe the printable substance that is used to make a print. In the textile printing business, the most widely used ink is plastisol.

Ink Additives:

A chemical agent added to ink to alter or improve its printing properties.

Ink Jet Positive:

 A special type of clear ink jet media printed with an ink jet printer used to create a film positive.

The process of separations of butting opaque colors to create an illusion of secondary colors (see simulated process).

Indirect films:
Light-reactive, hand- or mechanically-cut light-masking material on a film base that is exposed/developed or cut/weeded before it is applied to a mesh as a stencil.

Ink degrader:
A chemical used before stencil breakdown to remove oily inks and cleaners, and to prevent staining.

Ink migration:
When substrate dyes change directly from the solid to the gaseous state (also known as bleeding or sublimation).

Printers that produce images by projecting electrically charged droplets of ink.

Ink volume:
The theoretical amount of ink that can be transferred by the stencil and mesh.

Ink Well:

The side of the screen where the ink is placed.

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Term referring to "stepped" or pixilated look that you see along curves in bitmap images.

JPEG (.jpg):
"Joint Photographic Experts Group" is a standard compressed image format (that can have a downside of low quality).

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A description of the main outline of a design.


This is what we call the style of sewing that is used to make shirts and other garment. There are different types of knit with varying degrees of smoothness and textures.

Knocked Out:

Omitted portions of artwork in a design that prevent other colors from over printing.

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Light integrator:
An electronic sensor (eye) that measures the volume of light energy and controls the exposure time.

Light Scattering:

Unwanted reflective light.

Light undercutting:
A process where light passes at an angle past a positive (also known as undercutting).

Line Art:

Black and White artwork consisting of no halftones or color.

A condition where chemicals cause the emulsion to harden to the point where it cannot be reclaimed.


 A special symbol or graphic used to identify a particular business or organization.


A magnifying glass used for the close examination of artwork, a print and/or screen mesh.

Low-bleed (LB):
An ink mixture with chemicals that help prevent color migration or bleeding.

"Lines Per Inch." Printed lines of dots or shapes that form "halftone dots" for exposure.

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One of the process print colors, a certain shade of purplish red.

Manual Press:

A screen printer that is operated by hand.

Market share:
The percentage of the total available market or market segment that is being serviced by a company.

Masking film:
A dual layer film of clear plastic and a UV-blocking cut and weed top layer used to make positives (ie. Rubylith).

An open weave fabric attached to a frame used to create an attachment point for a stencil.

Mesh Count:

The number of threads in one square inch of screen fabric, measured in both directions. The lower the number, the coarser the mesh and the larger the screen opening.

Mesh Counter Determiner:

A gauge used to determine the mesh count.

Mercury-Vapor Lamp:

A light source used for exposing screens. A good source of UV light.

Mesh marks:
A condition resulting from low mesh counts and low emulsion thickness that can cause the printed ink layer to have visible impressions of the pattern of the mesh in the top surface.

Metal-Halide Lamp:

A light source used for exposing screens. An excellent source of UV light.

Metallic Ink:

A plastisol ink base containing metallic particles.

Micro registration:
a mechanical adjustment on the print head of a screen printing press used for precise movement and alignment when lining up or adjusting a print job.

see: micro registration

Mill seconds:

Apparel from the garment manufacturer that contain small defects and are sold at a discount. Defects can include holes, mis-stitching and size problems.

Mineral Sprits:

A flammable, petroleum based solvent that can be used to clean plastisol ink from a screen.  Not recommended. Can have detrimental long term effects to mesh.


A print containing a defect of some kind.

Moiré (pronounced more-ray):
An unwanted herringbone-like pattern that appears in a print as the result of misalignment of overlapping lines, halftones, and screens.

A strand or thread made of a solid flexible material.

A blotchy uneven print caused by lack of ink volume or substrate irregularities.

"Material Safety Data Sheets." Government-required forms for each and every chemical in a print shop.  Informational sheets supplied by the manufacturer indicating the composition of substance and health and safety data of the product.


Artwork containing more than one color.

A squeegee blade that has a harder layer sandwiched next to or in between softer layers.

A strand or thread made up of twisted or woven smaller threads.

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Name Drop:

Adding a custom name to a generic design.


The newton is the unit of force derived in the SI system; it is equal to the amount of force required to accelerate a mass of one kilogram at a rate of one meter per second per second. Kilonewtons are often used for stating safety holding values of fasteners, anchors and more in the building industry.[2] The safe working loads in both tension and shear measurements can be stated in kN (kilonewtons).

The process of printing or applying contrasting numbers onto garments for sport use (such as jerseys).

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"Outside diameter" or "outside dimensions." Used to refer to the outer measurements of the screen frame.

The distance or condition of the screen raised above the substrate. A method of screen printing of having a slight gap between the screen and the substrate for improved printability.


An ink's ability to cover the underlying color of the substrate.

Open Area:

The area of a stencil that the ink passes through.

The condition in which the screen is touching the substrate.

On-press wash:
A chemical used to clean ink from a screen that is compatible with the emulsion so the stencil can be used again.

Orange peel:
A condition resulting from ink sticking or stringing from the substrate to the mesh causing a rough texture.

"Operating System" is the user interface for the control of a computer.


A line surrounding an inner "fill" of another color.


Subjecting the substrate to excessive heat. Overcuring will result in a print that will crack and fade prematurely. Overcuring plastisol transfers will result in transfers that will not adhere properly.


Exposing a screen for too long of a period of time causing a loss of image quality resulting in a screen that will be difficult or impossible wash out.


Printing one color on top of another color.

A condition where excess ink is forced past the mesh and stencil when flooding.

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The solid smooth surface used to hold a garment for printing (also known as platen).

Pallet (platen) adhesive:
A temporary pressure-sensitive glue used to keep textiles from moving while printing (also known as spray tack).

Pallet (platen) paper:
A large tape-like temporary covering for press platens.

Paper stencils:
Separate stencils made of paper or film aligned on shirts to print numbers.

Paper Thermometers:

Specially made paper strips that have temperature readings printed on them indicating the temperature of a garment as it is being run through the dryer or under a flash cure unit.

Particle hole:
A small hole in exposed stencil caused by contaminates during exposure; is similar to a pinhole but of an irregular shape.

Repairing screen mesh on the frame using flexible glue and scraps of mesh.

PDF (.pdf):
A file format for representing documents independent of application, hardware, operating system, or print device.

Phosphorescent Ink:

Glow in the dark ink.

Photochromic ink:

A special effects plastisol ink that appears relatively colorless when viewed in indoor light but will display a certain color (depending on the pigment) when exposed to bright sunlight.

Photopolymer emulsions:

  • One of the three types of emulsions (other two are diazo and dual care);
  • Contains a high solids content
  • Emulsion that uses styryl basolium quaternary (SBQ) salts for light reactivity (also see: SBQ).

Pick Up:

The ink that is deposited on the bottom of a screen when printed after a color that has already been printed and is still wet.

The act of lifting and moving a garment multiple times before printing.

PICT (.pct):
"Macintosh Picture" is a standard Macintosh image format.


The component of ink that provides the color.

Pigment concentrates:
Ink additives used to raise opacity, and for richer, more vivid colors.

A small unintended hole in the stencil where ink can cause a small dot on the substrate.

Picture element; the smallest component of a digital image (also see: raster or bitmap).


 In computer graphics, pixilation is an effect caused by displaying or printing a bitmap at such a large size that the individual pixels are visible to the eye.

Plain weave:
A fabric weave where thread crosses over or under each transverse thread.


 A chemical component in plastisol ink used to give it the property of flexibility.

A screen printing ink primarily for textile printing composed of the following components: PVC (polyvinyl chloride), color pigments, and plasticizers.Platen:
The solid smooth surface used to hold a garment for printing (also known as pallet).


