July 20, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing technology has the capacity to replace outdated production technologies, it also has the ability to breathe new life into them and make them available to a whole new generation. That is exactly what art and design teacher Cam Watt has done, by developing a 3D printable kit that can be used to make screen prints on t-shirts and just about any fabric, furniture or surface you can think of. Perfectly for creating unique looks with your own original designs.

Now obviously, the coolness of this kit stands or falls through an understanding of what screen printing actually is. It is, in short, a centuries old technique for transferring designs long before digital design or even electricity existed. The first documented use of the technique can be found a thousand years ago in the China of the Song dynasty, but it was also widely used in the west in the 18th and 19th centuries. It again reared its head in the 1960s, when Andy Warhol popularized it as a multi-colored art technique, while it also became widely used for making inexpensive band shirts in the metal and punk scene.

So how does it work? Screen printing revolves around a mesh that is used to transfer ink onto the surface in question. The mesh is covered by a blocking stencil (in which a unique design has been cut out) that blocks ink from flowing through except for in the design. By moving a squeegee across the screen, the ink is pressed through to create the desired results. And by using various stencils over each other (each with different parts cut out) differently colored inks can be used in succession for a multicolored design. In short, a fantastic, cheap and easy way to breathe life into unique designs, that also works on just about any substrate, even wood, vinyl and plastics.

While the technique itself lost popularity, Cam is now hoping to bring it back into the making community that is always on the lookout for new ways to be original. Cam Watt himself is an art and design teacher who is always tinkering in his garage workshop (hence the user handle in_the_garage) and classrooms. And as a screen printing set can be a bit difficult to come by, he has graciously developed and shared a completely 3D printable set on YouMagine here.

All parts, including the squeegee, frame and even the design you want to transfer can be 3D printed at home on just about any desktop 3D printer. However, you will need a printbed of about 6X6" or larger, as the kit is about 120 x 120 mm in size. Cam himself 3D printed most parts in PLA, and the design in Ninjaflex. The kit, Cam promises, is durable enough for regular use and produces great results on both paper and fabric. Assembly is fairly straightforward, but Cam provides a useful guide as well. This assembly guide can be found here, also including some basic screen printing tips.

The results of the screen print.

Now the best thing about this set is that it actually requires you to make awesome digital designs and transform these into the ‘stencils’ for screen printing. While transforming these into suitable 3D printed components can be a bit of a hassle, Cam and his friend Jamie Allen have developed a fantastic tutorial for turning PNG files into 3D printable STLs. Just keep an eye on their tips, and you will be using 3D printed parts for creating cool shirts within no time.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive