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THE SCREEN PRINTING INSTRUCTIONS FOR BEGINNERS

STEP 1: What do you want to print on?

In the first step, you first must decide on which surface you want to print your design. For every material to be printed, there is an optimal screen mesh and corresponding colors. Therefore, it is important that you first know what exactly to print. As a result, which screen mesh is the best choice for you.

Covered screen printing frames are not only available in different sizes, but also with different density. It is important that you select the right screen mesh for the prints. For the first prints on garments we recommend a frame with low density.

STEP 2: select the artwork and make the graphics suitable for screen printing.

After you have decided which material you want to print on, you have to select the artwork and prepare it so that it can be used for screen printing. For the first prints, we strongly recommend single-color designs with solid colors, without color gradients. For example, typefaces and simple, full-color areas are particularly suitable. Gradients and multi-colored subjects can be printed in screen printing but are much harder to realize and not recommended for beginners. These topics will be discussed later elsewhere.

In order to edit a design so that you can use as a template for the exposure, it must be available as a completely black graphic. (RGB: 000000 or CMYK: 10, 0, 0, 100). Take into account to printing the design on a transparent foil with an inkjet or laser printer. As an image editing program, we recommend Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. The programs for editing graphics include Paint.net and Inkscape (for vector graphics).

Basically, it is important that the films are printed with your design in deep black, so that no light can penetrate through the graphic. After printing you can hold the film under light to check quality. If you do not succeed in such an expression, it is best to print two films. Then you can put these on the exposure on top of each other.

You may print photos and graphics with color gradients via screen printing.

STEP 3: clean the screen frame well before use

Before first use, the screen printing frame must be grease-free (no fingerprints) and free of dust particles so that the photo emulsion can adhere well. After unpacking the frame, it must first be cleaned with a degreaser, then washed well and then dried.

The degreaser is safe and can be disposed of normally via the wastewater. You can also do the washing in the bath or shower. The screen printing frame can then be dried with a hair dryer. Keep it but please about 10 cm distance to the sieve, as this can also tear at too high a temperature. Alternatively, the frame can also be dried in the air or next to a heater.

STEP 4: coating the frame with photo emulsion.

In order to produce the ready-to-print stencil in the screen printing frame, the photo emulsion is first required. This liquid is drawn with the coating trough on both sides of the frame.

Before you open the packaging of the photo emulsion, please first make sure that the room in which you work is darkened. There must be no bright daylight into the room. If you do not have a suitable room, please do the following part of the coating and exposure in the dark. Use a candle or a very weak source of artificial light so that you can see something else.

Optimal here as well as in the photo development, the use of a yellow light lamp , which prevents the premature exposure of the photo emulsion , but still provides enough light to be able to see well.

Why all this? Our photo emulsion is very sensitive to light and cures under UV light. We use this chemical/physical process for the production of our stencil. We offer two different photo emulsions for different applications. For example, with the Easy Blue photo emulsion, you get a very easy-to-use emulsion for printing simple subjects with our watercolors. With our Mega Definition Emulsion you get a photo emulsion, which is also solvent-resistant. With this emulsion even the finest details can be exposed, in order to be able to expose the photos in the halftone screen.

First you have to coat the frame on both sides with photo emulsion. The coating trough is then filled with the photo emulsion . Please add so much photo emulsion into the gutter that it is half full. With the photo emulsion, you now paint the screen printing fabric from both sides. The frame is held slightly angled. The lip of the coating trough is now held to the sieve , tilted towards the tissue and then pulled upwards along the sieve as soon as the emulsion touches the sieve cloth on all sides.

It is important that the lip of the coating channel always has contact with the screen mesh. Only then can a uniform screen coating succeed. The gutter should be pressed well against the mesh.

If the frame is now finished coated, it must be dried. This can be done eg with a hair dryer. Alternatively, the frame should be stored horizontally and dark to dry. We recommend the quick drying with a hair dryer, if no drying cabinet is available. Please take care to keep the hair dryer at a distance of at least 10cm. Please also make sure that the sieve is not too hot, because it can tear. If the frame is dry (as you can tell by the fact that the emulsion no longer shines and sticks (finger test)), you can now start the exposure process. The fun begins!

