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I NTRODUCTI ON TO ART - FI LMS & OUTPUT - SCREEN ROOM & PREP

J OB SET UP - CURI NG - BREAKDOWN - TI PS & TRI CKS - TROUBLE SHOOTI NG


SCREEN PRI NTI NG ACADEMY SCREEN PRI NTI NG
Class Manual
Ryonet
Ryonet
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SCREEN PRI NTI NG ACADEMY SCREEN PRI NTI NG
CONTRIBUTING INSTRUCTORS
Ryan Moor, Mark Berryman, Marvin Guillot,
Nick Wood, TJ Stepper, Don Garrison.
Edited by Leesa Leilani
C
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t
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Intro
Chapter 1
Chapter 3
Screen Printing (An Introduction)
Introduction to Art
Films & Output
Screen Room & Screen Prep
Setting Up a Print Job
Curing Parameters





3-10
11-26
27-30
31-47
48-62
63-67
Chapter 2
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 8
Breaking Down a Job
Production Tracking
Additional Tips & Advice
Troubleshooting Tips
Marketing Tips
Production Charts


68-69
70-72
73-85
86-89
90-95
96-98
Chapter 7
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SCREEN PRINTING!
An introduction
Screen printing (also referred to as silk screening, screen process printing and serigraphy) is
a unique method of transferring or printing graphic images, and is considered by many to be
one of the oldest methods of printing. It was first used by the Chinese and the J apanese to
decorate clothing, reproduce artwork and publish posters with the latest words of wisdom of
the emperor. Over 1000 years ago it was discovered that woven silk stretched on a wood
frame, with a stencil image attached to the bottom with glue, could be used to reproduce the
same image over and over on different materials by forcing ink or paints through the opening
in the stencil. That's screen printing!
Today, screen printing is a multi billion dollar a year industry. It integrates exciting industries
like fashion, design, sports, music, education, corporate America and much more! There are
thousands of niche markets to go after and lots of profit potential for anyone who desires it in
this industry. There's nothing like creating a concept from initial design and seeing the first
print come off the press! You're entering a fun, exciting, and rewarding industry! Welcome to
screen printing!
The following basic components of Screen Printing will be discussed:
- Art Or Design
- Frame And The Mesh
- Stencil Carrying The Image
- Ink
- Squeegee
- Press System
- Substrate (material) To Be Printed
There have been many advancements over the years in materials, techniques, and equipment
that allow today's screen printer to use the process to print almost anything anywhere. This
course is intended to cover some of these advances in screen printing, and helping to
integrate the new ideas into your printing efforts. You will develop your ability to recognize and
reduce variables and problems within the process to achieve 'the perfect print'.
X
X
X
X
3
(A DEEPER INTRODUCTION TO SCREEN PRINTING)
The basic idea in silk screening is to create a screen through which ink can form designs on a
large number of duplicates. You create a positive image (film) in a black ink which is placed
onto a UV light sensitive emulsion coated screen that is tightly stretched over a wood or metal
frame. When the emulsion is exposed, the part that is exposed to light "cures" (hardens),
while the unexposed portion blocked out by the black positive image (film) remains soft.
When washed out, the soft emulsion is simply washed away, leaving a "negative" image of the
design. The mesh of the screen (synthetic silk these days) is open (like fine screen wire;
hence, the name "screen") so that ink can pass through the unexposed (where the emulsion
was washed away) portions only -- like a stencil. The frame holding the designed silk is placed
against the object to be printed, ink is applied and a squeegee is pulled across to force a
small amount of ink from the top, through the screen, onto the
receiving item (T-shirt, sign, etc.).
The screen printed object is removed and set out to dry and the
next object is inserted. Obviously, literally thousands of prints
can be made from a single screen at a very economical price.
When additional colors are desired, a separate screen is
prepared for each color (the artwork has to be color separated
in order to split it for multiple screens). Most screen printers
have drying racks or commercial dryers designed for the size
and type objects the operator does most.
The biggest (and most costly) job is setting up the design or
copy on the screens. This is why a job of 24 t-shirts can cost
up to $200. The first t-shirt bears the cost of setting up; the
rest represent only the receiving item's cost, overhead plus
a fraction of a cent for the ink. Some printer's store "used"
screens when they expect additional orders of the same designs (like real-estate
signs); otherwise, they wash them out when the job is completed and use them again for the
next job -- one screen will often last for years.
Usually, customers are charged a set-up fee and a price per item. Example: $50 set-up, plus
cost of printed garment. Since printers are not required to tell customers when they save a
screen, they can charge a new set-up fee even if they don't have to set up the next order. This
fee is also an incentive for the customer to order as many items as possible at one time. Of
course, there are many different levels and variations of screen printing -- from a small hobby
operations, to an "octopus" looking machine, where up to four, six and eight different colors
can be applied in rapid fashion, using plastisol inks (Used mainly in t-shirt printing).
It is easy to find very expensive equipment for this business: However, it's also just as easy to
find a company that offers an affordable start-up and training package solution. The total cost
to set up a small silk screening studio should be in the neighborhood of $500 to $2,000,
depending on the size of the operation and the amount of equipment.
4
What should you expect to make? This varies depending on the type of jobs you print, the
quantity, and how many colors. With efficient equipment, streamlined operating procedures,
and good sales efforts, you can maximize profit, taking on larger and more complex jobs. A
manual screen printer can literally make more then a lawyer or doctor per hour fairly easily!
There are numerous screen printing jobs available. T-shirts, hats, printing name tags (on
plastic or metal holders), bumper stickers (on self-stick paper), banners (buy them blank),
designs on flags or ensigns (also purchased blank), political posters, (paper or plastic), street
signs (for the city) and truck signs (fleets), souvenirs,
advertising stands -- and thousands of other possibilities.
Some screen printers specialize in one or two phases of the art
(depending on the market), allowing them to keep mostly one
size of screens, holders and drying racks. As a screen printer,
you will be able to judge which jobs in your area could be
most economically produced by screening by simply
showing potential customers how you can save them money
and give them a better product! It's better to find a niche,
because if you don't, you could be niched!
To get started in the screen printing business, accumulate
your equipment, learn to operate it efficiently (ruin some
materials), read about the art and most importantly, invest
in training! When you are ready, know exactly what you
can and cannot do (DO NOT experiment on your
customers -- there is too much to lose) and seek only
those that you can do well. Start contacting businesses that could use your
services -- show them samples and prices. Tell them how long it will take (since you are local,
this will be one of your strongest selling points), Be sure to deliver when you promise! Place
ads in the local paper, and always leave a business card so people can call you to bid on jobs.
Keep accurate business records. Most importantly, keep a copy of what the customer
approves to go on his order. Have the customer review AND INITIAL the order sheet showing
exactly (spelling, layout, color) how the products are to appear. Ask the customer to please
check carefully for any errors BEFORE you run off 100 or 1000 shirts! This attention to detail
will save you time, money and many headaches.
In screen printing; there are projects you can complete instead of commercial jobs, or in
addition to, or between jobs. Buying and printing your own objects for resale is a
great way to increase profits. Ceramic mugs with the school or town emblem,
ceramic tiles with scenes, fancy keep off the grass signs, or even something to hang
on a small suction cup in the car (BABY ON BOARD), are just a few examples.
THAT MEANS MORE PROFIT -- IS THAT OK WITH YOU?
5
Printing
Inks
Color
Other
squeegee side
flood stroke
print stroke
off contact
bleed
halo
moire pattern
Plastisol
Water base
Solvent
UV
viscosity
high density ink
curable reducer
color separation
opaque
transparent
process colors
duotone
squeegee
squeegee sharpener
durometer
flood coat
Rubylith
Coroplast
table adhesive
blockout
scoop coater
photo emulsion
table adhesive
solvent resist tape
ghost image
haze
extender/soft hand base
Plastisol base
tinting compounds
puff additive
stretch additive
Screens
Printing
Photo Processes
Print Terms

degreasing
screen frame
tri loc registration
static frame
roller frame
screen fabric
mesh
mesh count
mesh tension
vacuum frame
reclaiming
squeegee side
shirt side
flood stroke
print stroke
off contact
on contact
bleed
halo
moire pattern
off-contact
Emulsion
Registration
Image alignment
exposure unit
overexposure
diazo
bridging
dot
dot gain
opaquing
resolution
right-reading
sensitizer
silk screen/serigraphy/screen
printing
edition
monoprint
monotype
chop
proof
solid
substrate
Photographic and Darkroom
Terms
Registration
Stencils
Clean up
film positive/transparency
water proof film
film negative
continuous tone
halftone
spot color
stroke
trapping
registration marks
center marks
masking
tension
pre registration template
tri loc system
Color
color separation
direct photo emulsion stencil
block out
paper cut stencils
direct screen filler stencil
drawing fluid stencils
handcut film stencils
capillary film
positive stencil
negative stencil
watermark
sizing
pressure washer
surfactants
haze remover
solvent
stripper
screen reclaimer /tri sodium
phosphate (TSP)
degrease
SCREEN PRINT TERMINOLOGY
LEARN I T WELL!
6
SCREEN PRINTING STEP BY STEP:
It ALL Starts with Artwork:
2. Film Positives:
3. Screen Making:
Whether you create it or a customer brings it to you, this is where it all starts. Since
everything starts with artwork, its very important that you make sure you start with GOOD
ARTWORK. If you dont, its garbage =garbage out, and you dont want to be printing
garbage. You can create artwork in an artwork program, receive it electronically, clean it up if
needed, and even out source it to a third party.
Time is money. If you are not a brilliant artist it is wise to use a vector art
program or plugin, which is a Corel Draw supplementary program. These
quick and easy tools ensure that you will have high quality artwork in the end in less
than half the time. Corel Draw is an optimal program for screen printers because it is
easy to use, it can vector and resize images, and there are lots of different additions
available for it. Photoshop can be used as well, but this is more for full color printing
like simulated process or four color process, etc., which is not good to start out with
since there are special techniques to master before moving into this realm. Illustrator
is another program often used by screen printers who have graphic experience. Similar to
Corel Draw, it is vector although a little harder to learn as you begin for the novice screen
printer and graphic artist.
In order to prepare your print properly you need to use one of the programs above to color
separate the artwork if the artwork is multiple color.
Your screen emulsion / stencil exposes to light. The goal of a film positive is to block the light
from reaching the area of the screen under the image area. Since the goal of the film positive
is to block light, primarily you would want to achieve the blackest print possible. There are
several types of printers and films you can use. Optimally it is best to use an inkjet (Epson)
printer with a water proof film that retains and holds the BLACKEST ink (R-Film WP).
For every color you have, you will print it out as a black plate on a separate film.
For example, if you have a logo that is Red & Black, you would separate the
two colors from themselves and print each out, changing the red to black
for printing and then printing the black. Each of these would be printed
on their own film by a printer. This is simply known as art separation. If
the colors are touching in the final version of the logo, you need to
have what is called trap or choke. Basically, it's overlapping the
artwork by a small margin, just enough so you can register the colors with
no space between them. On the films, you will also place registration marks. These
marks usually are a circle with a vertical and horizontal line passing through it. These marks
will be on the same spot on each film. This will help you register your colors later, it's also a
good idea to include center marks so the design will be accurately centered on the platen.
Screen printing was originally referred to as silk screen printing because the screen mesh
used to be made from silk. As this is no longer the case (now they are made from a polyester
weave), the name changed. Most screens are basically a wood a aluminum frame (aluminum
being more popular because they last longer) with a polyester mesh stretched across them at
a very high tension and glued onto the frame with an epoxy or cyanoacrylate glue. Mesh is
measured by how many threads cross per square inch, some examples that are used on
screens would be 24, 36, 60, 86, 110, 156, 200, 230, 280, and 305. The lower the mesh
count, the more ink that is laid down, the higher, less ink but more detail is retained.
7
SCREEN PRINTING STEP BY STEP (CONT.)
Choosing the proper mesh for the job is important and with help from this book and
experience in time you'll learn through testing and results. It's always a good idea to keep
production records for consistency from the beginning of every job. Before you apply your
stencil to your screen, it is important to clean it or degrease it. This takes all the dust and
grease particles off the screen mesh, allowing the emulsion to adhere.
Emulsion is a light sensitive liquid about the consistency of molasses. Since it is light
sensitive it is important that you use it in a light safe environment. To coat the screen wiht
emulsion you will use a tool called a scoop coater. This trough holds the emulsion and allows
it to be placed onto the mesh. Its important that you get a even coat of emulsion on the
screen mesh, you do this by using both hands and a fair amount of pressure to press against
a propped screen and ensure both sides are being coated evenly. TIP, emulsion thickness
EQUALS ink thickness. For thicker stencils it's a good idea to dry between coatings otherwise
it will drip off the mesh. .
You have to let the emulsion dry before you can expose the screen. This book
explains the proper process to do so. When you are ready to expose, a good
light source is needed for this process. The exposure unit is basically a box with
a glass top, a compression lid or rubber blanket, and a vacuum frame. The light
source is contained in this box. To expose a screen, take the film positive you
created and place it on the glass top with the right reading face up. Take the
dried screen and place it on the glass top with the film positive under it. The
screen mesh will be touching the film positive. As the lid is closed, the
compression lid presses the foam against the screen and the positive providing contact.

