screen printing > 4 Color and Simulated Process Printing

4 color process on darks

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Split from Dans post on sim process and its apparent? decline. As we know all shops are different. Shops dedicated to sim process as a daily thing well....they usually share a few traits. 14 plus print heads, large amounts of pantone colors premixed, dedicated ink staff, longer runs, in house seps just to name a few. This does not suit everyones biz model.
Shops that sporatically need full color work done may approach this as true process application (once the UB secrets have been discovered) may approach many if not most full color work in this manner using only six screens, using the same subassembly components (inks squeegees etc.)
Pros: Efficiency (process inks are a consumable rather that the more complicated consumable/subassembly procedure of mixing pantones ie time and labor) Also, while most sim pro seps require 10 or more screens, when done correctly, a true process sep on darks will usually require 6. Therefore screen and setup costs are greatly reduced. I utiliized this thought process when developing a clothing line for a watercolor artist on a budget. Once the separator learns how to manipulate the curves and adjust for the "footprint" of the shop (princeably with regards to dot gain) and had that under reasonable control (without confusion...pun intended) we would gang up all her orders and; leaving squeegees/floodbars in, switch out to the new job pre-registered screens in amazing time. Again, perhaps not a typical biz model, but achievable for those to whom it may apply, and perhaps to some who may be thinking towards these lines.
Cons: Most notably, out of gamut colors that can be difficult to reproduce in CMYK if not impossible (florescents and neons for example).
Also, isolating memory colors such as fleshtones can be a challenge in CMYK.
Lastly, one can certainly argue (myself included) that sim pro gives one quite a bit more control however (and sadly) in todays Amazon culture of "good and right away" tends to win over "give me time and money and it will not be will be great"
This Dinosaur is retiring to his lair however if anyone wants me to expand on this just let me know.


I can rarely recall a design that comes through us that would be logically best printed 4 color process. So we simply don't even consider it. We've probably done it 2 times in history or our shop.

We never get specific requests for it either.

I've been interested in 4 color process printing, and have dabbled in it for a while, however the results are always subpar to what we could do with simulated color process.

I wanted to work on a you get what you pay for model that utilized the virus 4 color process system, however virus is difficult to get, always changing distributors, and difficult to work with. Virus does the seps for you and you used their ink to keep the model more simple, but it still takes 6-7 screens so may as well just do 10 and do sim process if the customer can bare the cost.

Virus was like $75 for the separation, and then 'you get what you get' as the client would have the option between 4 color process with the understanding that the results may not be as brilliant.

Sim process is $20 per color for separations (typically 8-10 colors), then all applicable print cost, screen setups, so typically before we touch a garment it's $500 in setup.

We outsource all separations besides grayscale (ultraseps), use a variety of people.  We have used Separo in the past but again you get what you pay for and paying for professional separations is worth the cost and can be marked up to the customer anyhow.

Did a couple projects with the Virus, some turned out great, others not as well, so it was too hit or miss and even when "you get what you pay for", we can't be putting out poor quality work so it never really panned out long term.

Overall I think with hybrid printing simulated color process and 4 color process is going to go away, but also the demand for that style of printing is out of fashion right now in most cases, which is why it's hard to invest ~500k on a press for hybrid and the machine when the demand isn't currently really there for us.

Long story short, no to 4 color process for me.

Over the years we've experimented with doing 4 color process, to see if it was viable. We always just scrapped it, and moved to sim process. Gave us much better, cleaner, and controllable results.

Though the standard multi color work is our meat and potatoes, we tend to do sim process with no more than 8 colors, since we have a 10 color press and need one if not two flashes. We've done a decent amount of 4 color process on whites and darks, with good results that got us paid and had the customers happy. Of course, there is always something that could be better, but we don't bring that up if the customer doesn't.



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