Prepping a screen involves several variables from selecting the proper mesh count and mesh thread diameter to choosing the right screen tension.. Follow these five steps to guarantee quality, industry level results every time.
Step 1: Proper Mesh Count
The proper mesh count is determined by the garment you are printing on, how you would like your art to look, and the ink that you are using. For example, if you would like a more detailed print you would use a higher mesh count. For further guidelines please read this blog: ‘Guidelines for Selecting the Proper Mesh Count’
Step 2: Mesh Thread Diameter
A thinner thread diameter for any given mesh count will reduce the thickness of the mesh. This allows more ink to be deposited onto the substrate. The thinner thread diameter results in larger mesh openings. This makes printing easier and is vital when a crisp, clean, or detailed design is desired. The thinner thread diameter provides a smoother surface.
Step 3: Screen Frames
If you guarantee that your screen frames are properly cleaned and aligned straight than this will ensure that prints come out bold, bright, crisp, and clear. Metal frames will not only last longer than wood frames, but they will also resist warping, and hold mesh tension longer. Mesh tension can be tightened or adjusted with retensional frames.
Step 4: Mesh Tension
Mesh tension should be equal lengthwise as well as cross-ways. Tension is measured in Newtons with a tension meter. If the tension is equal, than this achieves uniform mesh openings. Once the ideal tension is achieved, let it sit and adjust again if needed.
Step 5: Degreasing
Dehazing is a vital step in prepping a screen due to the fact that this removes ghost images of previous designs and ink stains that have accumulated on reused mesh. Dehazing is necessary to complete after two to three jobs a screen is reclaimed. This is depending on how much detail the next design requires. Degreasing is important to complete prior to applying emulsion. This removes oil, dust, and fingerprints. This step is vital as it can improve the adhesion of the emulsion. After degreasing, keep frames in a clean environment until ready to be coated.