The length of time is dependent on your emulsion and light source. Most manufacturers have
recommended exposure times for their emulsions. Ryonet has recommended exposure times
for our emulsions and for all of the light units we sell. Keep in mind, these are all
RECOMMENDED times, this means its always good to know that sometimes things may vary
slightly. An exposure calculator and testing can help determine the optional time to expose a
screen at.
Once your image is exposed its time to wash your screen out. Keep in mind that your film
positive blocked the light from reaching this area of the screen so your screen is left
unexposed. This means that you need to keep your screen in a light safe area until after its
washed out. To wash your screen out, set it in a tub or preferably a washout sink. Spray it
down with cool clean water for and allow to soak for 1-2 minutes. After it has been allowed to
soak you will see the image appear as the unexposed emulsion begins to loosen. Once this
happens you can spray your screen with medium pressure (a strong garden hose or pressure
washer) and blow out your image. During washout its important to be careful not to apply too
much water or pressure to you emulsion, if the emulsion soaks up too much water even the
exposed areas of the screen will begin to washout, the same thing applies to using excessive
pressure. After your screen is washed out you can now hold it up to light to ensure that your
entire image is washed out. Next you need to dry your screen.
To dry a screen, lay out newsprint and pat the inside (squeegee side) with one sheet, DO
NOT rub the screen, let the screen(s) dry naturally, you can use a fan or even set the screen
outside in the sun to dry. You will want to check for pinholes (little holes caused by dust, dirt)
and block out with emulsion or a commercial blocking agent, then dry. After the screen has
completely dried expose again (post hardening) for a longer lasting stencil. This can be done
in your exposure unit or out in the bright sun.
8
SCREEN PRINTING STEP BY STEP (CONT.):
The Printing Press (where the magic happens):
Ink Options:
Preparing to Print:
Screen printing your first shirt!
Choosing a printing press is something you should put some thought into.
Remember, your screen printing press prints t-shirts, t-shirts =money, the faster
and more concise you print those shirts, the more money you make! If you are
looking for a space saving option, the LowRider dryer is actually a high production
space saving press/ dryer combo system that puts the traditional all in one unit to
shame and even out performs other manual presses and dryers in the space!
What to look for in a press is a solid frame, joystick or micro registration if
possible, a quality construction that will last a long time, a proven track record
in the industry, and rotating platens and screens that spin quickly. Being able to
quickly register a press is almost as important as how it prints. Remember, the faster
your press works for you, the less you have to work!
Most screen printer prefer to use plastisol ink for garment printing although
recently environmental and fashion trends have made discharge and water
based inks very popular. Inks are made with a base (either plastisol /
petroleum or water) and colored with pigment. The consistency of the ink is
directly correspondent to how much pigment is needed in the ink. Bright
colors +dark garments =higher pigment load in the ink =a lower ink viscosity.
For instance, black ink will always be thinner than white ink because white ink is typically
meant for printing on darker colors. Thus white ink needs a higher pigment load for it to show
up on dark.
Its time to line things up and get ready to print! To save you time as you
setup your press its important to remember how much simpler center lines
can make your life! If you use center lines in your artwork, center your
films on your screen prior to exposure, and draw center lines on your printing
platens, then making sure your screen is centered in the press is easy. Simple one
color prints may only need center lines where as multiple color prints would benefit from
additional registration marks surrounding the print. You want to place your screens in the
approx spot there are going to sit in your press.
Before you register its also important to adjust the off contact of the screen. Off contact =the
distance between the screen mesh and the shirt. Youd typically want about 1/16th-1/8th inch
of off contact evenly throughout the screen and platen. This allows the mesh a small amount
of space to release the ink onto the garment. Once off contact is set and the screen is
centered you can register your screen to either the film positives or the print itself by lining
each color to the most encompassing/prominant color. During registration youre getting close
to production and at this point in the game its a good idea to fire up your heaters so they have
ample time to warm up. After your screens are aligned, fill your ink reserve with the desired
color of ink and get ready to print! Before you start production, its always important to do
several test prints to ensure consistency of registrations and that the shirt is curing properly.
Now its time to print. It may have seamed like it took a long time to prepare and thats the
truth, most of the time youre going to spend 60-70% of your time preparing for the job and if
youve done a good job preparing, actually printing the job should go fairly quickly.

9
SCREEN PRINTING STEP BY STEP (CONT.):
Curing the Ink:
Curing Options.
Helpful Information:
www.ryonetblog.com
.
In order for in for water base and plastisol ink to cure it needs to reach 320 degrees. If the ink
is thick, the entire ink film needs to reach 320 degrees. This means that if the ink is thicker of
if you are printing ink on top of other ink, youll need to cure it longer so that the BASE of the
ink reaches 320 degrees. Its simple, if the ink is not cured, it washes off, so its in your best
interest to ensure that the ink is effectively cured.

There are several different ways to cure a shirt the main objective in curing is for the
ink to reach a temperature of 320 degrees. Some of the more basic ways to cure a
shirt include an oven, heat gun, or even an iron. Though these ways work, they are
slow and very hard to predict. More traditional ways include using a flash dryer and
conveyor dryer to achieve a cure. A flash dryer in comprised of a heating element that is
attached to a stand. The heating element rotates above the shirt radiating heat onto the
inks surface. A flash dryers main purpose is to set or gel the ink if you are printing
ink on top of other ink. A flash can also be used to achieve a final cure as well,
achieving a final cure with a flash typically takes about 30-45 seconds. The
quickest and most consistent way to cure a shirt is a conveyor dryer is . A
conveyor has a heating element enclosed in a chamber/tunnel and a belt that
rotates through the tunnel. The shirt is placed on the belt and the belt sends the
shirt through the oven, much like a pizza oven. The belt can be speed up or
slowed down depending on how long the shirt needs to stay in the oven to reach
320 degrees.
Whether you are using a flash dryer or a conveyor dryer you need to ensure that the ink
reaches curing temp. A laser temp gun is a great way to ensure that the ink is
completely cured. This heat measurement device works by shining a laser beam
on the ink surface while it is under a flash dryer or as it comes out of a
conveyor dryer. The laser gun reads the temperature of the ink while it is hot.
If your ink hits 320 degrees, its cured. Remember for a thicker coat of ink you
want the base of the ink to reach 320 degrees so the surface typically is a little
hotter in the 330-340 range. To increase your output a conveyer dryer is needed
to increase your production. When you finish printing a shirt, you pull it off of your platen and
place it on the conveyer dryer. Basically, it's a dryer that has a belt on it that goes through a
tunnel of heat. When it comes out the other side, it is cured. Again, use a temp gun when the
shirt is about to come out, you point the laser beam at the ink and it will give you a
temperature reading. Remember, 320 is the magic number!
Complete resource for Q&A and How To Guides & Videos.
10
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO ART
Explanation Of Jpeg, Gif, And Bmp, Spot Color,
Separations With Photoshop, 4 Color Process,
Corel, Spot Process Separations Studio, and
Assorted Graphic Programs
(Don't let this section overwhelm you as it's for learning purposes.)
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1
JPEG
GIF
BMP
SPOT COLORS
The term actually stands for "J oint Photographic Experts Group," because that is the name of
the committee that developed the format. But you don't have to remember that because even
computer nerds will think you're weird if you mention what J PEG stands for. Instead,
remember that a J PEG is a compressed image file format. J PEG images are not limited to a
certain amount of color, like GIF images are. Therefore, the J PEG format is best for
compressing photographic images. Thus if you see a large, colorful image on the Web, it is
most likely a J PEG file.
While J PEG images can contain colorful, high-resolution image data, it is a lossy format,
which means some quality is lost when the image is compressed. If the image is compressed
too much, the graphics become noticeably "blocky" and some of the detail is lost. Like GIFs,
J PEGs are cross platform, meaning the same file will look the same on both a Mac and PC.
Both GIF and J PEG images are widely used on the Web and are supported by all Web
browsers and other Web software. Charts, screen shots and technical drawings are
compressed best as GIF, which only hold up to 256 colors (8-bit color). Most photographs are
better as a J PEG, which supports 24-bit color and has the option of several compression
levels (the choice depends on how much degradation you can tolerate). If you save a scanned
image in both formats, you may see a dramatic difference in file size between them.
BMP (short for bitmap) is a graphic format used internally by the Microsoft Windows graphics
subsystem, and used commonly as a simple graphics file format on that platform. BMP files
are usually not compressed, typically much larger than compressed image file formats such
as J PEG or PNG. Despite its shortcomings, the simplicity of BMP and its widespread use in
Microsoft Windows and elsewhere, as well as the fact that this format is well-documented and
free of patents, makes it a very common format. As such, many image programs are likely
able to read in BMP files.
First, a spot color is a specially mixed ink that is applied on the printing press, as opposed to a
mix of the four inks which make up process printing. Spot colors can be produced in a much
more vibrant range of colors, and can have special characteristics which aren't available in
process inks, such as day-glow or metallic ink. Because they only use one screen, spot colors
can reduce the cost of printing if you limit your ink choices to black and one spot color. For
example, if you choose to print a red and black logo in process inks, you will actually need
three inks on three screens : Magenta, Yellow, and Black.
A second reference to spot color concerns the way it is printed in the design. A spot color
does not have any gradient or halftones, it only has spots of color in solid form. There is no
shading or blending of colors. It is simply one block of ink. Obviously most standard fonts
would be printed in spot color as well as a lot of basic logos and vector graphics.
12
GRADIENT IMAGES
FULL COLOR IMAGES
A gradient image refers to an image that has tones or shades in it. It is not a
spot color or one block of color, but rather, it has depth. Gradient imaging can
be accomplished with screen printing by using halftones to emulate the
gradient. In order to output halftones you need a half tone compatible printer,
also known as a post script printer. The easiest way to print half tones is to
combine a 3rd party RIP (Raster Image Processor) Software to an inkjet Epson
printer. The RIP converts the printer into a post script printer which can print
optimal positive films with halftones and opaque black ink.
For screen printing purposes there are 3 different types of full color images. Four color
process, simulated process, and index. Today, four color process and simulated process are
the most popular and what we will be covering in this book.
If you are working in any of the file types above, understand high resolution is key. Remember
garbage in, garbage out. Avoid low resolution images unless you covert them into vector
format (explanation later). An optimal resolution is 300dpi.
RESOLUTION - RESOLUTION!
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1
4 COLOR PROCESS (A BRIEF EXPLANATION)
Screening Inks To Create Lighter And Darker Shades
Process Separations
From L - R: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, and Composed
Different combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow and black can create millions of different
colors, but only a fraction of colors that the human eye can see. Take green, as an example: If
we add 25% magenta to it, it will become forest green. If we take out half the cyan, it will
become lime green. If we take out half the yellow, it will become turquoise. Even adding or
subtracting as little as 1 or 2 percent of one of the inks can change the color dramatically.
When colors are screened, as in the 50% screen of cyan in BROWN, above, the same ink is
used as 100% cyan. To make it appear lighter, it is reduced to a pattern of dots. Smaller dots
make the ink appear lighter, larger dots make it appear darker. Process screen printing is
typically done in a few different ways. Offset halftone angles and single line halftone angle
known as the Flamenco method. Do to the variables involved with the screen and shirt fabric,
we recommend using a single line halftone angle (61 degrees or 22.5 Degrees). Using the
flamenco method is much easier to accomplish and looks just as good on t-shirts!

All professional graphics applications will separate a color document at the click of a button.
For example, let's look at a photo of a model on a boat, both in its separated state, and as it
would be composed, or combined, on the press:
Each of the four colors you see below will be output to a separate positive, burned onto
separate screens, and inked on the press (wet on wet) so the colors can print on top of each
other. After the substrate has been impressed with each inked screen, the composed image
will appear, in full color. Four color process inks are transparent so they only work on light
garments. Since they have to mix wet on wet, it is difficult to achieve a quality four color
process print on a white underbase.
14
ONLY GRAPHIC PROGRAMS CAN SEPARATE COLORS
CORELDRAW AND THE ANATOMY OF A VECTOR
ILLUSTRATION
HIRE A DESIGNER?
OUTSOURCE MY DESIGN NEEDS?
BUY PROFESSIONAL GRAPHICS DESIGN SOFTWARE AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW
TO BE AN ARTIST?
Someone could continually create color documents in Microsoft Word but those documents
should never be printed on a printing press. Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, and
Microsoft PowerPoint are NOT professional graphics programs. They cannot separate colors
into their component CMYK colors. They don't even know what CMYK colors are, because
they are RGB applications. If you want a color document printed on a printing press and don't
have professional graphics software like Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop, then you must have
a Service Bureau or a professional graphic artist lay out your document.
Illustrations created in all major vector drawing programs have a definite anatomy and share a
common pattern. Whether you use CorelDraw or AdobeIllustrator, you will find that this
pattern exists even though each program may define the parts differently. This section takes
apart a vector drawing so you can see how it is put together and you are able to understand it.
The illustration section will better help you translate the terms from one application to another.
The pattern of vector illustrations is best viewed or represented as a hierarchy or "tree". The
illustration itself would be at the top and its various parts would descend below it:
1. An ILLUSTRATION is composed of vector objects
2. OBJ ECTS each have one or more paths
3. PATHS are composed of line segments
4. LINE SEGMENTS contain anchor points
5. ANCHOR POINTS at each existing end.

