What is the term registration when it comes to screen printing?

The term “registration” is confusing to many customers when they hear it in the context of screen printing. Registration, as it relates to screen printing, is very different from signing up for your classes at school. It similarly doesn’t have anything to do with filling out paperwork on your order. It is simply the process of making sure that the design lines up exactly as it should for the print. This is essential to making sure that everything is printed properly and that the design comes out as it should. The registration process can be done in two different phases of the screen printing process.

The first phase to create tighter registration for the print actually takes place before the order even goes to print. It happens during the design of the artwork and involves a technique called “Trapping.” Trapping the artwork will give each color a little stroke so that everything lines up together without any space.

The second phase is positioning the screens and securing them properly to make sure every t-shirt gets the same print in the same location. Sometimes this part of the process can take extra time because a sample needs to be run and adjustments have to be made. Once the screens are secured and screwed in tight, the print lines up beautifully for the rest of the run.

It is easy to tell when a design has poor registration because the finished print will appear “off” in some way. For instance things might overlap that should not overlap or there may be too much space between two things. Another possibility is that the design will simply appear crooked or distorted. These are all problems which can be easily avoided with proper registration.

The good news is that registration is not typically something that the customer needs to worry about at all. The only part of the process that could involve the customer is if the screen printer wanted the customer to do trapping in their artwork. This could happen, but in many cases it will not come up at all and here at You Design It we will review the artwork and make sure that it is ready to go before we begin production.

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