Also known as a shirt board.

Platen Adhesive:

Adhesive in either spray or liquid form that is used to hold down garment on shirt board when printing.

Platen Mask:

A paper based tape that is applied to a shirt board (platen) for protection.


See clogging.

PMS Color(Pantone Color Matching System):

a method of matching colors developed by Pantone.


The standard unit for measuring font size with 72 points equaling one inch.

Point Light Source:

A single identifiable source of light. Used to describe a desirable light source for a screen making exposure unit.

Polyvinyl acetate:
PVAc-water-resistant polymers used in emulsions.

Polyvinyl alcohol:
PVOH-solvent-resistant polymers used in emulsions.

The act of flipping garments fast enough or pulling garments under tension so that parts of the garment can flip into the wet ink

Film, paper, or vellum with dark art areas used to make a photo stencil (also see: separations).

Post Hardening:

Subjecting a screen to a UV light source after the washout process and the screen has dried to completely harden the emulsion to create a durable stencil.

A powerful printer language implemented in 1982 by Adobe Systems.

Powdered Adhesive:

Finely ground adhesive powder applied to cold peel transfers after printing to aid in the adhesion of the print to the garment.

Pre Shrinking :

The process of flash curing the shirts on the pallets before printing in order to shrink the garment. This prevents registration problems due to garment shrinkage

Press Wash :

This is an ink solvent that is emulsion friendly and can be used on the press during printing for color changes. It will not damage the stencil.

Pricing objective:
What you want to accomplish with your pricing strategy (i.e. increase profit 10%).

Pricing strategy:
How you will accomplish your pricing objectives (i.e. reduce shirt cost by 5%).

Printable area:
The area where a screen can reasonably print an image without distortion.

Print Head:

The component of a screen printing press that the screen is attached.

Print Ready (art):
Art in a form ready to shoot on a screen (positive on film)

Print-Flash-Print (PFP):

Screen printing technique used to achieve an opaque print result by printing, flash curing the print and then applying another print stroke.


A sample print. Also know as a test print.

Process color:
A specially mixed set of translucent inks used to create multiple colors when printed on top of one another.  Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black (CMYK).

Revenue left after cost is deducted (Profit = Revenue - Cost).

Profit margin:
Measure of profitability (Profit margin = Profit/Revenue).

"Proud of the mesh":
An old English screen printing term to describe anything past the peak of the knuckles of the mesh; is measured in a percentage of the total thickness of both mesh and emulsion, and referred to as the emulsion-over-mesh ratio.


Photo Shop Document. An Adobe Photoshop file.

Puff Ink:

A special effect type of plastisol ink that "raises up" or expands dimensionally during the curing process.

Puff Additive:

Ink additive used to cause microscopic "bubbles" to form in the ink; can increase viscosity and opacity .


An non-contact measuring instrument used to determine the temperature of an object's surface. A pyrometer used in the screen printing industry is often referred to as a "heat gun."

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Quartz Lamp:

A light source that can be used for exposing screens. Relatively low in UV output.

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Scanning pattern of parallel lines forming an image on a screen (often confused with bitmap or pixel).

Rear Clamps:

Also know as back clamps. A clamping system on a screen printing press in which the screen is held in place by clamps located in the back of the print head.

The act of applying chemicals to dissolve and remove an emulsion stencil after printing.

A colorless ink additive used to lower the viscosity of the ink making it easier to print.

Reflective Ink:

A special effect plastisol ink containing tiny reflective elements.


The process of lining up the screen image to the original art and/or separations on a printing press and/or exposure unit.

Registration Mark:

"Crosshair" target marks used for aligning a screen image to the source art.

Resolution: In computer graphics, resolution refers to the quality of an image as measured in DPI (Dots per inch). In the screen making process, resolution refers to the ability to "wash out" or resolve fine detail of an image on a screen.


An chemical ink additive that slows down the drying or curing of an ink.