The biggest hurdle for most art departments is simplifying the process
without having to hire a Corel genius to do it. Artists tend to lose
creativity when saddled with the laborious tasks of breaking down a
vector along with being creative. Adobe Illustrator is even more labor intensive although over
the years artists have had to adapt and tend to like this program for graphics.
CorelDRAW has the same capabilities as Illustrator but in a more user friendly format. Yet it
still takes time to edit graphics, fit text to paths, group objects and effectively complete
multiple assorted tasks in a reasonable amount of time. Art, and screens for the most part are
break-even items in a screen print shop. I've never made profit on art or screens, but was
usually quite happy if they at least paid for themselves.
We don't think these are the best options for managing your graphics needs. We offer a better
way to control the design process.
As you may soon find, graphic design can be a source of tremendous business opportunity or
a source of frustration, bottlenecks, and a competitive disadvantage. The right graphic design
tools and training resources are the keys to your graphic design success.
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GRAPHIC DESIGN SOFTWARE:
CORELDRAW OR ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR?
This is likely one of the most common questions we receive regarding which graphics design
products are best. We argue that the two are so similar in features that it doesn't make a
difference. So we look at other factors such as pricing and availability of training. The victor?
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a 'suite' of two products:
CorelDRAW and CorelPhoto Paint. CorelDRAW is primarily a
tool for 'vector' design and editing. CorelPhoto Paint is for
'photo' or 'digital' designs and manipulation. That's right; the
'suite' contains two products in one for $489. In contrast,
Adobe Illustrator is $599 and Adobe Photoshop is $699
(Adobe Photoshop Extended is $999). Yes, that's right $1,299
for both Illustrator and Photoshop.
Beyond price, what are the other compelling reasons for
CorelDRAW? You will find that Corel is more widely used in
the 'imprinting' industry, whereas Adobe is more used in the
professional design industry. This means there are more
industry specific resources for Corel users and imprinters. For
example, www.freecoreldrawtraining.com is an excellent
source of FREE training tutorials on CorelDRAW Graphic Suite
and imprinting specific design processes.
Last, we think that Corel's user interface (UI) is much easier to
navigate. We love the 'hints docker' which provides an
explanation of each tool in addition to visual examples.
Additionally, there are training resources built right in.
16
CLIPART, STOCK PROFESSIONAL DESIGN TEMPLATES
Quick 'prototyping' and idea generation:
Give your clients options:
Production ready:
Proactive sales & marketing approach.
The second most important graphic design consideration is: Professional stock designs, or as
we call them Professional starting points. Can you draw a world-class design with pencil and
paper? Can you do the same virtually in design software? Most respond NO. Those that have
these skills will agree that manual designing results in downtime and lost productivityplus,
clients won't pay for custom graphic design. We strongly advocate using stock designs to
bypass these potential challenges. In doing so, you get to enjoy these benefits:
translate your client's vision into a professional
result. Using a 'template' based professional starting point you can quickly generate samples
and prototype designs. For example: Using one theme, you can present three variations of a
design: Colors, font styles, effects and clipart variations. Rule: Get the client excited about the
graphics and you are definitely more likely to get the job.
We offer free design services if you select from our professional
design theme or we offer custom design services at $50 per hour.
Stock art content offered by the Ryonet Corporation is 'production ready'.
Not all art content is created equally. We take tremendous care to ensure that the content we
offer is suitable for imprinting processes. This reduces the time and skills need to prepare
designs for output. Sure, you can get vector 'camera ready art work', anywhere. However,
these graphics generally have hundreds of colors, minuscule complexities (like phantom
objects), open paths, and too many nodes. You will spend more time fighting these designs to
make them usable than its worth. Art work is NOT the place to try to cut corners or save
money.
What's the best way to gain attention of your clients
and prospects? Personalized designs! We call these 'virtual samples'. What's more effective:
Dropping off a product catalog or dropping off personalized graphic samples on products?


Easily Create Themes, Variations, Ideas and Virtual Samples
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Sports and athletic art work is critical for most apparel
decorators. Ryonet has partnered with Rival Art to offer the
industries best professional sports and athletic graphics. Rival
Art offers not only sport clip art like mascots and sports related
design, but also professional design templates. These
templates are pre-designed starting points that can be quickly
and easily customized for your client, or prospects event. Its like Mr. Potato Head! We
choose to partner with Rival Art because their content is the best and most complete.
We offer two packages: Lite and Pro. These are memberships that allow you to download
the art work you need, when you need it. This is much better than purchasing libraries/books
of graphics--of which you might only use 15-20%. Not a good investment. We provide a
professional design portfolio complete with ALL designs available for download--this is a great
sales tool--a book of ideas to help your clients pick a theme/design. We also include tutorials
to teach you how to easily customize designs, add effects, prepare graphic proposals and
prepare designs for output.
18
Rival Art Templates
Log-in to Browse and Download
the Graphics, when you need them!
THE INKSOFT BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY
This all started with three simple questions:
What we discovered:
Strategy to Reality
1. Why arent imprinters more successful selling online?
2. What are the biggest opportunities for imprinters to grow their business?
3. What are the greatest challenges/problems that imprinters face?
Q: Why arent imprinters more successful selling online?
A: The right eCommerce tools had not been developed yet. Nor, was there an industry specific
eCommerce solution to solve ALL of the problems imprinters face. Good isnt the best way to
grow, run and manage your businessyou need great.
Q: What are the biggest opportunities for imprinters to grow their business?
A: Simpleselling online. eCommerce sales have increased year after year since the advent of
the internet. eCommerce forecasts show continued growth. Of course, we also found that all
growth opportunities require great marketing tools.
Q: What are the greatest challenges/problems that imprinters face?
A: All imprinters have the same basic challenges and bottlenecks: Graphic design and Sales &
Marketing, the two most important components to any imprinting business. These are the true
keys to either failing or succeeding.
Every business bookevery business guru..they all say the same thing: To grow your business
you must develop new clients, cut costs and find better ways to do things than your competition.
This of course, is true. Great business strategy however is worthless unless you have the right
tools required to make strategy become reality.
InkSoft is the easiest, most complete web-based eCommerce solution which allows our clients
to sell online in a revolutionary way. Of course, InkSoft didnt stop there. InkSoft makes graphics
design and sales & marketing simple.
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InkSoft includes a virtual store front. This is your opportunity to have a professional, easy-to-
use company website. More importantly, you can use your web site to allow prospects and
clients to search products, design templates and clipart and then construct their very own
design.
Your InkSoft store front is easy to set-up. You can customize the look of your site including
logo, colors, advertisements and banners. Already have a web site? Integrating InkSoft into a
web site is easy!
Easy to Customize, Professional Web Sites
20
The greatest challenge to any imprinter is graphic design. It is a bottleneck and a continuous
source of frustration. Yet graphic design is a tremendous source of opportunity. If you have
better art work than your competition you will win new clients! Let art work be your competitive
super secret weapon.
Your InkSoft solution is loaded with graphics in all styles and categories. Sell to any event or
organization with the right graphics.
Professional Design Starting Points, and Clip Art Designs
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Easy to Customize, Professional Web Sites
InkSofts Design Studio is where the magic happens. Your clients or prospects can easily edit a
professional design template in the system, construct a design using supplied clip art, or a
custom theme can be created by uploading content such as a picture or corporate logo.
22
Sales & Marketing Tools
Lets face it: Sales & Marketing is hard business. Its hard for large and small business alike.
Sales & Marketing is the key to growing a profitable business. InkSoft provides some really
amazing marketing tools including: Search engine optimization (SEO), Social Network Sharing,
and the ability to create custom web stores for your clients and prospects.
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Manage, Run and Grow Your Online Business
InkSoft has an easy-to-use backend. Control everything about your InkSoft here. You can also
manage inventory, products, orders, web stores, advertising and marketing. Its one central hub
to run your business.
24
PHOTOSHOP VS. SEPARATION PROGRAMS
WHAT IS A SPOT PROCESS SEPARATION JOB?
DYNAMIC UNDER-BASE
3 BLACK OPTIONS
TOP WHITE
COLOR MERGING
COLOR ENHANCEMENT
APPLY FEATURE
SAVE AND LOAD COLOR CORRECTIONS
COLOR PREVIEW
Spot Process Separation Studio is the industries finest, most accurate and easiest to use
color separation and adjustment software. First developed for in-house use to speed up the
process of color separating high-end, tonal images. Spot Process was later released in 1996
as a Photoshop Plug-in dramatically speeding up the color separation process and improving
the quality of halftone printing for users around the world. Artists, production managers and
owners agree that Spot Process is one of the most valuable tools in a screen print facility.
Currently shipping is our most powerful industry specific software to date - Spot
Process Professional Suite. Spot Process is now a stand alone application
offering more screen print specific features. Profit from a FREE, 30-day, fully
functional trial that is available for download right now.
Since Spot Process Professional can separate any .tif image your options are
seemingly endless.
Use Spot Process Professional to separate and adjust tonal images quickly and
easily. Take a look at the samples of tonal images (next page) representative of a Spot
Process job. Users that may be new to the industry or are expanding their shop's abilities will
quickly learn when Spot Process is the program to choose and when to separate files from
illustration programs alone.
An under-base, the foundation of all screen printing on color garments, based on the color
dynamics of the original image allowing for smooth color transitions and fades.
3 levels of black giving users options with this critical element in color reproduction. These
black options are NOT taken from limited cmyk conversions (an antiquated method) but in fact
are built directly from the original RGB color data.
An over-print white, critical in creating secondary and tertiary colors
"click of the mouse" color-merging features allowing you to further reduce the already low
number of channels when desired.
Orange and brown enhancement features for harder to reach spectral values.
An "APPLY" feature that allows the user to move and combine separation data across
channels to enhance a color channel (separation) or to create a special effect.
The ability to save your color corrections and load them again later or into another file.
A color preview built on screen print ink values.
Separation programs like Spot Process will take any prepared image and separate it into 4 to
17 colors, base output on your capabilities. Fast, efficient and powerful this program will have
you printing, Rock Star quality prints on any color shirt imaginable. Simply output, burn, set-up
then ROCK & ROLL!!
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PHOTOSHOP VS. SEPARATION PROGRAMS
Samples Of Tonal Images

26
CHAPTER 2
FILMS AND OUTPUT
Why an ink jet printer?
Inkjet RIP, Plotters, Density Requirements
And Mesh Selections
What is the goal of your positive film?
To portray the positive image perfectly to you and to block out
100% of the UV light during exposure for optimal exposing and washout results!
Question:
Answer:
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WHAT KIND OF PRINTER SHOULD I USE?
Gradient images
Inkjet printer technology has evolved tremendously in the past 10 years. The quality, clarity
and density of the film that an inkjet printer outputs is by far better than even the highest end
laser printers.
Laser printers use thermal heat to create the film, this causes problems with shrinking and
density. Even with higher end laser printers the density can be an issue. Because the
positive film is supposed to block out as much of the exposure light as possible, it is VERY
important for it to be opaque and for the black image to be dense.
An inkjet printer sprays ink onto an inkjet receptive film. Since it sprays the ink, shrinking is not
an issue. As it sprays ink, you can tell it to spray more for a denser image. The optimal type of
ink to use for inkjet printers is a dye-base ink because dye base is more opaque than pigment
base. Unfortunately, most printers come with a pigment based ink.
There are after market cartridges with dye ink in them made specifically for the printers that
work best for film output. Epson makes the best printers for film output. Why? Because
Epson printers are meant for printing photographs, they can really lay down the ink. They can
also accept after market black DYE ink cartridges which will make a darker film positive.
Most printers print in a gradient line format, meaning that when you see a
gradient image like the example below, it slowly fades out to gray. There is no way a gradient
line can expose to a screen because there is no contrast in the line, the image will simply stop
exposing when the gradient is not black enough to block the exposure light. In order to
screen print gradients you need to convert the gradient into an image the screen can read.
The most common method for printing gradients is called post script or halftones.
Halftones are dots that range from 100% to 1%, the blacker the image area, the larger the dot,
the lighter the image area the smaller the dot. See below.
Most inkjet and laser printers cannot print halftone dots. In order to print post script you need
a post script compatible printer which unfortunately is very expensive and hard to come by.
Fortunately there IS an affordable solution!

.

