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Tips on Screen Printing

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View our chart on Screen Printing Films & Emulsions.

Basic Steps in Screen Printing

  1. Create a design to be printed.
  2. Assemble the screen frame (or use a pre-assembled frame).
  3. Prepare the screen by degreasing and abrading the fabric mesh.
  4. Apply the design to the screen in one of several ways:
    • Non-photographic methods:
      1. Cut or tear a paper stencil. This is an elementary classroom method for very short runs.
      2. 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.
      3. 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:
        1. Start with a film positive of your design.
        2. Apply photo-sensitive direct film or direct emulsion to your prepared screen. Follow manufacturer's instructions.
        3. Expose the film positive in contact with the screen to a proper light source.
      • Indirect Method:
        1. Start with a film positive (same as above).
        2. Expose the film positive in contact with the photo-sensitive indirect screen printing film, using a proper light source.
        3. 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.
        4. While the film is still wet, apply it to your prepared screen according to instructions.
  5. Finish the screen:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  6. Print the design on the material you have chosen, using a squeegee to force the ink through the open areas of your screen.
  7. Dry the prints or garments, heat setting them if necessary.
  8. Clean the ink from the screen using the proper solvent.
  9. Reclaim the screen for future use by removing the stencil. Use appropriate removers.

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