Retensionable Frames:

Special frames that allow the mesh to be applied over the screen without the use of adhesives or stretching equipment. The mesh is drawn tightly over the frame using either a roller or telescopic tightening system.

The amount of money earned from activities, mostly from sales of products/services to customers.


Artwork in which the light and dark areas are inverted.

Right-reading: Artwork that appears correct in appearance to the observer, not mirrored or otherwise altered.

Raster Image Processing. This is a term often referring to software designed to maximize the output onto your digitally produced film positive.

"Red Green Blue" is a term to describe the type of color pallet used in a photo-editing program.

Roller frames:
Retensionable frames that use opposing rollers to tighten the mesh.

Rolling (mesh):
A condition where excessive pressure on mesh fabric forms a wave in front of the squeegee.

A condition where the flexible squeegee blade folds over so much as to flatten an edge against the mesh.

Rotary Printer:

A screen printing press consisting of several print heads and/or platens that can be moved in a rotary fashion for multicolor printing.

Rub test:
The use of a clean white cloth (both wet and dry) to test the possibility of sublimation, migration, and/or bleeding.

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S (thread diameter):
Old designation for smallest (thinnest) thread in a mesh count range.


A light that should be used when working with photosensitive materials like emulsion or capillary films to prevent accidental exposure to ultraviolet light. A yellow "bug light" works well for this purpose.

A jagged appearance in the stencil image that looks like "stair-steps."

"Styryl Basolium Quaternary" salt; used in photopolymer emulsions; a family of chemicals that are light reactive.

Scoop coater:
A long trough-like device used to apply liquid emulsion to screen mesh (often referred to as a coating trough).

A condition where chemicals in a textile fabric discolor due to excessive heat.

The complete printing unit made of tightened mesh attached to a stable frame.

Screen Abrader:

A chemical agent used to roughen the surface of screen mesh to aid in the adhesive of capillary film.

Screen Clamps:

Mechanical hold down devices used to hold the screen in place for printing.

Screen Clogging:

See clogging.

Screen Fabric:

Woven material make of polyester, silk ,or stainless steel with uniform openings that will be attached to a screen frame.

Screen Frame:

The frame to which screen fabric is attached.

Screen Opener:

A chemical that is used to remove clogged ink from a stencil.

Screen Printing:

Printing method where ink is driven through a stencil with a squeegee.

Screen Stretcher:

A device used to stretch mesh over a screen frame.

Screen printing:
The act of printing with a screen, stencil, and squeegee onto a substrate.

A result of underexposure that causes a slimy back layer of emulsion to move into open stencil areas.


A chemical added to liquid emulsion to make it harden when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Separations (Seps):
The positive images used to block UV light in an exposure to create a photo stencil.

Distinguishes artistic from commercial screen printing (Latin "seri" [silk]; Greek "graphein" [to write]). Technical term for screen printing.

Shelf Life:

The length of time a product can be stored before it loses its ability to work properly.


Also known as platen.

see: exposure

Side Clamps:

Also known as side clamps. A clamping system on a screen printing press in which the screen is held in place by clamps located on the side of the print head.

Simulated process:

  1. 1.      A process where multiple opaque colors are used to create a realistic image on dark substrates;
  2. 2.      Using specific spot colors to approximate multiple visual colors — a process that simulates continuous tone images and from a reasonable viewing distance can seem photorealistic.


Chemical agent used to increase the weight, crispness and luster of a garment. When heat from a dryer or flash cure unit heats up a garment, sizing agents begin to burn off creating a characteristic odor and smoke.

Color moved out of position by screen movement or by an excess volume of ink.

The action of the mesh where it lifts off the substrate after the squeegee passes.

Sodium Metaperiodate:

The key ingredient, along with water that is used in most screen reclaiming solutions.


See hand.


A liquid that dissolves a solid.

Solvent Based Inks:

Non-plastisol inks, such as acrylic, UV and epoxy based inks, typically used for the printing of hard goods and other non textile products.