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ACCURIP
TYPES OF FILM
Water Proof
Standard Inkjet
Laser Film
DENSITY REQUIREMENTS
AccuRip is a PostScript interpreter which is called a Raster Image Processor or RIP. Without
PostScript it is impossible to print high-quality halftone dots on a "non-PostScript" inkjet printer
such as an Epson 1400 and 4880. Even if your printer has PostScript, it may not be able to
print halftone dots because PostScript is often just used to calibrate and balance colors on an
inkjet. The Epson "RIP" does not print halftone dots! AccuRIP does! AccuRIP only works
with the Epson line of printers.
An Epson Inkjet does NOT contain Adobe PostScript Chips and therefore
can't read/translate a graphics application that contains PostScript data. For
example: tools and effects (such as blends and tints) that print as halftones. A
RIPs job is to do the translation so you have full use of the PostScript
features of your graphics application and can accurately output films from the
inkjet.
Accurip in conjunction with Blackmax inks not only allow you to print halftones but maximize
the use of your printer for printing film output. When making films you only use BLACK ink;
color carts are a waste of money. AccuRIP is the only software developed to use ALL slots.
Blackmax users simply turn on the multi-black option in the AccuRIP Setup and load the
Blackmax carts in their designated slots to dedicate the inkjet to producing films.
This is your best option for inkjet printing, a water proof film has a special coating on it that
retains the ink and allows the film to hold more ink then a standard film. More ink =darker
image, this coating also sucks the ink into the center of the film and holds it there so it stays
darker longer, doesn't scratch as easy, and resists water spills.
Older styles of Epson printers can take standard inkjet film. Some printers try to use this film
because it is cheaper, however unless you have a specific style of printer that the film works
good with, it will be hard to get a good looking dense positive with standard film on any of the
newer printers.
Specifically for laser printers, this is a thicker film with a haze. Its built to resist heat and
minimize shrinking.
Simply put? Positive (Transparency) density achieves a crisp, clean screen image, also
negates problems with washing out the image from an exposed screen.
Most inkjet film has a specially developed coating that is designed to work
with the standard Epson inks or for much higher density and clarity using
Blackmax high density black ink. The ink dries in seconds and gives
superior performance for screen printing and plate burning applications for
pad printers.
Ryonet leading film ! supplier in the industry
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With a positive that is not opaque enough you're not blocking 100% of the light. Instead youre
cutting down the amount of light by 50, 30%, etc. This in turn will LOOK like your image has
been burned onto the emulsion when in fact it will not wash. You are over exposed at this
point. If you use a pressure washer to remove the half exposed emulsion you weaken the
ability of your design to withstand a good production run, or it may not wash out at all.
You will sacrifice clarity, longevity and stencil strength, not to mention the excessive pinholes
and premature stencil breakdown. Reclamation problems will also be a factor as you will likely
lock in the emulsion from improper processing.
A plotter is a vector graphics plotting device that connects to a computer. Plotters draw or cut
their output by moving a pen/knife across the surface of a piece of paper or film. This means
that plotters are restricted to line art, rather than raster graphics as with other printers. They
can draw complex line art, including text, but do so very slowly because of the mechanical
movement of the pen/knife. (Plotters are incapable of creating a solid region of color by pen)
When computer memory was very expensive, and processor power was very slow, this was
often the fastest way to produce color high-resolution vector-based artwork, or very large
drawings efficiently. Plotters coupled with a hand-cut water soluble
film that is weeded out in a negative form works great as a stencil.
Simply cut, weed and water apply the film to the screen mesh.
PLOTTERS
GOOD
FILM
BAD
FILM
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CHAPTER 3
SCREEN ROOM &
SCREEN PREPARATION
Setting up a Screen room,
Theory, Conditions, Ventilation,
Lighting and Diagram, Screen Prep
New, Premature Breakdown
And Pinholes
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SCREEN ROOM
A clean working environment
SCREEN STORAGE
Previously the theory was to have a darkroom that was light safe, painted black with red light
and dust free, used for photography and storing screens in them followed suit. Today the
same requirements hold true with a few minor changes. The light in the room can now be
yellow, using either a yellow bug light or fluorescent tubes with yellow sleeves. Screens aren't
as sensitive to light as photographic films and the yellow
light safe bulb allows better visual inspection of your
coating and workspace.
Concerning the color of the walls - Black was used to keep
any light from reflecting and exposing film; a good idea but very
hard to work in with a red safe light. Paint the walls in a semi-gloss latex using a pink or rose
color, allowing for greater visibility. Pink walls will reflect a pink light versus a white light and is
completely safe for screens. Your darkroom should still remain tightly sealed from outside light
and dust.
Ventilation is VERY important, as a sealed room with wet screens will never dry, placing a fan
in the room will circulate air but it's still wet air and will kick up dust onto your screens. The
most effective system is a dehumidifier to pull any moisture from the air and dry the screens
completely and quickly, however do not place the unit IN the darkroom because the water will
be gathered in the room. Measure the face of the unit and cut a hole in the wall to mount the
dehumidifier into the opening, you will then seal the edges to prevent light and dust from
coming in and keeping moisture out.
Now youre pulling the moist air out, your water is collected outside the darkroom and not
being re-circulated, your screens will dry more quickly and completely. All this effort leads to
longer print runs without breaking down, better edge definition and you have the beginnings of
the perfect screen room. By all means keep the screen drying and the exposure/washout
rooms separate and safe lit.
The optimal humidity level of a darkroom should be under 40% humidity and ideally 30-35%!
The drier your room is, the quicker your screens will dry and the faster you can produce/ print.
Cleanliness in the screen room is likely to be the most neglected aspect of production. Even if
cleanliness isn't neglected, it's still very difficult to maintain the dust-free, lint-free environment
you need, especially when the screen room is often so close to the production area.
You want to produce screens and get them quickly into production, so on one hand, having
your screen making area set up conveniently near to the pressroom makes sense. On the
other hand, vast amounts of dust and lint invariably end up on your screens. It's impractical to
move the department far enough away to escape all the lint and dust, so you must take steps
to keep contaminants from getting into the screen making department.
Great care should be given to screen storage. You have made an investment in purchasing
screens. Storing screens on the floor can result in undesirable effects before and after
coating. Dust and airborne contaminants will find a way onto the screens when stored near
the ground level! Raising them off the ground will prevent several issues.
32
Screen Frame Racks
Degreasing steps
1. Provides a safe area as both storage and dry rack directly after coating.
2. Provides further protection against ripping the mesh.
3. Easy access, screens can be labeled and ready to go.
4. Most racks have wheels for greater mobility.
Additional storage may be needed for those who chose to library screens for
return customers or repeat jobs. It is recommended that the racks be built
into a wall at eye level, screens may labeled for quick reference. Overage
screens can be stored as well. Live or coated screens must be protected
from regular white light. Ready to use or coated screens should be put into
production as soon as possible, storing live screens for long periods of time is
not recommended and there is no guarantee that they will be useable when
needed.

PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT!
There are also drying cabinets that are enclosed with fans and vents in
them to suck out the water. The optimal screen drying cabinet has a
dehumidifier built into it and can dry a screen in a matter of minutes.
Degreasing the screen is the most understated procedure involved in screen preparation.
Proper degreasing and rinsing of the screen is critical because it influences how well the
stencil material will adhere to the mesh. With complete adhesion, you'll achieve better image
resolution, accuracy and greater stencil durability during production.
After application of a degreasing agent, both sides of the screen require degreaser and a
thorough rinsing prior to stencil application. Rinsing is particularly important because any
residual degreasing agent will also deter from the emulsion's ability to adhere to the mesh. Be
sure to rinse your screen and ensure that the water and degreaser being rinsed off does not
splash back into the frame which will contaminate it again. Also ensure that you rinse the
frame itself, not just the mesh.
Printers experience problems from improper degreasing because it is an easy process to
"skimp" on. Because the process is relatively unexciting and repetitive, screen room
personnel can easily miss areas of the screen or frame during rinsing.

Frame rinsing is also important because any residual chemicals left on the frames will mix
with the emulsion on the screen and cause the stencil to break down during production. Once
you have to stop the presses to correct such screen defects, the time, effort, and expense you
invested to prepare the screen are lost, as is the profitability of an uninterrupted production
run.
1. Wet both sides of the screen.
2. Spray a small amount of degreasing solution on the backside of the screen (shirt side)
3. Scrub from left to right with scrub brush until a slight lather is formed.
5. Turn screen and repeat steps 2 and 3.
DEGREASING
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6. Rinse from the top of the frame sweeping side to side in a downward fashion until the entire
screen is free of degreaser.
7. Place on screen frame rack on the top position with the inside of the frame facing
downward, this will allow the excess water to drain off and prevent pooling.
8. Turn fans on and allow to dry (dry times will vary from region to region) Make sure to dry
screens in a CLEAN area!
Those of you who have only one drying rack and are drying coated screens while prepping
degreased ones need to move coated screens to the top of the rack and stack the wet
degreased screens underneath the coated screens to ensure water does not drip onto the
coated screens.
Tip
TYPES OF EMULSIONS
Emulsion for Plastisol
Emulsion for signs and solvent inks
Emulsion for water based inks
Dual Cure Diazo emulsions need to be mixed before use. The diazo is the light sensitive
agent mixed into the emulsion to activate it. Once mixed, these emulsions have a shelf life of
2-3 months.
Pre-sensitized emulsions are ready to go right out of the gate. Typically these emulsions will
expose much faster than the dual diazo emulsions, they also have a longer shelf life. The
drawback to a fast exposure is the exposure latitude, this is the level of forgiveness that the
printer has for over/under exposure. Pre-sensitized emulsions have a very short window or
latitude to expose within. We recommend using dual cure emulsions which expose longer but
have a much wider exposure latitude and level of forgiveness.
When doing signs you will need an emulsion that will stand up the harsh solvents and
cleaners used in the process! They are offered as dual diazo and pre-
sensitized formats however they are much tougher and can withstand
the washout with chemicals or water which may otherwise cause the
screen to breakdown prematurely.
CCI Dxp Diazo-photopolymer Dual Cure Direct Emulsion
Ulano Qtx Pre-sensatized Emulsion
Ryonet Pre Sensatized Emulsion
CCI Dcm Dual Cue Graphic Emulsions
CCI Swr Water Resist Dual Cure Emulsion
34
SCREEN-COATING AND DRYING
THE SCREEN EMULSION COATER
SCREEN PREPARATION
(NEW AND RECLAIMED SCREENS)
WORKING WITH PHOTOGRAPHIC EMULSION
As with so many other aspects of textile screen-printing, there are no rules
or standards that spell out the right way to coat and process a screen. Many
textile printers use the 2-1 coating method, which means they coat the print
side of the screen twice, and then finish with a third coat on the squeegee
side of the screen.
There are also easy to use coating stands available which help the screen
stay in place against the wall so you can use TWO hands during coating for
the most even coat and consistent results.
After the initial coating dry the screen with the print side down. This process may vary
somewhat from shop to shop, but the actual coating method is really not the key issue. More
important is that each of your screens be coated the same way to deliver consistent and
predictable results. In many shops, coating technique varies with every individual in the
screen making department.
The care you take in preparing and maintaining screens not only impact the quality of your
prints, it also influences the productivity of your operation. So, make sure screens meet your
performance and quality requirements, standardize your screen making, cleaning, and
reclaiming procedures.
The screen printing scoop coater is an aluminum tool used to coat the screen. It holds the
emulsion and has a critical sharp edge which applies it to the screen mesh evenly. The best
type of scoop coater to have is a DUAL EDGE scoop coater like shown below. The dual edge
scoop coater has both a thin edge for standard emulsion application and a round edge for
thicker coats of emulsion and thus thicker ink
applications.
Applying Photographic Emulsion to your Screen
1. Make sure screen is degreased and dry.
2. Prepare screen room for coating, clean area.
3. Lay newspaper on floor or table, have tools and damp paper towels ready.
4. Under safe light conditions (yellow or red), open emulsion container.
5. Remove rubber blade guard or dust cover from the scoop coater.
6. Pour emulsion into the scoop coater, wipe edge of container if any drips occurred.
7. Use the scoop to coat emulsion onto both sides of screen.
8. Use a plastic scraper to clean up edges where emulsion may be thick.
9. Place screen in cabinet to dry. Turn on fan.
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EXPOSING A SCREEN
Preparing Work Area
Line up artwork Pre registration
Clean glass on exposure unit with window cleaner (a razor blade may be required to remove
dried photo emulsion).
Pre-registering your design is important for multiple color designs and even single color
designs. If your designs are not properly exposed onto the screen, they will be very hard to
register or line up when you get onto the press. A simple but not very efficient way to pre
register your artwork to your screen is to measure the placement of the screen and the
artwork against the edge of your frame, ensure that it is centered in the frame and typically
about 8-10 down from the top of a manual frame / or in the appropriate spot for exposure for
multiple colors.
Measuring takes time and is not very accurate because your parameters are never equal and
sometimes the films move during the taping process. We recommend using a pre registration
template in order to easily and quickly
align your films.
Pre-registration Template Instructions:
1. When generating artwork make sure you have
center marks on your film positive. Place artwork
on board in relation to where you want the print
on the shirt.
2. Align registration marks to center line on the
graph. Tape positive down then place coated
screen onto O.D. markings.
3. Mark screen on the inside with a fine point
marker to match targets on the positive. Write the
color in the upper left hand corner to keep
screens separate and avoid double exposures.
4. After marking the screen(s) tape the positives
to each color marked and expose to
manufacturers recommendation.
We also have a video online on how to burn
a job using this pre registration template
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EXPOSING A SCREEN
Positive Contact
Vacuum Frame and or Positive pressure.
Table maintenance
EXPOSURE UNITS
Positive pressure or contact between your screen and film is extremely important in creating a
crisp image on your screen. If your positive film and positive image are not pressed extremely
tight against your screen, then light will work its way around the edge of your image and
expose a soft line instead of a crisp line. Without positive pressure, you can throw the idea of
a high quality screen out the window! Positive pressure can be achieved one of two ways.
The easiest and most convenient is a vacuum exposure unit. The vacuum blanket sucks the
screen down to the glass with about 60-70 lbs of pressure and sandwiches the film between
the glass and the screen creating a very good positive pressure.
You can also create positive pressure more affordable by using a dense 2 foam and placing
weight on top of the foam or compressing the foam with a compression lid. As you put
pressure via weight or compression on the foam, the foam distributes this weight and presses
the screen mesh into the glass which sandwiches the film in between creating a positive
pressure. You want to use between 50-60 lbs of pressure or weight using this method. If you
use less, you will not put enough pressure on the screen in order to create a good positive
contact.
- Open latch, raise top (vacuum and compression lids)
- Position transparency on glass, right reading - optimally taped to screen
- Place screen over transparency, film emulsion to screen emulsion
- Lower top, close latch or place foam and weights (open top units)
Dust and scratches on the vacuum-frame and open glass units can easily appear as defects in your stencil. One
of the easiest ways to avoid this type of problem is to keep the glass clean and exercise care when placing items
on the glass. Clean the glass on one side first thing in the morning and then throughout the day as needed, clean
both sides at least once a week. Use a soft cloth and a good quality glass-cleaning product.
The second precaution is to use care whenever you lay a screen onto the glass. Metal screen frames can easily
scratch the glass, especially if you slide them around while positioning them for exposure. Once a scratch is
introduced to the surface of the glass, it will be reproduced on any stencil that is laid over that particular area of
the glass.
These units range from the sun (barbaric but it works), Metal Halide to HUV (black light)
systems. Ryonets low cost UV units that can expose 55 line half tones on 305 meshes when
using a dual-cure emulsion for about 4 minutes. There are
vacuum tables and units with compression lids as
well as open faced units utilizing a weight to
maintain screen to art contact (VERY critical
for sharp images).
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EXPOSURE METER/ LIGHT SOURCE
After Exposure
Washout
EXPOSURE:
UNDER EXPOSURE:

