9 Common Screen Printing Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

Building a printing business is rewarding, but it can also be challenging. By avoiding the most common screen printing mistakes, you will set your print shop up for success.

The Screen Printing Industry is Growing – and So Is Competition

The market forecast for the screen printing industry shows significant growth. But to become part of this positive trend, it’s essential to keep improving your processes and delivery. 

Research site anythinsearch.com points out that the “the most influential companies in the Commercial Screen Printing industry and adjacent industries either have large market share or are developing new business models and methods that could disrupt the status quo.” In other words, to stay ahead of the game, it’s crucial to keep updating your way of working. 

This chart shows the market forecast for the screen printing industry in the US. Avoiding the most common mistakes will help you become part of the positive trend.

Below, we’ve listed 9 of the most common screen printing mistakes that are made both by newbies and more seasoned pros. Avoid them, and you will be able to build a more reliable business, provide better customer experience and run a more cost-efficient operation.

1. Always using the same screen mesh

Using the same mesh count for all jobs is a common screen printing mistake. Especially starting out, many new screen printing businesses believe all they need is a 110 mesh. But in reality, 110 is not the best choice for every type of job.

It’s true that a 110 will get you a long way, and it’s perfect for your everyday print job. But if you’re printing halftones or photorealistic motives, you will typically need a higher mesh. Having a variety of screen mesh available will help you get the optimal results, every time. By combining the right screens with the correct ink for every job, you’ll get better prints and waste less ink.

2. Working with dirty equipment

Don’t try to speed things up by skipping the cleaning of your equipment that is needed between every project. Old ink from other print jobs, pieces of lint from your last substrate, or smudges from your fingers; it doesn’t take much to destroy your final product. Keep your pallets clean, and make sure to wash your hands, to avoid getting dirt, old ink and grease on your substrates.

If you’d still get a stain on your final product, often it can be saved using a spot gun. Spot guns allow you to use concentrated cleaning solvent directly on stains, smudges or fingerprints, and many times they can remove them entirely. A good spot gun can prevent you from needlessly having to throw away products.

3. Not thinning your ink to get the right texture

Many plastisol inks are marketed as ready-to-use products, and sometimes that is true. But most inks are too thick to be used straight from the can. Instead, you need to add some reducer to thin the ink and get the right creamy and smooth texture.

If you use an ink that is too thick, you risk getting a blotchy or blurry result. Sometimes all it takes is a good stirring to get the right texture, and sometimes adding a little reducer will do the trick. Either way, taking the time to get it just right will lead to better results, less waste, and happier customers.

4. Not inspecting your equipment before every print run

This is another crucial step in the printing process that many will try to skip to save some time. But doing so can turn out to be a costly mistake. The thing is that during each printing, the bolts keeping every part of your equipment in place tend to loosen. They often shift a little, and if not adjusted, this can cause blurry, smeared printing results. This can be a reason why you get so-called ghost prints, which happens when the screens are not correctly positioned. Checking your machines before every new project is well worth the time and effort.

5. Not proofreading the material

Nothing is more annoying than finishing a batch of beautiful prints, only to discover that there’s a typo or some other mistake in the motif. Sure, the error might be your customers, but they will still love you for spotting it. And, reversely, as unfair as it may seem, they will often give you part of the blame if you don’t detect it. So instead of risking unhappy customers ending up with hundreds of t-shirts with typos on them, make a habit of running the artwork before at least two sets of eyes before actually printing it.

6. Failing to keep up with industry trends 

Your buyers will want the latest trends. So whether that means softer prints, abstract motifs, vintage prints with a distressed look or photographic prints, you need to be proactive and make sure you can deliver what’s in demand. Subscribing to industry blogs, reading trade media and attending trade shows are all great ways to stay in sync with the latest trends and tendencies.

7. Not doing a test print first

Test prints are also a step that many are tempted to skip in order to save some time. But doing so is risky, as you might end up with a whole project being ruined by issues that you could easily have spotted in advance. In other words: saving a little bit of time at the beginning of a job may cost you a lot of time and money in the end. Taking the time always to run a test print is most definitely worth it.

8. Using the underbase as highlight

If your underbase is white, you may consider using it as highlight instead of preparing an extra screen. But doing so comes with several problems. You will often have to put down too much ink, which can have a negative impact on the look and feel of the finished print. It can often lead to an uncomfortable garment where the print has a heavy feel to it. Instead, it’s worth the extra time and effort to use a separate highlight white.

9. Slow service and shipping makes customers leave

Did you know that 71% of buyers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service? Considering that it can cost up to 7x more to acquire new customers than retaining old ones, customer retention should be central to every print shop’s strategy.

Not being quick and responsive enough is a sure way to lose customers, and miss out on recurring revenue. But managing orders can be a struggle when information is spread across emails, task managers, spreadsheets, and chat conversations. You risk losing information and creating unnecessary wait for your customers.

That’s why we created YoPrint. YoPrint allows you to keep all your information in one place. With YoPrint, you get everything you need to get organized, grow sales, track inventory, and increase customer satisfaction – all in one, easy-to-use software.


There you have it, 9 common screen printing mistakes and how to avoid them. If you are looking for a solution to help you streamline operations and provide a better customer experience, try YoPrint for free for 15 days. We guarantee you will see an uptick in productivity.

CEO & Principal Engineer at

Having worked as a software engineer for Amazon and Microsoft, Anbin founded YoPrint to build the best-in-class print shop management software. Anbin aims to use cutting-edge technology staple to tech giants to help modernize the print industry.

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