Soft-hand extenders:
Ink additive used to raise print ink volume in higher mesh counts; will lower opacity.

Spot color:
A term used to describe separations or printing using specific colors.

Spray tack:
see: pallet adhesive

Special-effects Inks:

Special effect inks include metallic, shimmer, glitter, high density, glow in the dark, puff, reflective, photochromic (color change), suede, gel, black light and others.

Spray Adhesive:

A type of platen adhesive that is dispensed through an aerosol can.


In computer graphics, adding a slight outline to an image for the purpose of compensating for printing press misregistration.

Spot Color:

An image that contains discrete color elements, non-photographic in nature.

The flexible blade and handle that transfers ink past the mesh and stencil onto the substrate.

Squeegee Angle:

The angle the squeegee is held during the printing process. The more of an angle the squeegee is held downward (assuming equal pressure in each stroke) the more ink that will be deposited on the substrate (and the darker or more opaque the print becomes.)

Squeegee Blade:

a flexible rubber urethane or plastic blade that is then attached to a handle.

Squeegee-side (screen):
The side of a screen where the ink is welled and the squeegee touches the screen.

Square Dots:

A term used to describe the type of dot used for "index" printing.

Stencil roughness measurement:

lower Rz numbers are smoother.


The portion of an exposed screen containing the image to be printed.

Stretch Test:

Stretching the print on a garment to see if it cracks. Used as a spot check test to see if the ink is cured.


 See proof.

Stencil removers:
see: emulsion remover

Step coating test:
A process where multiple thicknesses of emulsion are applied to one screen for testing.

Step test (wedge):
A simple and easy test for finding the correct exposure time by using a timed and sectioned progressive exposure using a light safe cover.

An artistic technique of using small, somewhat randomly placed same-size dots to simulate varying degrees of grey or shades of a color.

Stochastic dots:
Same size shapes in random patterns with variable density (also see: diffusion dither).

A trail in a dried unexposed screen caused by travel of contamination.

Stretch additives:
Ink additives that build stretching qualities; for lycra or neoprene.

Stretch test:
A test where the ink layer on textiles is stretched to check for a cure — the test can only indicate an under-cure.

Tracks in an image caused by plastisol dragged behind the squeegee blade.

see: emulsion remover

Stroke: The pulling of the squeegee across a screen to produce a print.

When substrate dyes change directly from the solid to the gaseous state (also see: ink migration or bleeding).  A heat transfer that is made by printing a special type of ink onto paper and applying it to 100% polyester, nylon, and specially coated hard good substrates including mugs, plates etc. Sublimation is also a term used to describe the unwanted condition of dyes in the fabric migrating from the garment into the cured plastisol ink causing bleeding or discoloration of the printed image.

The product to be printed.

Suede inks:
Plastisol inks that take on the texture of suede when cured.

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T (thread diameter):
Old designation for medium thread diameter in a mesh count range.

Table Printer:

A small screen printing press that can be placed on a stand or on a table.


The adhesive strength of platen mask "application tape" and/or ink.

Temperature Tapes:

Specially made paper strips that have temperature readings printed on them indicating garment temperature as it is being run through the dryer or under the flash cure unit.


The "tightness" of the screen mesh, measured in newtons.

Tension Meter:

Device used to measure screen tension.

Ink additive used to build ink viscosity, raise opacity level, and increase tackiness.


Term used to describe the property of ink denoting that as ink is stirred, the lower its viscosity becomes. In simple terms, the more you stir ink, the smoother it becomes.


Changing the color of an ink by adding white (or another color) to it.

Tonal Range:

The difference between the lightest and darkest color in an image.

Toner Darkening:

Chemical spray used to make a vellum positive more opaque.


Degree to which something is able to produce illness or damage to an organ.


General term used to describe any type of indirect printing.

Transfer Adhesive:

A powdered adhesive that will improve the adhesion of a transfer to a substrate.

Transfer Inks:

Special plastisol inks that are used for printing cold peel and hot split transfers.


