Screenprinting will always be around in some form or another. There are a number of old and new techniques that have shrunk the screenprinting slice of the pie.


Digital printing has eaten into the traditional screenprinting small run large format work. The turn around time for digital is far quicker and less expensive than that for screenprinting these small specialized runs.

Digital also allows the customer the versatility of changing point-of-sales promotions and other poster type advertising very quickly and at a higher frequency. Besides the very high cost of digital ink, the speed at which the various machines can print is the main limiting factor of digital printing.

Current trends in increasing the computing ability that control the print heads are currently underway. Once the computing ability has been sufficiently increased, the ink prices will drop (as they are already) and screenprinting industries will experience a further loss of business.

However, currently longer runs are still more economical using screens than digital.


Litho printing of longer runs has also eaten into the screenprinting business due to faster speeds and lower unit costs. Many of the large format advertising billboards are now litho printed instead of screenprinted.

Additional trends in the market place will be towards more environmentally friendly products. The areas that have been targeted include:


There has been a huge amount of effort applied in the study of the possible effects of certain phthalates on human health. Endocrine destabilization and other effects on the reproductory organs, especially in embryos and infants, have been highlighted as possible areas of concern.

Environmentalists have also come into the fray stating the impact on ground water and air pollution are also areas of concern.

The screenprinting industry has identified this area as a possible problem and has developed phthalate free plastisols. Phthalate free plastisols have been around for some time but have not been commercially available as yet due to the higher cost implications of the systems.

Future consumer demands will, however, dictate that all plastisol will be phthalate free at the very least.


Again, the environmental pressure on manufacturers to remove PVC from all products has gained tremendous momentum over the last few years. However, there is always a cost implication involved in printing a system that air-dries either water or solvent based. The later option of a solvent-based ink is also a no-no as far as the environment is concerned.

The requirement by the industry is for a system that behaves in every fashion like a traditional plastisol but contains no phthalates or PVC - only 80% of the ingredients need to be changed!

Phthalate and PVC free plastisols are on their way! UNIFLEX have a system that is under evaluation presently. The preliminary results look extremely encouraging… so watch the press for further details!

Obviously the new developmental product is going to be more costly, but what price do you place on the state of your health and on the future well being of our planet.