Light integrators compensate for the aging of your exposure lamps and power fluctuations
during their operation. While these are optimal for use on an exposure unit they are typically
only on the higher end units. They ensure that your stencil receives the dose of light you
intended it to get. Shops that do not have light integrators sometimes run regular exposure
tests to determine how long to expose their screens. Not doing this leads to all sorts of
problems in production, from pinholes and stencil breakdown to difficulties in reclaiming the
screen. Ryonet has simple exposure calculators available that help you pin point your
exposure time.
Turn off vacuum
Open value (to release pressure of suction)
Open latch, slowing raise top
Transport screen to Washout station (avoid light)
Immediately spray both sides with cold/luke warm water until completely wet. Soak for 30
seconds until complete.
Using a garden spray nozzle, rinse the design completely out, change settings for stronger
washout, then give a final rinse.
Lay out old newsprint and lay screen down. Then using one sheet, blot the inside but DO
NOT RUB.
Block out pinholes and edges, leave registration marks open
Dry with fan or hotbox.
As discussed before proper exposure is paramount in a screens life and quality.
If you get slime on the squeegee side of the screen your exposure time is too low, as the light
isn't reaching all the way through the mesh. Increase your time in increments of 30 seconds
until that scumming disappears. Underexposing will lead to reclaiming issues, it's near
impossible to get a screen reclaimed if it's been underexposed.
If your screen is under exposed several things may happen. You may
notice a fair amount of slime or residue on the inside of your screen during washout, this
residue will drip back into your screen and possibly block your open image. The other sign of
under exposure is your image blowing out as you try to washout your screen. If an emulsion is
not exposed to light long enough, it will not correctly harden and will not hold up under water.
An under exposed screen can be hard to washout, hard to print with, and hard to reclaim
(reclaiming problems come from the soft/under exposed emulsion receiving ink and chemicals
during the printing process and locking the emulsion into the screen).
A DARK FILM POSITIVE: This is probably the most important, with a good film positive you
can expose your screen longer and the light will not affect the image area.
CORRECT POSITIVE CONTACT: This accompanies the dark film positive hand in hand, you
have to ensure that you have a good positive contact.
DRY EMULSION: Your emulsion must be dried onto the screen before you expose it. If your
emulsion is not dry, it will not properly expose. The emulsion on your screen should feel
smooth like plastic, not sticky or wet. Having a well ventilated and dry darkroom will help
tremendously to dry screens.
Simple tips to avoid under exposure.
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FRESH EXPOSURE BULBS: Keep in mind, all exposure unit bulbs have a shelf life. If your
exposure unit bulbs are old, they will not expose a screen in the same amount of time as a
new bulb. If you notice that your screens are starting to under expose, increase your exposure
time by 10-15%. If you continually have to increase your exposure times, its probably time to
replace your exposure bulbs.
EXPOSURE CALCULATOR (Pictured below): An exposure calculator is a simple way to
gauge your exposure. This simple step wedge calculator helps you dial in your exposure
times and gives you recommendations on increasing or decreasing
your exposure for optimal results. This is an inexpensive tool
important to ANY darkroom and is available from our website.
WASHOUT:
BLOCKOUT:
POST HARDENING:



Here is something most printers don't think about, you
need to realize the washout is a gentle process as the emulsion is in
its most tender state. No pressure washer or forceful water pressure
is needed UNLESS you over exposed as I'll explain in a moment.
You'll liberally wet both sides of the screen using a garden hose with
an adjustable nozzle. One that has several settings works well, (ex; shower, jet, fan, etc) after
getting it wet completely, let it soak for 30 seconds.
Using a soft soaking spray you'll rinse both sides again then start your
final wash from the SHIRT side, as this is the side that received the
most light and is stronger. If needed use the flat setting on the nozzle
and wash side to side until everything is cleared out, then use the
shower setting to give a final rinse all over. Now if you do need to use
more pressure, use a wide fan spray and yes, a pressure washer is
acceptable. But again set the nozzle at a fan setting and use only at a
distance (1-2 feet) on the shirt (flat) side of the screen.
After you're happy with the results you can layout some old newspapers and lay your screen
flat on top of the newsprint. Lay one sheet on the inside and SMOOTH it out over the inside
quickly and semi firmly but DO NOT RUB. This will ensure you remove the water from the
image and will allow you to go to your next step quicker.
There are several methods for blocking out and what has been found as a fast,
reliable and tested way of doing this for production. After you've papered the screen from
excess water, ball up a sheet of newsprint and wipe the shirt side gently (yes you can,
remember this is the stronger side). Taking the bucket of emulsion and with a plastic
applicator (2 putty plastic knife) coat ALL around the design, covering next to the frame and
as close to the design without getting anything into it. If you accidentally do that just take a
damp rag and wipe it out till clear.
After coating everything possible put the screen on a light table where you can use white
Plexiglas to diffuse the light and make it easier to touch up inside the design. For this you can
use a small artists brush and a little emulsion diluted 50% with water for ease of application.
Touch up the pinholes in the design carefully and when finished place in the rack with a fan to
dry completely.
Most printers overlook this important step and end up with premature
breakdown. When you initially expose your screen you're just trying to get the image on there
without over or under exposing. The emulsion is basically soft and pliable until this last step
(which is known as post hardening) and this is done to finish exposing ANY emulsion and
solidifying the screen for production. You wait for the screen to dry for a couple of reasons; as
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the emulsion dries it shrinks, the moisture is removed and the emulsion increases in density. If
you try to post harden while the screen is wet they actually work against each other, the
screen is hardening and solidifying while the moisture is still there, this will lead to pinholes as
well. Using emulsion to block out will initially allow for a stronger bond to the screen since it's
the same material and it can be hardened with the rest of the screen. Usually 10 minutes in
your exposure unit will do (or 5 minutes in the noonday sun is better), and then you have a
screen as good as the professionals make. If you happen to get a small pinhole during
production use a commercial block out as they are designed to dry quicker for on press.
Removing Emulsion from Screen (after printing and cleaning ink)
Reclaim or inventory?
Removing the stencil
Using a pressure washer
This is called reclaiming a screen
- Place screen in pressure washer unit.
- Using hose on low pressure, wet screen with water.
- With spray bottle, spray on reclaimer solution on both sides of screen.
- Scrub one minute on both sides; wash with pressure washer using high pressure.
(Do not let reclaimer dry in screen. This will permanently harden the emulsion).
- Squeegee off excess water.
- Air dry or sun dry screen
Unless you are going to be reprinting this particular job in the very near future, it makes sense
to reclaim the screen as soon as your print run is finished. If you keep the positive on file, you
can simply shoot a new screen whenever the job comes up. Another argument in favor of de-
coating a screen promptly is that the longer a stencil remains in the screen the more difficult it
can be to remove. On the other hand, when you reprint a job on a regular basis, it can save
time and money if you simply inventory the screen. In that case, your ink clean-up has to be
especially careful.
If you're going to inventory your screen make sure that you clean then degrease your screen.
After it dries block out any pinholes, dry again and number the screen with a corresponding
number and customer name listed alphabetically in a Rolodex. This takes some time but when
a customer re-orders you'll spend less time setting up and producing the order.
Stencil removers come in the form of liquids, gels, or powders. The powdered types
have to be mixed with water before use, and so can be considered to belong to the
liquid category. Liquid stencil removers a.k.a. emulsion remover are often the easiest to
use and most cost effective.
One solution is to use a pump spray or a squeeze bottle to apply the stencil remover a
little at a time. A long-handled brush also comes in handy for catching the stencil
remover as it runs down the screen and working it into the emulsion. Be sure to follow
the instructions for using your stencil remover. A botched reclaiming attempt can result
in a stencil that's permanently locked into the mesh.
Virtually no stencil remover will give good results without a pressure washer to blast away the
loosened emulsion. The screen should be positioned in the wash tank with the top edge
leaned against the back wall at an angle that provides solid support. It has to be able to stand
up to the blast of the pressure washer without being knocked over.
WARNING
Reclaimers and dehazers are forms of high concentrated bleach.
Avoid contact with skin apply with brush rather then spray bottle.
Working with reclaimer and haze removers:
40
Be sure the print side of the screen is facing you. A high-pressure spray directed at the
squeegee side of the screen can hit the inside edges of the frame and ricochet right back at
you. The point where the mesh meets the inside edge of the frame is also one of the most
vulnerable points on your screen, really the last place that ought to be hit with a high-pressure
jet of water.
On most pressure washers both the power and the width of the spray can be adjusted. You
don't want to concentrate a lot of power in a small area so a fairly broad spray works best.
Sometimes it's hard to remember how the spray was adjusted the last time the pressure
washer was used, so get into the habit of aiming the wand away from the screen when you
pull the trigger. A very narrow spray delivered at full power can blast right through fine
meshes.
Once all traces of the stencil have been removed, the screen still needs to be degreased
before it can be dried and recoated with new emulsion. Degreasing removes oil or
contaminants that may have come into contact with the mesh during the reclaiming process.
Even a handprint can deposit enough oil to interfere with the new stencil's ability to adhere to
the screen, so be careful not to touch the screen after you degrease it.
Most screens are ready for recoating at this stage, but sometimes screens will have to
undergo a further step in the reclaiming process called dehazing. This additional
step removes haze or ghost images left behind in the screen once the stencil has
been removed. These hangers-on tend to faintly outline the open areas of previous
stencils, hence the name ghosts. They are the result of ink residue trapped in the
mesh, often in the knuckles of the mesh, those points where threads overlap.
Dehazing is not something you do automatically every time a screen is reclaimed. In
fact, it probably isn't necessary unless the ghosts have become so prominent they
are likely to interfere with exposing a new stencil. The best way to avoid having to
dehaze your screens is to prevent ghosts from forming in the first place. Since
ghosts are formed by ink, doing a good job of ink clean-up can help keep them away.
But even that may not be enough to prevent your screens from becoming haunted if
you are printing with certain types of ink, especially those containing dark pigments.
After dehazing a screen, it's usually not necessary to degrease it. Most dehazers do
an excellent job of removing oils from the mesh. J ust be sure to rinse the screen well
afterwards. You don't want any traces of dehazer left behind.
Most reclaiming problems can be avoided by following a few simple rules:
Environmental regulations differ widely from region to region, and violations can carry stiff
penalties. Know and obey the rules in your area. Making sure your shop complies when you
first set it up can be a lot cheaper than trying to retrofit it later.
Don't try to cut corners. Trying to reclaim screens with chemicals never intended for the
purpose can ruin mesh and cost you time and money and don't try to skimp on essential
equipment like a good pressure washer.
The importance of dehazing!
RECLAIMING PROBLEMS
Make sure you are in compliance with all environmental regulations.
Buy the best materials and equipment you can afford.
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Follow instructions.
Under Exposure & Chemical Lock
Trouble-shooting tips
FRAMES
.
Not even the best reclaiming chemicals and equipment can do a good job when used
improperly. This seems so obvious that it hardly seems necessary to point it out. Still, every
year many screens are ruined by simple failure to do the obvious.
It is never a good idea to print with under exposed
screens, when a screen is under exposed it is left soft. If a soft screen is exposed to ink and
chemical it could chemically lock which will make the reclaiming process extremely difficult!
Another thing that could chemically lock a screen is if you were to leave the emulsion remover
on it and not wash it out long enough, this will lock the screen because the emulsion remover
dries into the emulsion. It is always best to have properly exposed screens in order for them to
last the longest on the press and reclaim the best.
There are a lot of additional tips, tricks, and videos for free on www.ryonetblog.com
The longer a stencil remains in a screen the harder the emulsion is likely to become. Get in
the habit of reclaiming your screens as soon as you are finished with them. Emulsions can
also become excessively hardened through contact with certain strong solvents. If your
exposures are bang on and you're still running into reclaiming problems, try switching to a
different wash-up or screen-opener.
Many reclaiming problems result from mistakes made earlier, during the stencil-making
process. Chief among these is underexposing the emulsion. Underexposed emulsion can be
virtually locked to the threads of the mesh and may resist all efforts to reclaim it. The solution
is to buy and learn how to use an exposure calculator.
Sometimes stubborn bits of stencil hang on despite your best efforts. Try reapplying the
stencil remover or dehazer to that spot. Wait a few minutes and spray with your pressure
washer. Adjust the nozzle to deliver a more finely focused spray. Remember that as the water
jet becomes narrower its power increases. Don't let it stay aimed at one small area. Keep it
moving.
With these tips in mind, reclaiming your screens should take less time and your screens
should last longer, two factors that can make a big impact on your bottom line.
Making good screens is not rocket science. It isn't difficult or outrageously expensive, though
sometimes, a screen maker's shortcuts can make it very time consuming and costly. I can
almost guarantee that focusing attention on these areas will result in more consistent and
predictable results, better image quality, and longer lasting screens. Those improvements add
up to cost savings as well.
When choosing a screen printing frame there are a few things to consider. Construction, mesh
type and color, tension of the mesh, and durability. There are two types of screens, static and
roller.
A static screen means that the mesh is stretched to a frame and does not move once it is
stretched. A screen is actually stretched by a pneumatic ram that pulls the mesh extremely
tight across the frame, once it is stretch it is glued down and locked chemically to the frame.
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The other type of screen is a roller frame. A roller frame moves and creates its own tension
by tightening the mesh as the roller moves away from the mesh. The mesh is locked into the
roller frame using locking strips. In our classes and with our beginning screen printing
packages we typically discuss static frames. Static frames cost a lot less and they are very
easy to use. Roller frames give you a high tension screen and give you the ability to restretch
the screen manually. However they are more expensive and you have to learn how to properly
stretch them. They both have their place!
Wood screens are naturally made, since wood is less then aluminum
they also cost less. However, during the screen printing process there is a lot of moisture and
different products involved. Degreasing with water, printing with wet ink, cleaning the screen
with chemical, reclaiming and dehazing. When wood gets wet, it warps. The advantage of an
aluminum frame is that it does not warp, it will remain stronger longer and is worth the extra
cost!
: The advantage of an aluminum screen printing frame is the
durability and longevity it retains. Unlike wood silk screen printing frames, when exposing
frames to water in a dip tank or washout sink aluminum frames will not warp. This will ensure
a flat frame through thousands of prints to come. Aluminum frames can also be stretched and
re-stretched many times. The mesh and glue are simply removed from the frame using a
professional tool that doesn't damage the aluminum. Once cleaned, the frames can then be
re-stretched which will give you the ability to use that frame for years of hard work in your
shop.
Aluminum frames are also light weight which makes shipping less expensive and saves you
money in the long run. If you're looking to maximize performance in your shop, aluminum
frames are a great item to add to your screen printing equipment.
Wood vs. Aluminum
More about aluminum frames
.
What Is Tension?
The tension of your mesh is how tightly it is stretched across your frame. Having tension on
your mesh is important during the printing process for registration, ink transfer, ink deposit,
speed, and consistency. Tension is measured in a measurement unit called a NEWTON. Most
manual screens have a tension somewhere between 15-20 Newtons, typically in the 20 range
as they are new. As your screen is used, exposed, and printed with, it starts to loose tension.
Though a average stretched frame can withstand thousands of print impressions, every print
adversely affects the tension in a minute way. After 5000 prints, your screen my have dropped
from 20 Newtons to 13-14. Optimally for manually printing you should not print with screens
under 14 or 15 Newtons.
ALUMI NUM WOOD
STATIC ROLLER
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How do you measure tension?
High Tension vs. Low Tension
How does tension relate to different types of screens?
Mesh/ Thread Count
A Newton meter measures the bi-directional tension of your screen
mesh. They are a handy but expensive tool to have in your shop. You
dont have to have a Newton meter starting out, however as you
progress and accumulate more screens and start printing higher
detailed work, then a tension meter is something you DEFINITELY
want to invest in.
Most manual frames and standard mesh print around 18 Newtons
which excerpts about 350 to 400 pounds of Total Mesh Force to work with to try and transfer
the ink. A Newman Roller Frame with Roller Mesh at 50 Newtons is giving you approximately
1,500 pounds of Total Mesh Force to work with to make the ink transfer properly. It is the force
of the mesh that is doing the work for the printer or working against the printer if the mesh
force is low.
High tension enables you to expose HIGHER DETAIL and transfer maximum ink coverage
to the substrate.
High tension =BETTER REGISTRATION because the mesh movement is minimized and
the off contact needed is minimal.
High tension increases PRINT SPEED because the mesh force helps the squeegee transfer
ink and the minimal off contact means the squeegee doesn't have to press as hard while
printing. This enables the squeegee to move faster which in turn increases production speed
tremendously.
Manually stretched and stapled wood frames =NO TENSION
Professionally stretched wood frames =Average Tension, lower life span.
Professionally stretched aluminum frames =Average/Good Tension, medium life span.
Newman Roller Frames =High Tension, Maximum life span. YOU CONTROL YOUR OWN
TENSION!
Different mesh sizes are used for different applications in the screen printing process. Mesh
size is measured by how many threads of mesh there are crossing per square inch. For
instance, a 110 mesh screen has 110 threads crossing per square inch. The higher the mesh
count, the finer the threads and holes are in the screen. The size of the mesh has a lot to do
with how detailed your image is and how thick the ink you are using is. If you have an image
with extremely high detail, a lower mesh screen won't hold the high detail. The fine lines or
dots in the image will simply fall through the holes in the mesh not giving you a correct
representation of what your image should be. Also if you are using a thinner ink, the ink will
also flood through the larger holes and soak onto your shirt or substrate making your image
blurry as the ink bleeds. On the other hand, if you are trying to print a thicker ink (such as
white) through too high of a mesh screen, barely any ink will print through the mesh. You will
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notice that different companies have different sizes available. If the mesh count is fairly close,
such as the difference between 155 vs. 156, 196 vs. 200, or 81 vs. 86, the difference is so
negligible and small that it will not matter in your final results.
Since there are many variables involved in silk screen printing we can't tell you exactly what
mesh sizes are used for what applications. However we can give you a general outline of
what sizes to use for certain types of printing.
Your basic and most standard mesh sizes are 110 and 156. 110 mesh lays a fairly thick layer
of ink down. It's great for block text letters and larger spot color designs. It's also a
recommended mesh for white flash plates because many times you will only have to make
one print impression which speeds up production time. 156 mesh also lays down a little
thicker layer of screen printing ink but offers you some higher detail ability in your image due
to the finer mesh. Also if you are printing with a little thinner viscosity colors of inks, you may
want to use the 156 mesh so not too much ink is passed through your screen. Lower mesh
counts like 40-86 are used for shimmer and glitter inks. These inks have particles in them that
will not pass through the typical mesh sizes. Therefore you need a lower mesh count with
large holes in order for all the particles to pass through properly.
Shimmer plastisol inks have finer particles in them so you could probably use an 86 mesh
while glitter inks have much larger particles so it would be recommended to use a 40 or 60
mesh screen. 200 and 230 mesh are used for finer detailed images and thinner inks. These
mesh sizes can hold larger half tone dots but are not recommended for four color process
prints or fine detail half tone printing. Also graphic and solvent based silk screening inks that
are much thinner should be used with these mesh sizes. Also if you would like a softer feel to
the ink on your shirts you can print through these higher mesh counts which will let less ink
through the screen giving you a much softer feel on the shirt. This can get tricky however,
many times a duller distressed look is wanted for the artwork but if bright vibrant colors are
desired (especially white) you will have a hard time getting the opacity thick enough using
these higher meshes. 305 mesh is used for extremely high detail textile printing and fine
halftone four color process and simulated process prints. Fine half tone dots need high, fine
detail mesh in order to hold and expose on. Higher meshes such as 355, 380, and 400 are
used mainly for graphic printing with UV inks. UV inks are extremely thin and many times are
used for high detail printing on signs, banners, or CD's. Using a higher mesh allows the
automatic presses used in UV printing to regulate the amount of ink passed through the
screen.
: Different mesh sizes hold different amounts of emulsion, due to how big the
holes in the mesh are. For instance a 110 mesh screen will hold much more emulsion then a
305 mesh screen. While the difference isn't extreme, you will have to vary your exposure
times slightly for different mesh sizes. A finer mesh screen that holds less emulsion will
expose faster then a lower mesh screen that holds more emulsion. However, the difference is
small so you may have to only vary as slightly as 5-10% in either direction and depending on
mesh size in order to get maximum exposure performance.
- The tension or tightness of your screen mesh is very important to the quality of image you
can produce. As your screens become old they can lose tension. By dropping below the
proper tension, (15-20n)your screen will not release properly, causing a less than desirable
image.

