What they do
Screen printers use stencils to transfer designs onto clothing, posters, cards and a range of other materials. Stencils are placed on tightly woven mesh screens and a roller or squeegee forces ink through the exposed section of the mesh to print the desired pattern onto the media. Screen printers are responsible for preparing the stencils, mixing inks,ensuring that stencils, inks and objects to be printed are all aligned correctly and operating the printing and drying machines. They must also ensure that printing machines and screens are thoroughly cleaned after each job to avoid contaminating the next printing job with residual inks.
Screen printers in Western Australia work in studios, workshops and factories that are generally located in the Perth metropolitan region. These environments are generally well lit and ventilated. Operating printing machines can be noisy and involves some risk of injury, requiring safety standards to be followed. Screen printers work on their feet for long periods, and frequent bending and lifting may be required. Many of these workers are regularly required to work overtime to meet print deadlines. Shift work may be required in some workplaces, which can include nights and weekends. Protective clothing, such as overalls, is often required.
Tools and technologies
Screen printers can spread ink over stencils either by hand or using special printing machines. Printed materials are then dried by placing them into drying racks or by using dryers which either use hot air or ultraviolet light to speed up the process. Screen printers must mix inks using specific ratios and quantities to produce a sufficient quantity of desired colours, computers, calculators and detailed records of previous printing jobs can be used to assist in this process. They must also use solvents and other cleaning equipment to remove waste and ink build up from machines after each job.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a screen printer, you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in screen printing and stencil preparation. The apprenticeship usually takes 36 months to complete.
You can also undertake a traineeship in screen printing (level 2). The traineeship usually takes 18 months to complete and is available as a school-based traineeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing