Screen Printing Chemicals
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What are the three main types of emulsions?
The three main types of emulsions are diazo, SBQ-based or photopolymer, and dial cure.
Diazo emulsions are a good choice for novice screen printers because they are affordable and easy to use. They require the manual mixing of photosensitizer with resins. Diazo emulsions change color during exposure, letting you know visually the degree to which your stencil is exposed. However, diazo emulsions are less sensitive to light than other types of emulsions and require longer exposure times. The resulting stencil tends to be thicker, making diazo emulsions a poor choice for detailed prints or prints that require halftones. Once mixed, diazo emulsions will last a few months on the shelf.
SBQ-based or photopolymer emulsions expose within seconds, making them much faster than diazo emulsions. They are pre-sensitized, meaning that they are ready to use right out of the package with no mixing or other preparation required. The more delicate bonds created make them a good choice for detailed work. These emulsions tends to create a thinner stencil, but multiple coats can be layered if a thicker stencil is required. Pure photopolymer emulsions have long shelf lives, but most are not very water-resistant. As a result, they are not as well suited to waterbased inks.
Dual-cure emulsions combine diazo and photopolymer emulsions. Dual-cure emulsions are versatile and create very durable stencils. They require mixing and cure faster than diazo emulsions, but not as quickly as SBQ-based emulsions.