March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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54 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 7 Tools of the Trade The Necessary Equipment for Screen Making B Y S A N D R A S E P A N I A K S creen making is an integral part of the screen-printing process, and it's something that is done with almost any new job that enters your shop. Figuring out where to start can be mind-boggling for beginners. To make the task easier, Printwear asked a few industry experts to help create a guide of the tools needed for the process. FRAMES Frames are the skeleton on which all screens are based. They maintain a flat, taut surface for the best possible prints. Two common types of screen frames are wood and alumi- num. Tim Consilvio, Commercial Screen Sup- ply, says stretching screens in-house is easier with wood frames since they only require staples and tape to keep the mesh in place. Ryan Bolin, Texsource, adds that wood frames are a cheaper solution for disposable jobs, or if the screen is filed on the shelf for repeated use. But, wooden frames have their faults. For one, when exposed to water in a wash- out booth, they slowly warp and swell. Taylor Landesman, Lawson Screen & Digital Products, points out that most frame re-stretchers will not re-stretch on wood frames. Though it requires fast-dry glue and spray activator to keep mesh in place, aluminum offers a flush surface, is more stable than other materials, and aids in shearing ink from the mesh and achieving proper ink depth. Alu- minum frames additionally reduce screen fatigue and hold higher, more consistent tension than wood, as well as retain their shape for years. SCREEN MESH Screen mesh is measured in the number of threads per square inch on the mesh and comes in various densities. For example, 110 mesh contains 110 threads per square inch. Choosing the appropriate mesh count in- volves several factors, including the amount of detail in the design being printed, the color of the garment, and trial and er- ror. Bolin says that as a rule of thumb, extremely detailed de- signs need higher mesh counts, while lower mesh counts suffice for more basic embellishments. Lower mesh counts result in thicker ink deposits and a stiffer, opaque print. Consilvio explains that it's common for plastisol printers to use 110 mesh screens for basic prints, and 200–305 mesh for detailed art and four-color process prints. When using water-based ink, 140 mesh is best for basics, and 305 mesh for complex designs. Sources state that the exception is glitter ink. Depending on the size of the flakes, 86 mesh or lower will allow for the glitter to pass through. Guidelines for choosing the best mesh counts are available from manufacturers, but each job varies. Patience and common sense come in handy here. To prepare the mesh, it is important to apply degreaser to eliminate oil, dirt, and grease before taking any other steps. To en- sure your mesh is properly degreased, you It is important to know which type of screen mesh to use before starting a new job. (Image cour- tesy Commercial Screen Supply)

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