Exposure Notes
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TENSION
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- As the mesh loses tension, the fabric begins to distort, causing the resolution of the mesh to
become unsuitable for use. You can tear out the mesh when it becomes un-usable, and re-
stretch with new mesh, with the proper tools.
- As your business grows you may want to invest in a tension meter, so you can more closely
monitor your screen tension.
- White mesh has more light refraction than a dyed mesh. In other words light will scatter on a
white mesh causing a less resolute image. White is usually used in lower mesh counts, up to
155 count, which typically are used for spot color work or larger text.
- Yellow or dyed mesh, has very little light refraction. In other words you get a much truer
image, resulting in a more defined edge and a crisper print. On counts above 155 you would
typically use a dyed mesh. One thing to keep in mind, is that a dyed mesh will have a bit
longer exposure time than a white mesh, say 15-20%.
- Hand is the feel of the printed surface on the garment. The less you feel the print is called
soft the more is hard. Soft hand being better.
- The hand is determined by mesh count, mesh tension and ink viscosity.
- The higher the mesh count the less ink laid down.
- You can also modify the viscosity of the ink, by reducing it to create a softer hand.
- Keep in mind however, that by changing the ink and or going with a higher mesh count, you
will also sacrifice color saturation.
- Dark garments inevitably require a flash plate or under base print, before the design is
printed. General purpose Ink generally does not print well on dark garments, choose High
Opacity Inks
- The flash plate allows a white background for the colors to print on giving it a vibrant look,
you would use a lower mesh 110-155 for spot color, type
designs and a 155-230 for high definition work.
- Lower mesh allows too much coverage for higher
definition jobs, and the high mesh count does not leave a
smooth enough surface for lower definition jobs.
White Vs. Dyed Mesh
Mesh Equals Hand
Flash Plate Variables
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HALFTONES & SUCH
- When printing jobs with halftones, tints or fine line art, the mesh you choose to use is very
important. Choose a higher mesh count than you would normally use.
- Halftones are measured by LPI or lines per inch. The higher the halftone LPI, the smaller
the dot. As you begin screen printing you will probably only use these three line counts.
1. 35 LPI, used for simple gradients and drop shadows on darker garments, this is a larger
line but works good when doing a dark garment because more ink needs to go down in order
for it to show up.
2. 45 LPI, more complex gradient designs used for simulated process.
3. 55 LPI, used for 4 color process.
You choose your screen count by taking the halftone line count and X by 5. So for instance, a
45 LPI halftone would need to expose on a 225 or higher mesh screen.
35 LPI x 5 = 175 Mesh
45 LPI x 5 = 225 Mesh
55 LPI x 5 = 275 Mesh
35 LPI
175 MESH
45 LPI
225 MESH
55 LPI
275 MESH
LEARN I T WELL!
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CHAPTER 4
SETTING UP A JOB
& PRINTING
Job Prep (part 2) Print order,
Registration, Strike-offs,
Squeegee selection,
Printing techniques and
Production estimations.
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JOB PREPARATION (PRE-PRESS PT.2)
Art & Screen Check
Block Out & Touch Up
Shirt / Stock Prep
Registration
Prepress (or make-ready) is the name given to the point in the screen printing process (and
other printing processes) where the art and screen are given a final check. The stock or
substrate is prepared and arranged for printing, the ink has been mixed and thinned, and the
drying system and items needed during the print run are assembled close at hand and ready
to use. It is important to carry out these prepress activities before the ink hits the screen,
otherwise delays in printing will occur, often stopping the print process or requiring cleaning of
the screen.
Using the film as a guide, a final inspection of the stencil should be made. Pay special
attention to pinholes, or lines caused by film edges on the stencil, or any other imperfections
in the stencil or image. These should be touched up before the screen is put in the press.
Touch-up or block-out is applied to the underside of the screen using a brush for spots, or a
small flat spreader (old squeegee or sign vinyl applicators work great and clean easily) for
larger areas. If touched up on the top-side of a screen, you risk
wearing nicks or gouges in the squeegee rubber.
Ensure that the screen is in good shape, with no serious rips or
holes that will breakdown during the print run. If there is any
doubt that a stencil is suspect, or the image is flawed, re-
expose the screen. It saves time, money, and frustration if the
problem is fixed at this point of the process.
Taping off screen gutters along the sides of the frame, or
around images, can be carried out at this time, or if it's easier,
tape the screen once it is in the press. Use thin screen printing or packing tape, never paper
or masking tape. A good tape job makes production printing easier because it controls where
the ink goes, and makes clean-up a snap.
On long production runs, especially with water base, or when you know a stock edge is going
to wear on the screen, a line of tape on the underside can protect the stencil from wearing thin
from squeegee pressure along an edge. Make sure the tape goes on flat with no creases or
folds.
Whatever the stock or substrate is, it needs to be prepared for printing. This includes
unpacking shirts, verifying counts and sizes, cutting down in size from master sheet to press
sheet size, or may mean removing wrapping or packaging, or cleaning dust or other residue
from surfaces. The stock should be prearranged or stacked on a convenient table close to the
press. Whatever the stock, keep it clean!!! The idea with getting the stock ready before you
start printing is to avoid dealing with unpacking, packaging, cutting, or unnecessary delays
once you have inked the screen and started your print run.
There are a number of methods of registration (lining up the screen image with the stock) and
many are dependant on the type of press system. Simple hand presses do not allow for
adjustment of the screen or printing table, so the stock must be moved to achieve precise
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registration (left to right, up and down). On more sophisticated press systems, the screen
master frame can be unlocked, this method require the image on the screen to be within a
working adjustable area. This is called 'pre-registration' and occurs when the film positive is
exposed on the screen.
By taping the positive in place on the pre-registration board OR
pallet, you now have a visual reference for register by looking
through the screen and lining up the stencil with the positive.
Keep adjusting until you have both lined up and then carefully
tighten your screen locks. Remember, after your stencil and
positive are lined up you may encounter some deflection when
you start printing due to screen stretch or play in the press.
Always check registration once the printing has started and make
your final adjustments at that time. Then, lock everything down
for the print run.
The practice of pre-sticking punched tabs on to material, and then locating each piece on two
pins stuck to the table top during the print run, has to be one of the most convoluted and time
consuming methods of register ever invented. Pin registration is used in film making and
stripping to register overlays to each other. When used in this context it is accurate and
accepted industry wide.
Someone saw this done once and borrowed the idea for screen printing. Now it seems
generations of college and university printmaking students have been taught a method that is
not very efficient and causes major problems for the printer before, during, and after the
printing. All other graphic processes use 3 point x y axis location, where the material itself
comes in contact with the register tab or stop. Why? Because 3 point is quick, accurate, and
easy to use.
The Tri Loc registration system works specifically with M&R presses and the Tri-Loc J R
registration system works with Riley Hopkins presses.

