March '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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The Big Screen B Y M I K E C L A R K 52 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 8 O f all the components in a screen-printing shop, the screen is one of the most important tools for any quality print, if not the most. After all, without quality mesh and build, the quality of ink, press, and dryer are almost irrelevant if a job doesn't start from the right foundation. Following is a discussion on how to build quality screens for screen printing, as well as the explora- tion of whether to perform that operation in-house, or outsource. SUPPLIES AND SPECS For screen building, shops will want to have a few key tools on-hand, and adhere to a few basic rules of thumb. PJ Loomis, A&P Master Images, suggests some of the following tools to start out: • A computer to create/design images for the screen • An inkjet printer to print clear inkjet film paper • An emulsion to coat the screen • An exposure unit to project UV light onto the emulsion and image on the screen • A washout booth to spray the burned emulsion out of the screen Matthew Marcotte, T&J Printing Supply also notes that shops should have a light-safe area to work on screens. This can be a rela- tively low-cost, "DIY" setup, he explains. "The easiest way is to get a "bug light" from the [hardware] store," says Marcotte. "This will be a yellow filtered bulb usu- ally that does not attract bugs like normal lights. This will filter out most UV light." Shops can also purchase UV blocking tubes that will slip over most bulbs in a ballast and block UV light. While a printer can stock a wide variety of screen sizes with varying mesh counts, sources tend to agree that there isn't one specific rule as to what to have on-hand. While most standard jobs can be tackled with a 23" X 31" screen, the mesh count gets tricky because different companies vary in the counts. "Mesh counts differ from shop to shop and there are lots of different manufactur- ers that have slight differences in what the count is," states Marcotte. "The base of what you need to know is that the higher the count the finer the weave and the less ink flows through and the higher detail you can hold." Lon Winters,, adds that too much variety can be prob- TIPS AND TOOLS FOR SCREEN MAKING

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