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Screen printing how-to

with Amber Guo and Phoebe Cai. Method by Jonathan Bobrown

We created over 30 personalized data shirts for participants in an asthma study. You can also find a supply list and more tips and tricks.

Vinyl cutting:

  1. Begin with an image file (.png, .jpg...) and open it with Corel Draw.
  2. Trace the image bitmap with the trace bitmap tool (select outline or centerline depending on the scanned or computer generated image).
  3. Hairline trace the bitmap.
  4. Set the fill to "none."
  5. Cut a piece of vinyl and load it into the vinyl cutter (specify piece instead of roll).
  6. Print preview and center the image.
  7. Print your design.

Transferring the stencil:

  1. With tweezers, remove the solid areas of the image from the vinyl sticker (this creates a negative).
  2. With a plastic card, adhere a large piece of transfer tape across the sticker (making sure individual components of the negative are well adhered to the tape).
  3. Remove the sticker backing.
  4. With a plastic card, carefully adhere the sticker and tape to the screen,
  5. Carefully shear the transfer tape off the sticker and the screen.
  6. Using screen printing tape, cover the screen so that no free screen space is exposed.


  1. Secure the screen onto the apparatus,
  2. Insert a cardboard cutout into the shirt such that the shirt fabric is taut (though not stretched). Make sure cardboard cutout is even, without creases or seams.
  3. Place the shirt beneath the screen, aligned with the sticker (careful to not impede movement of the hinges).
  4. Secure the shirt in place with tape.
  5. Apply a generous amount of paint onto the screen.
  6. With deliberate motions, drag the squeegee across the screen to push the paint through the screen. If the sticker includes intricate elements (letters or thin lines), use a limited number of swipes (approximately 3, with limited force).
  7. Once satisfied with the distribution, immediately lift the screen at the hinges and remove the shirt underneath.
  8. Iron garment to fix design after ink has dried. Follow ink specifications.


  1. Remove the vinyl from the screen (small parts can be easily removed with screen tape).
  2. Wipe off excess paint with a paper towel and rinse the screen.
  3. With gloves, apply cleaning solution on one side of the screen.
  4. Use a stiff brush and scrub the screen.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the remaining side.
  6. Rinse the screen.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 as needed.
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 6 as needed.