What is an under base when screen printing?

One difficult part of the process known as screen printing, is printing light colors on dark t-shirts. There are a few different ways of making the light print stand out and look great on darker colored t-shirts. One of the ways to do this is by adding an actual layer of clean printing surface underneath of the design. This is called an “under base” and it is from this that the term “under basing” is derived.

An under base is usually done with white ink. The reason for this is that the white provide a very neutral color for the other ink colors to be printed on top of. It is also the lightest color so it provides better results on darker shirts. The way the process works is that the screen printer will print a wide layer of ink underneath every color in the design. This provides a base canvas for the rest of the colors to then be printed on top of. That way it is almost like printing on white shirts instead of darker shirts.

You may be concerned that this layer of white will be visible in the final, finished product. However, when done properly the customer should not be able to see the under base at all and if they did not already know they wouldn’t even know it was there. If there is a problem with printing whereby the shirt or equipment moves during printing, resulting in being improperly lined up, then it is possible that some of the white under base will show. However, in most cases this is no more of a problem than it would have been anyway, since that same jarring is likely to result in a generally unsatisfactory, crooked print. Quality control should catch an error like this without it ever causing problems for the customer.

Under basing is a very useful tool in the industry and it can be invaluable for printing light ink colors on darker shirt colors. If you screen printer recommends doing under basing then it is usually a good idea to go ahead and do it. Some printers do charge more for this service since it adds to the time and labor involved in production. The good news though is that at You Design It our pricing is all inclusive so you would not have to worry about extra fees being added to your total.

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