No other registration system offers the ease of use and
accuracy of M&R's patented Tri-Loc and Double Tri-Loc,
M&R's revolutionary Rapid Registration Systems. Tri-Locs
are key components in System Integration. By designing
products that work together seamlesslyproducts like Tri-
Loc & Double Tri-Loc with M&R & Riley Hopkins equipment
provides faster setup, improved quality, increased
productivity, and enhanced profitability.
- Precise, repeatable registration from screen-to-screen.
- Simple to set up and use, with sizes to fit most textile screen frames.
Tri-Locs are compatible with all M&R textile presses and can be used with wood frames,
aluminum static frames, and roller frames. Tri-Locs are affordably priced, extremely cost
effective and have no moving critical registration points to wear out. Tri-Locs employ
precision-milled stop points to ensure that the operator can precisely match the registration on
the exposure unit with the registration on the press.
Placing the Positive
Pin Registration or Tri Loc
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Center Lines On Press
Ink Prep
ITEMS REQUIRED DURING THE PRINT RUN
Tools
Tool Cart
Artwork, Sample Print, Work Order Artwork, Sample Print, Work Order
Mental Check List
- Once your screen is registered it is important to draw center lines on the press. This is when
pallet tape comes in handy. Pallet tape protects your pallet and allows you to draw on it, its
also great for cleanup and future jobs because you just peel the pallet tape up and you have a
brand new pallet again.
- A center line allows you to line the center lines you
exposed on your screen easily up to the center line
on your pallet. This is KEY for saving hours
during lineup. No t-squares or measuring tapes
either.
Ink for printing should be mixed and thinned to
a workable viscosity. Additional thinners should
be close at hand for adjustment once printing is
started. Always ensure that you start with more ink
than you need, especially when printing a custom
color. The ink needs to be placed within reach of the press, but in a spot that it won't be
accidentally knocked over.
It's a good idea to ensure that the following items are ready and close at hand before inking
the screen and starting the press run:
Clear tape, spray tack, screen opener, a knife, rags, thinners, sponges and water for water
base), a pen or pencil, print-off paper, a loupe, T-square and a small ruler are all items that
need to be at hand during the run. Depending on the press set-up or material being printed,
other specific tools may be required to adjust the press.
A small wheeled table with a drawer makes an excellent addition to any print area. The tools
can be stored in the drawer, and stock and/or ink can be placed on top. It can be easily moved
into position during the print run, or moved to facilitate cleaning or adjustments on the press.
In our production shop, each printer had his or her own table, and they are responsible for
keeping their supplies and tools in order and ready for use.
Keep these handy for reference at the start and during the run. It's important to check the first
prints for positioning, print detail, and color before proceeding with the entire print run.
Once all the items involved in pre-press have been taken care of, it's time to set up the job on
the press. In some situations, press set-up can coincide with stock prep and ink mixing.
Finally, it's always a good idea to make a quick mental check-off of the above pre-press items
before pouring ink in the press.
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PRINT ORDER
SETTING UP THE JOB / REGISTRATION
Place your other screens into the press from light to dark (dark being the outline). Align your
targets or image up to the film on the platen. The general rule of thumb in print order goes
from smallest area to largest (on LIGHT shirts) with the outline being last. On DARK shirts the
process is darkest color to the lightest, why? Light colors contain MORE pigment than darker
colors and will lead to excessive buildup; you're encouraged to experiment.
- Take your screen and tape it all around the inside, half on the frame, and half on the mesh
and place screens in press. Ensure that all of your adjustments on the press are in the middle
position.
- Check that your off-contact is correct, approx. 1/16-1/8 between the bottom of the screen
and the platen. We recommend you use an off contact tab like a quarter or a steel washer to
help the screen maintain its off contact throughout the print when you are pressing down on
the screen with your squeegee. The off contact tab is taped to the top of the screen frame and
should rest on the neck portion of your screen printing pallet.
- Place your trap or outline color on the platen and center to desired print location. Then
scotch tape onto platen.
- Your screen should remain off contact at least 1/16th of an inch as this leads to better ink
transference, sharpness and less buildup of colors on subsequent screens.
- Micro-registration is a tool on higher end presses as is the J oystick
system for dialing in the screen to register. Without a J oystick or
micro your ability to do minute registration changes is lowered
substantially. Less expensive presses rely on the printers ability to line
up designs, usually with the assistance of a mallet.
Test and Record results!!!
PRINTING TECHNIQUES
- Squeegee angle and pressure. Your squeegee in the print position
should be in 1-2 o'clock position. You do need to put a fair amount of
pressure when pulling the squeegee towards you. After your print pass
the screen should appear to be clean of ink in the image area. If it is;
do NOT do a second pass before lifting the screen.
- Spray some adhesive on the platen and then place a test square or
pellon on the print platen and make a print onto the test square. Once
finished look at your print and make adjustments as needed. Re-print until the image is
correctly lined up.
- Mist adhesive is used primarily, but when printing sweatshirts or other fleece garments, you
should use a web adhesive.
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- Once you have the image all lined up, go ahead and print an actual garment. Please refer to
the flashing and curing section first (ch. 5), to figure flash parameters.
- Place your shirts to either side of you and a flash or cure area opposite and you are ready to
roll.
- USE a placement and strike-off form (or production control sheet) and youre ready to begin
your job.
Strike-Offs
Preparation
SQUEEGEE FUNCTION, SELECTION & CARE
Printing process-color inks, fine detail and dark inks
Strike-offs (test prints prior to production) are the last critical check before running production
to ensure registration, color, placement and especially ART (This should have been done in
Art & Screens as well).
Strike-offs are usually done on a man-made woven material called pellon as it is more
economic than t-shirts. Also you can keep a pellon in your job jacket for re-order purposes.
Once you get an acceptable strike off fill out your Production report and have it signed off on
by a Superior or your customer. All the items, steps and advice to this point are
Is the HEART of any screen printing job!
Actual production means nothing if you're not properly prepared with art, great screens,
correct colors of ink, customer approval of art and hopefully the print, shirts and production
orders.
75% Preparation, 25% Production!
As insane as this may sound you'll find in time that this holds true, don't run and do art, coat a
screen, burn and print ONLY to do it all over again! Take the time to do all the art for your
week or at least half of it, strip and reclaim screens and coat enough screens J UST in case,
believe me I've been thankful for extra screens during exposure. The final part of the equation
besides ordering goods, taping screens, mixing inks and setting up is...?
For many reasons, process-color, fine detail and small text printing requires the sharpest edge
possible. A sharp squeegee provides the type of ink shear you need to maintain detail. The
primary objective is to accurately reproduce halftone dots with as little dot gain as possible, to
keep fine lines from spreading. High shear from a sharp squeegee edge is the best way to
minimize the gain.
With a rounded squeegee edge, the interface between the squeegee and the screen forces
more ink through the mesh. Coupled with the additional drag of the squeegee on the screen,
this leads to a heavier ink deposit and dot gain. In halftone printing, fine details and small text
youll definitely want the sharpest possible squeegee.
CRITICAL!
P R O D U C T I O N!!
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Printing large-area spot color
For printing flat areas of solid spot color, seldom use a screen fabric that is coarser than 230
threads/in., you can do single- and multicolor jobs through mesh counts as low as 140
threads/in.
The coarser the mesh, the more help you need to transfer the ink to the garment, and after
the flood bar fills those mesh openings, there will be a lot of ink to transfer. This is where the
rounded squeegee profile comes in. A very sharp squeegee will require an excessive amount
of pressure to transfer all the ink from the mesh to the substrate.
A rounded blade edge, on the other hand, makes broader contact with the screen and
effectively "plows" the ink onto the substrate. When printing flat color through mesh counts in
the 140- to 180-thread/in. range, removing about 1/32 in. of material from a sharp squeegee
edge can help you minimize over-shearing of the ink film and provide a heavier ink deposit.
Technically, you can use a sharp or rounded squeegee to deposit the required amount of ink
for spot-color printing, but the sharp blade causes some problems. All that squeegee pressure
causes much of the ink film to be depressed into the fabric, rather than just laid on the fabric
surface where it should be.
That excessive pressure will also result in lost print definition. In many cases, when you
experience coverage issues when using a sharp squeegee on coarse mesh counts you will
remedy the situation by simply double-stroking the color. The problem is that the additional
stroke decreases overall production speed. Using the correct squeegee profile is a more
effective approach.
Printing puff ink
Puff inks require a thicker deposit than standard garment printing inks. The mesh counts used
for puff printing can vary depending on the ink manufacturer's recommendations. Mesh
selection is also dependent on the desired loft and effect that you wish to achieve. In general
meshes for puff printing fall in the 60- to 180-threads/in. range. Since a majority of the
recommended mesh counts for puff applications fall in this range, using round-edged
squeegees can be beneficial.
When you're printing puff inks, you're striving for a particular thickness in the cured ink film.
This cured ink film is dependent on the wet ink film you lay down, which is influenced by the
mesh count and stencil thickness, as well as the squeegee-edge profile. All three variables
work together to produce the desired result. If the printing edge of the squeegee is too sharp,
it will over-shear the ink film and deposit an insufficient amount of ink to achieve the desired
loft after curing.
This situation is especially noticeable whenever you attempt to print highly detailed puff-ink
images through higher mesh counts with thicker stencils.
Puff printing benefits from a rounded squeegee profile. You want to have a sufficiently
rounded edge on the squeegee's printing face to allow the blade to simultaneously contact
two horizontal threads of mesh during any point of the print stroke.
This allows the squeegee to evenly pass the ink film through the mesh and transfer the
correct ink-film thickness to the surface of the fabric. By using the correct squeegee pressure,
you'll achieve a print with good definition and thickness that will expand properly during the
curing process.
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Printing reflective ink
The parameters for printing reflective inks are almost identical to those for puff inks. But here,
the emphasis on control is slightly greater since the inks you are printing can cost upwards of
$200/gal. For economy's sake, you want to ensure that your ink-film thickness is consistent
and uniform from print to print.
When printing reflectives, over-shearing the ink with a sharp squeegee will leave you with too
little ink on the garment and you will be forced to double stroke. Using a rounded squeegee
profile can prevent double-stroking and will save time and labor, as well as ink costs.
Squeegee selection criteria
Blade profile
Squeegees can influence printing results, but only if other variables in the process are
controlled. This means understanding the properties of your inks, as well as using high screen
tension, low off-contact distance, and press settings that don't over saturate the screen with
ink. After optimizing these variables for a particular job, it's time to select the squeegee based
on three parameters: durometer, blade profile, and blade edge profile.
Durometer: Durometer refers to the "hardness" of the squeegee. It
affects the squeegee's adaptability to the surface and determines the
amount of printing force transmitted to the screen and the substrate. Soft
squeegees are more adaptable and transmit less force than hard ones.
Profile is the shape of the squeegee's printing edge. This shape also determines the
squeegee's adaptability. In a sense, profile fine tunes this adaptability and limits the amount of
force transmitted to the printing surface.
The profile affects the relationship between the set squeegee angle and the effective
squeegee angle relative to the screen in the direction of the print stroke. The effective angle is
the actual angle during printing, when the force of the print stroke deflects the squeegee
beyond the set angle. The smaller the effective squeegee angle, the more ink that is forced
into the screen ahead of the printing blade and the less ink that is scraped off the screen
surface.
Depending on the profile you select, the squeegee will force more or less ink into the screen,
thereby influencing the printed ink-deposit thickness. Profile options include the following:
Square/rectangular: This profile provides medium adaptability and maximum force. When
using a square/rectangular profile, the effective angle approximates the set angle. This is the
most frequently used profile in screen printing.
Beveled Edges: These can be beveled in various ways to provide maximum adaptability and
minimum force. With beveled profiles, the effective angle is always less than the set angle.
Beveling is most effective when used in applications requiring squeegees less than 14 in. (36
cm) long.
Round Squeegees: A round profile provides minimum adaptability and minimum force. With
such squeegees, the effective angle is always very small and nearly independent of the set
angle.
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Blade edge profile
Not to be confused with blade profile, the squeegee's blade edge profile refers to its
sharpness. Edge profile establishes the amount of ink that will ultimately be delivered to the
substrate. The sharper the edge, the less ink it will deliver. Since the amount of ink going
through the screen also affects the resolution of the image, the less ink that is deposited, the
sharper the printed image.
Mixing these three parameters in different combinations presents a wide range of possible
squeegee types. For practical use, however, the primary combinations can be grouped to
