Tips on Screen Printing
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View our chart on Screen Printing Films & Emulsions.
Basic Steps in Screen Printing
- Create a design to be printed.
- Assemble the screen frame (or use a pre-assembled frame).
- Prepare the screen by degreasing and abrading the fabric mesh.
- Apply the design to the screen in one of several ways:
- Non-photographic methods:
- Cut or tear a paper stencil. This is an elementary classroom method for very short runs.
- Paint on the screen using block-out, Speedball Drawing Fluid/Screen Filler or liquid tusche, tusche pencils or tusche crayons. This is a free-style painterly method.
- Cut a stencil out of film and adhere it to the screen, following manufacturer's instructions. This hand-cut method is for bold, hard-edge designs.
- Photographic methods:
- Direct Method:
- Start with a film positive of your design.
- Apply photo-sensitive direct film or direct emulsion to your prepared screen. Follow manufacturer's instructions.
- Expose the film positive in contact with the screen to a proper light source.
- Indirect Method:
- Start with a film positive (same as above).
- Expose the film positive in contact with the photo-sensitive indirect screen printing film, using a proper light source.
- Use the prescribed developer (A & B developer or water, depending on the film) to wash out the positive parts of your design, leaving the film open in those areas for printing ink to pass through.
- While the film is still wet, apply it to your prepared screen according to instructions.
- Finish the screen:
- Apply liquid block-out or tape to all areas outside of the film edges that you do not want to print, using a brush, flat plastic scraper or piece of cardboard. Also fill pin holes, if any, with a small brush.
- Use water-moistened gummed tape or polyester film tape to seal the edges of the screen frame to prevent ink from getting into hard-to-clean areas.
- Print the design on the material you have chosen, using a squeegee to force the ink through the open areas of your screen.
- Dry the prints or garments, heat setting them if necessary.
- Clean the ink from the screen using the proper solvent.
- Reclaim the screen for future use by removing the stencil. Use appropriate removers.