STEP 5Exposing the screen with a custom design. 

Exposure is by UV light . It can also be done with sunlight, but the method is too unpredictable depending on the weather. If you want to achieve reproducible, always the same exposure results, we recommend the use of an exposure lamp .

First you position the foil with the motif mirrored, centered on the outside (the side on which the fabric is glued) of the dried sieve. Stick the film firmly on the frame with a transparent tape.

Protect the inside of the frame with a piece of cardboard, newspaper or photo carton from light. You need burn the screen on exposure roughly a minute

STEP 6: washing the screen with water.

Please always make sure that the freshly exposed frame is not exposed to any further intense light radiation until the subject is actually washed out of the sieve. Once exposed, remove the film from the screen and wet it with water on both sides. You can, for example, simply shower off the sieve or wash it off with a water hose. It is best if you can put the sieve in a water bath for 1-2 minutes. If that does not work, just hold the jet of water on the sieve until the motif is completely washed out. This should be done successfully after 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, wet the sieve well with water on both sides, let stand for 2 minutes and then wash all emulsion residues from the stencil. 

If the design does not show up even after several minutes or looks incomplete, then this is always an indicator of overexposure.

How can overexposure occur? There can be several causes here:

  1. You have exposed the strainer to a light source for too long
  2. You have exposed the strainer to a strong light source
  3. Your graphic was not printed sufficiently opaque on the film, so that light could hit the photo emulsion through the graphics.

However, if all the photographic emulsion is washed by the screen when exposed to water, it is always an indicator of underexposure, or due to the use of chemicals that degrade the adhesion of the emulsion to the screen.

If the exposure was successful, you have a ready-made template that can be printed correctly. Now the stencil can also be exposed to the light of day again. If your stencil is not developed as desired, you should immediately remove the sieve again. Just simply apply a sponge or a spray bottle on both sides of the screen. After a few seconds, you can wash out the emulsion with the help of a sponge from the sieve. Wash everything thoroughly with water, dry the sieve and coat it again for another exposure.

STEP 7: preparation for the first screen. 

The sieve must first dry. You can help out here with a lint-free cloth. Avoid wiping with the cloth through the design, as emulsion residues in the residual water can later block the sieve. After drying, the screen is taped to the edges with screen adhesive tape, because the edges must not penetrate later during printing. Then the frame is ready for printing. The great thing about screen printing: After a few seconds, you have a high-quality, very noble and durable print in your hand. Even large quantities can be quickly realized in screen printing once the stencil has been created. For example, several 100 T-shirts are screen printed within 1-2 hours.

STEP 8: printing with ecological watercolors.

Especially with textile printing, it is important that the colors do not contain any chemicals that are detrimental to health or cause allergies. For this reason, we use only screen printing inks, which are harmless to the user and the wearer. In the example, we now use this color to print a T-shirt by placing the finished screen frame on the textile, painting the color on the screen and stroking the color through the screen using the squeegee .

If we take the frame down now, we have a clean print. Water base ink dries in the air, but other ones should be dried under high temperature heating. For larger quantities, we recommend drying conveyors. It also makes sense to use a professional screen printing machine if you want to print larger quantities. With a right print table, the entire printing process becomes significantly faster and more comfortable.

STEP 9: screen cleaning, tools and frames are cleaned. 

After printing, all tools, such as squeegees, silkscreen frames and spatulas in contact with water color, can be cleaned with water again. In particular, the sieve must be washed well with sieve cleaner and water. Unfortunately, water paints have not only positive properties, but also a big disadvantage: they dry quickly in the sieve and must be processed quickly. There should be no long breaks when printing with watercolors. In the worst case, the paint dries in the sieve and can then only be removed with difficulty. Please never let screen printing inks dry in the sieve. For each kind of ink has their specific cleaning supply.

STEP 10: dismantling a frame- make old out of old.

As already described in step 4, a sieve coated and exposed with photoemulsion can also be stripped off again, so that it can be used for a new design. All you have to do is apply the degreaser on both sides of the sieve, wait a few seconds and then wash the sieve completely using water. After degreasing again, the screen must then be dried before it can be recoated. You can also practice this process at home.

If you want to design your own apparel just click to design program

These are the basic steps in creating a screen print template.