Should I stretch my own screens or outsource the process?


The T-shirt market in the U.S. is the anomaly for screen making. Most screens are made by the printers who use them, whereas outside of the U.S. screen-making services are more prevalent. Dedicated screen-making shops usually have the skill set required to provide a cost-effective product based on economies of scale in their ability to purchase products at more attractive pricing, while the volume of their processing allows them to better distribute their costs per screen. If your production schedule is extremely tight, you won’t be secure to outsource anything but a stretched screen. However, be forewarned, don’t just buy their “most popular mesh." These screens are commonly the ones with the thickest thread, of a higher count, and the cheapest overall product. Obtain a thread counter from your supplier, count the threads, and check the tension in both warp and weft direction with all inbound screens. Most screen suppliers are honest, but this QC stage will help them stay that way and could save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.