The property of allowing light to pass through diffusely.


The property of allowing light to pass through completely.


An outline placed around a fill color to compensate for misregistration.

Thread growth:
A condition caused by overexposure that makes emulsion travel into open areas around the threads of the mesh; such exposed emulsion forms sleeves over the threads.

TIFF (.tif):
"Tagged Image File Format" is a standard image format.

Tonal (tonal-range) compression:
A condition where highlights and dark tones lose visual clarity, because of dot gain and lack of contrast from dot to dot.

A powdery ink made of magnetic attractants used in a laser printer to develop a xerographic-fused image to paper.

"Threads Per Inch." The count of thread in one inch of mesh fabric.

Transfer (printed):
A printed product that is heated under pressure to move an image onto the substrate.

Transfer paper:
A special paper used to print heat transfers (printed in reverse).

Trap registration:
Separations where the edges of the colors overlap one another.

Twill weave:
A fabric weave where threads will cross two or more transverse threads.

A particular style and design of alphanumeric characters and symbols. (example: Times Roman, see related: Font)

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Under base:
see: underlay

Ultraviolet Light:

Light with a wave length shorter than that of visible light. It is so named because the spectrum consists of electromagnetic waves with frequencies higher than those that humans identify as the color violet. Ultraviolet light is commonly called black light. UV light is the ideal type of light for exposing screen and curing certain types of ink.


 Term used to describe any print in which the ink did not cure completely. An undercured print will most likely not pass a wash test and wash off when the garment is laundered.

UV Inks: Certain types of inks that when exposed to UV light will harden or cure.

A process where light passes at an angle past a positive (sometimes referred to as light undercutting).

When photo emulsion is not exposed to UV light long enough to be hardened; presents several adverse effects throughout the screen printing process.

A thin coating of ink printed first and cured to act as a base for which all other colors are to be printed on. Underbasing is usually required when printing multi-color designs on colored shirts.

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Vacuum Blanket:

The rubber sheeting used in conjunction with a vacuum pump system on an exposure unit to draw the screen down tightly against the glass and film positive.

Vacuum Platen:

A specially made platen that has many small holes drilled into its surface in which a vacuum hose is attached to its base. A vacuum platen is typically used for printing transfers and other light weight paper goods where adhesion by vacuum is more practical than chemical adhesion.

Vacuum Table:

 A special table often made of steel in which the surface has many tiny holes. When used in conjunction with a vacuum pump system, lightweight substrates such as paper or transfers are held down by the vacuum without the need of any chemical adhesions or spray.

Variable costs (direct costs):
Expenses that change in direct proportion to the activity of a business.

Viscosity: Commonly perceived as the "thickness" or "thinness" of an ink.

Vector (art):
The representation of separate shapes and text with mathematically set outlines.

A semi-transparent paper product used in laser printers to produce positives (produces an inferior product).

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  1. 1.      The direction from end to end (length) as a mesh fabric exits the weaving machine;
  2. 2.      The direction of feed into a machine.


Applying water to the emulsion coated screen after exposure to light for the purpose of developing the image on the screen.

Wash Test:

Laundering a printed garment in a washing machine to determine if the print is fully cured. Plastisol ink will wash off of an undercured garment during the wash test..

The act of removing unwanted top layer material from vinyl or masking film.

Weft (Woof):

  1. 1.      The direction from side to side (width) as a mesh fabric exits the weaving machine;
  2. 2.      The width of the bolt.

Wet-on-Wet Printing:

Printing consecutive ink colors without flash curing.

Wetting Agent:

A chemical applied to the screen to make it "wetter" than would be possible with water alone. A wetting agent is used as an aid in the adhesion of the capillary film to a screen.

Wet trap (Wet on wet print):
To print ink on top of a previously printed ink while the first underlay or under-base ink is wet.


A process when ink is drawn into the threads of a printed fabric or paper and enlarges from its original size.

Work Order:

Document used to show all of the necessary information required for the efficient production of an order.

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