best practices

What Are The Best Screen Printing Practices?

This article tries to shed some light into the best and most important screen printing practices in the industry. In this article as well, you can some of the passed-over but important screen printing practices, procedures and considerations. Without all these things, you will not be successful with the process of screen printing and creating an amazing printed design.

Following that, screen printing is one of the biggest and greatest businesses or so some people think. There’s a lot of fun in working in the screen printing trade as you get to print some cool, stylish logos, designs and prints. You can also add some real neat effects which make the print extra special. The hard work of seeing a freshly printed shirt after so many hours you made it is simply awe-inspiring and really worth it.

But, before you can arrive to that proud moment of a freshly made, beautifully designed, there is a balance that has to be maintained between several factors. There are things you need to do that involve choosing substrate, ink options, frames, screens, chemicals and a lot others. You need to figure out all these things before you can begin on printing.


The Importance of Ink

Of the many tools and materials used in various screen printing practices, the ink is probably the one with most influence to the failure or success of screen printing. This is because there are ink-associated variables that you need to figure out and adjust. The variables usually consist of surface tension, viscosity, temperature, solvent vaporization speed, shear and more.

Among these factors, the ink’s evaporation speed is one of the most important but mostly overlooked. The fact is that the evaporation speed of the ink can help determine the odds of the ink drying. As such, it makes choosing of the ink an important aspect of screen printing. It can help you in what kind of fabric to use as well as all the other things that can be affected during the printing process.

No matter what kind of ink that you use in the printing, there is a simple rule you need to remember. The rule is to add some more ink at one time yet you need to add little ink very often so that you can maintain the ink’s right working conditions. This rule is not only effective to avoid your issues over the ink drying within the plate.

At the same time, if you pour huge quantities of liquid ink on the screen, it can result to the screen deflecting and some of the characteristics getting altered and off-contact. Similarly, it will be expensive and a waste when you pour excessive ink since the unused ink would result to contamination and lose solvents. As such, they cannot be used again and that will surely be a waste.


How Are the Stencils Used?

The stencil is the one that define the image as it provides the ink with boundary and metering. It allows for the amount of ink that the mesh deposits can be controlled. The stencil is an important material in screen printing as it is where the accurateness of the image replication depends upon. With the stencil’s capability of forming a gasket-like seal for the non-image and image areas, you are able print an accurate and defined image.

Of the many screen printing practices that is used in the industry, the stencil is one that has to be considered to ensure better results with the prints. In terms of the stencil, some of the things that have to be considered are the flatness and thickness of the stencil. There is also the emulsion’s bridging properties, an important aspect that can affect the printed images’ edge definition.

If the stencil you used is too smooth which means it has a very low RZ, the stencil may stick to the substrate. This will result to reduced quality of the print which, of course, is not a good thing. In addition, the mesh geometry helps in determining the right amount of ink that will be metered through the ink.

On the other hand, the stencil thickness affects film thickness of the ink. If the image has fine lines or dots, however, the thickness of the stencil can have some significant effects when it comes to ink deposit. But, when printing large areas, the stencil thickness generally only affects the image’s edge definition. With how the stencil affects the printing, choosing the right stencil serves a good screen printing practice.


Using the Squeegee

The squeegee is one of the important materials which are used to bring the stencil and substrate in contact. This way, the ink can be released from the mesh. However, when using squeegee you have to remember that any other effects are likely to bring a negative impact on the process of screen printing. With the use of squeegee, the wave in the ink can be created when it pass across the screen.

This wave is a pressure system which allows for mesh openings to be filled when the ink wave begins over the stencil. It will also push the stencil through until the point that the substrate is in contact with it. There are several parameters which you need to consider when you select and use a squeegee. They include profile, hardness, length, angle, pressure, flexibility, unsupported height and speed.


Important Procedures in Screen Printing

In screen printing, there are important printing procedures and considerations which affect the results of the printing. Without these procedures, it will not be easy for you to achieve a highly defined and accurately printed image as you would want to. Here are some of the important screen printing practices and procedures you need to know:


  • Preparation Time

This is the most important part of the screen printing process. If there is any break down in this process, it will end up in domino-effect on the rest of the printing process. During the prep time, the best advice would be to do research and find the best products as well as systems that match your shop and your budget.

With the right tools and equipment, it will make the entire process easy and done correctly. It is also important that you set them up correctly. If you do it sloppily, then everything in the process is likely to end up all over the place. As such, you must always do it right or you will do it multiple times.

The darkroom is yet another of the things that most screen printers overlook. It is one of the critical parts of the shop but it is also mostly neglected. As a good screen printing practice, you must always keep the darkroom’s humidity low. On that note, it will be good for you to have a quality humidity tester.

The fact is that when the humidity in the darkroom is too high, the emulsion will not stick right and the screen will not dry properly. At the same time, it is essential that the mesh is decreased. You cannot use sub-par products in this or your print will suffer. On that note, you can always find a good quality, eco-friendly and inexpensive degreasers if you look around.

Degreasing is important as it allows for the emulsion to stick on right on the mesh. So don’t forget to degrease the frame’s sides especially since this part of the frame’s hold contaminants. It’s also a good screen printing practice to use dual-purpose products in addition to plastisol and water-based inks.

  • The Framework

As for the frames, you will find there is a variety you can choose from. The static or stretch and glue frames are ideal for those who are just starting out because they are easy to use. Wood frames are popular because they are inexpensive, but you should know that they tend to warp easily.

A quality tension meter is also a useful and practical tool in this business. With such a tool, you will be able to easily read the mesh’s tension or tautness. This is important as a saggy screen will have issues on ink transfer. At the same time, there may also some image distortion issues with it so it’s better to choose a high quality product.

There is the roller frame which is important as well. In this type of screen, fine prints are better and you can take advantage as well of a few extra advantages such as better print quality and higher tension. When it comes to converting to roller frames, make sure to use a good quality mesh so the screen doesn’t break from the tension.

So, these are a few things you must know about screen printing. Of course, there are many practices you must know if you are serious about learning screen printing. There are a lot of things, practices and procedures that are good to know in this trade to improve your print. Those mentioned above are some of the most important which can significantly affect the results of your printed product.