2016 Resource Directory

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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34 || P R I N T W E A R M I D - S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6 T here are YouTube videos, user guides, and a lot of guesswork on how to make a screen. Some of the information out there is very informative, while others, not so much. When it comes down to it though, it's not just about making a screen, but making a better screen, and possibly even a great screen. INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS To make a better screen, start with the pho- topositive. The higher quality the positive, the easier it is to reproduce it. The thing you must look at is the sharpness of the image. Is the black optically opaque, and is the clear area of the positive clear? Inkjet film is the most widely used mate- rial today. It isn't as good as silver halide film or imagesetter films, but it is much better than vellum. If a high resolution is required, you will need a film produced by an imag- esetter. These films are expensive, but they will help create the highest-quality stencil. If using wooden screen frames, stop. Screen mesh cannot be stretched tight enough, nor hold tension during or after printing in wooden frames. They might be cheap to buy, but printing is all about re- producing an image consistently, and wood isn't rigid enough to hold high-tension mesh. Instead, use aluminum frames. They can handle high-tension loads and retain much of the initial tension throughout the process. Let's say you are using an aluminum frame and have the recommended mesh count and tension. What about the color of the mesh? Are you using white or dyed mesh? Mesh color is a huge factor on the resolution. White mesh causes light scat- ter, while dyed mesh absorbs a great deal of light reducing scatter. Usually, mesh counts less than 110 are white, while 230 and higher are colored. As you know, the finer the image, the finer the mesh must be. Also, because dyed mesh doesn't scatter light as much as white mesh, it makes sense to use dyed mesh in higher mesh counts. But, why not use dyed mesh in all mesh counts? Dyed mesh creates a better image quality, and it has better durability than its white counterpart. The only drawback is dyed mesh must be exposed longer to get a complete cure of the emulsion. COATING AND EMULSION Let's move on to the stencil. Have you checked to make sure you are using the correct emulsion or capillary film for your application? There are lots of emulsions and films to choose from, and it can be confusing. The first thing to consider is HOW TO Make a Better Screen b y M i c k O r r Left: Always check the user's guide to ensure that you are using the proper inks and emulsions for the job at hand. (All images courtesy IKONICS) Right: The number of coats on a screen isn't important, rather, it's the emulsion over mesh that matters.

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