provide 12 general squeegee types. Since a squeegee essentially can be either sharp or dull,
and the profile can be basically one of three shapes, this gives rise to four possible
combinations:
1. Square/rectangle profiles with sharp edge
2. Square/rectangle profiles with round edge
3. Beveled profiles with sharp edge
4. Round profiles with no edge
Each of these combinations can occur in one of three general durometers (soft, medium, and
hard), for a total of 12 squeegee types.
Selecting the appropriate squeegee out of these 12 types depends on the nature of the
product being printed and a near infinite variety of production variables, including the
substrate, ink, image, equipment and operator skills. Substrates, for example, can be hard or
soft, smooth or rough, even or uneven, absorbent or nonabsorbent, etc. Inks may be opaque
or transparent, tacky or non-tacky, high or low viscosity, etc.
The image can comprise high- or low-resolution detail, or it may simply be a coating that
covers the entire surface of the substrate. The printing equipment you use may be new or old,
well maintained or poorly treated, and properly or marginally set up. Operators may be
accomplished craftsmen or newly trained employees without any experience. And, of course,
you face a wide range of intermediate values between any two of these extremes.
All these situations add up to a vast number of possible product/processing combinations. For
this reason, it is impossible to recommend any one of the 12 squeegee types without
analyzing the appropriate processing variables. On the other hand, it is possible to correlate
the 12 squeegee types with the general functions of the squeegee.
Note that besides the previously mentioned
variables, the squeegee also has an attribute
that is difficult to quantify: resistance to
abrasion and chemicals. No standards or tests
exist to evaluate this attribute. However, I
strongly recommend that you document the
performance of your squeegee materials and
evaluate them on the basis of actual production.
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Squeegee sharpening
Squeegee care and storage
Since even the best squeegee edge will eventually change its shape (due to abrasion with the
screen fabric), you'll need to redress the edge regularly. Typically, this is accomplished by
grinding the edge on a squeegee sharpener.
When sharpening a squeegee, observe the following guidelines:
1. Use coarse grinding tools (the lower the grit, the coarser) when you have to remove a lot of
material all at once.
2. In general, remove as little material as possible using the finest grit that will "cut" the
material (rather than melt and smear it).
3. Make sure the squeegee edge is straight, and the blade's free height is uniform along the
squeegee's entire length.
4. When printing with transparent inks or printing images that require totally uniform coverage
without squeegee marks, polish the edge of the blade with a fine (400- to 600-grit) emery
cloth.
5. When polishing the edge of the squeegee blade, try to bevel the edge for high-resolution
images and round it for broad, uniform printed areas. A beveled edge provides a sharper
printed image than a rounded one. However, it is easier to eliminate "nicks" from the
squeegee edge by rounding it.
6. Always round off the ends of the squeegee on either side of the blade: Sharp ends serve no
useful purpose and put undue stress on the screen mesh.
Getting the most out of your squeegees also means storing and maintaining them properly.
Here are a few tips to help you maximize the quality and useful life of your squeegees:
1. Store squeegee blades flat, not in a roll. Long pieces should be cut to size, then stored flat.
2. Assembled squeegees (where the blade is mounted in the holder) should be stored so that
the blade rests on the top end of the holder. A squeegee should never rest on the blade, and
the blade should never touch anything during storage.
3. Squeegees should be cleaned immediately after use to prevent accumulation of dried-up
ink. Neither the blade nor the holder should have any ink left after cleaning. (Dry ink near the
edge of the blade will cause squeegee marks during printing.)
4. Squeegees should not be "left to soak" in solvents. Although they are designed to withstand
most solvents, soaking will cause temporary swelling and permanent loss of resilience.
5. Unsupported squeegee blades should be rotated at least every four to six hours during
production to prevent permanent deformation of the blade.
6. Squeegees age and harden with time. Do not use old blades that are 10 degrees (units of
durometer) harder than their original designation. Such materials will perform erratically and
will have minimum resilience and abrasion resistance.
SQUEEGEE CONCLUSION
As a screen printer, you have to contend with a long list of variables in order to ensure
accurate color and resolution on your prints. Fortunately, the variables relating to the
squeegee are among the easiest to identify and match to your job requirements. By taking
careful steps when selecting squeegees and making squeegee maintenance a regular part of
your production routine, you'll be able to deliver accurate, high-quality graphics print after
print.
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PRODUCTION ESTIMATIONS
In a garment-printing business--or any other printing operation for that matter--your
production-time expectations are important. You want to know how much time you need to
produce a certain type of job for a number of reasons. First, you want to be able to schedule
jobs with a degree of certainty about when they will be completed. Without a calculated
estimate of the production time, you can pull a date out of the air or promise the customer
anything, just to get the order. Either way, you're risking a disappointed customer.
The second reason to estimate production times is profit. Many factors contribute to the costs
of a job and directly impact the bottom-line profit figure, including expenses such as blank
garments, supplies, labor, rent, utilities, taxes, and many more. The time it takes to produce
the job also influences costs. So if you can accurately estimate production time, you'll be
better prepared to forecast profitability on the job.
Gauging the efficiency of employees and of the shop in general is the third reason for
estimating production times. As experience has probably taught you, work expands to fit the
time allowed. So if employees know what is expected of them, they will be more inclined to
finish a job in the allotted time. The most valuable employees are those who continually strive
to accomplish more work in less time, and your estimated production times can serve as their
incentive.
Shop setup, equipment, and production procedures can create an environment that is either
conducive or inhibitive to productivity. If you make changes to any of these areas with the aim
of boosting productivity, production-time estimates can help you measure the improvement.
You may decide to upgrade equipment or supplies to improve production rates. In such
situations, if you have pre-upgrade production-time estimates to compare against post-
upgrade estimates, you'll find it easier to quantify the success of the upgrade. So if you see a
reduction in print times after replacing some of your wooden screen frames with
retensionables, you can feel confident about investing in more new frames. This same
example holds true for any number of screen-printing tools and supplies.
The screen-printing process presents literally thousands of variables that you need to deal
with. The individual importance of these variables differs from facility to facility--even from one
print station to the next. That's why you need to estimate production time rather than try to
pinpoint exactly how long a particular job should take. What you're looking for is a good
ballpark number--one that keeps the ball in the park!
Using some simple charts, a little basic math, and data collected from within your facility, you
can establish accurate production-time estimates for your shop. You can use this information
for scheduling, estimating costs and profits, assessing employee performance, and improving
plant efficiency. A good estimating formula will help you be certain that all costs are covered,
whether they are direct labor costs or a percentage of overhead attributed to a proportional
time on the press.
Figure 1. Standard Job Times on a Manual Press
Times shown in minutes 1 color 2 color 3 color 4 color 5 color 6 color
Production time/garment 0.50 0.55 0.60 0.67 0.75 0.86
Setup and breakdown 12 24 36 48 60 72
The values shown in this table are averages calculated from actual production, setup, and breakdown times. Note that these
are examples only--values for your own operation are likely to be different due to production procedures, equipment, etc.
58
PRODUCTION ESTIMATIONS (CONT.)
Special numbers
Figure 2. Special Job Times / Manual Press
Times shown in minutes 1 color 2 color 3 color 4 color 5 color 6 color
Production time/garment 0.67 0.75 0.86 1.00 1.20 1.50
Setup and breakdown 12 24 36 48 60 72
Bear in mind that the numbers in (Figure 1) are general guidelines only. Actual data from your
facility may vary significantly ours. This doesn't mean that one of us is wrong; it just means
that no standards exist for comparison. Your own data will be used to fashion those
expectations we discussed earlier.
Start with the manual press chart (Figure 1). You'll notice two sets of figures. The top line
represents production time for jobs ranging from one to six colors. The second line denotes
the combined times for setup and breakdown. By "setup" we mean every task that occurs
from the time the press operator picks up the first screen in the job set, until the first
acceptable print comes off the machine. Remember, though, that we are talking about actual
production time, which does not include auxiliary tasks such as mixing ink colors, sharpening
squeegees, and the like. We will assume your tools and supplies are in order when you begin
to set up the press.
By the same token, "breakdown" refers to the time period after the last good print comes off
the machine until you reach for the first screen of the next job. Tasks such as screen cleaning
and reclaiming don't count in this exercise. We will divide setup and breakdown times later,
but for our initial calculations, they are combined into one line on the estimating chart.
Now it's time for us to calculate production time for a job. Our sample job will be a four-color
order of 96 pieces, which we will print on a manual printer. According to our chart, which is
based on my accumulated data, the estimated time to print one four-color garment is 0.67
min, so in theory, our job should take 64.32 min to print:
96 pieces x 0.67 min =64.32 min of production
We can round this number to 64 min and then add the setup/breakdown time from the chart:
64 min of production +48 min of setup/breakdown =112 min total
Not everything you print fits into the category of wet-on-wet, 100% cotton, white T-shirts.
Several non-standard categories require their own special charts for your estimations. For
example, some shops can get by with only one special chart for, say, single-flash work, which
is the basis for the chart shown in Figure 2. Other shops will have multiple special charts for
multiple flashes or for other special handling requirements (some production requires more
time for handling than for actual printing). If you have special handling or other circumstances
on your production floor, you will need separate production-time charts that incorporate the
extra time needed for these types of jobs.
You'll need to create separate tables for jobs with special production requirements, such as flash curing or additional handling
(heat-application of foil, embroidering, etc.). Note that while these special procedures add to production times, they may not
affect setup/breakdown times.
Every production floor is different when it comes to print time, setup time, and breakdown
time. It is not important that you try to match or improve upon the numbers we have presented
in these charts. The real issue is to know what your actual production-time numbers are, and
then using them in whatever estimating formula you use.
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PRODUCTION ESTIMATIONS (CONT.)
Calculating setup and breakdown
Figure 3. Recording Setup and Breakdown Times
Setup and breakdown times were combined in the charts used earlier. Now separate these
numbers to get more accurate figures and to identify areas of production that might stand
some improvement. (Figure 3) lists the individual setup and breakdown times corresponding
to the combined times shown in (Figures 1 and 2.)
As with all the numbers we use in this process, the times in the charts are averages of many
jobs. Essentially, the combined times for setup and breakdown represent all the time that a
press is not producing printed garments--or the time your press is not actually making money.
Your goal as a screen printer is to maximize printing time and minimize setup and breakdown.
Tracking setup and breakdown time requires a clipboard and a stopwatch. Use accounting
ledger sheets with the number of columns corresponding to the number of colors available on
your production floor. You'll need a column for one-color jobs, a column for two-color jobs, and
so on. (Figure 3) illustrates how your setup and breakdown charts should look. For ease of
manipulation and for permanent storage of your data, record the numbers in a spreadsheet
program. If you're really ambitious about this, you can create updated charts and graph them
to show increases or decreases in setup and breakdown times
If you can do your stopwatch work discreetly, you'll get better, more realistic numbers. You
want to know how long the process takes under normal circumstances, not the time it takes
when your operators are going for the record under your watchful eye.
On your setup time sheet, start the clock as soon as the previous job is done. Stop the clock
when the first good print of the current job goes onto the dryer belt. For breakdown, start the
clock when your inspector at the end of the belt says the current order is complete. Stop the
clock when the operator reaches for the first screen of the next job. And if your operator
leaves for the restroom, grabs a cup of coffee, or stops to discuss the last Monday night
football game, keep the clock running. All downtime outside of actual printing time is attributed
to either setup or breakdown.
1 Color 2 Color 3 Color 4 Color 5 Color 6 Color
60
PRODUCTION ESTIMATIONS (CONT.)
240 min total 10 ledger entries = 24 min/setup
After you've compiled at least ten setups and ten breakdowns for each category (one color,
two color, etc.), calculate the average setup and breakdown times for each category by
totaling the values in each column and dividing by the number of times recorded in each
column. For example, let's say you add all the minutes recorded in the "three-color jobs"
column, and you arrive at a total of 240 min for 10 jobs. The average is calculated as follows:
Perform the same calculation for the breakdown times on your ledger sheets. Then combine
the numbers for setup and breakdown to make your final production-time calculations easier.
You'll want to re-measure and recalculate the setup and breakdown times at least once a year
to see where you stand against your own average.
Figure 4. Setup and Breakdown Times
Manual Press / Times shown in minutes
1 color 2 color 3 color 4 color 5 color 6 color
Setup 7 16 25 34 43 52
Breakdown 5 8 11 14 17 27
Calculating printing time
Figure 5. Production Time Data Table
Average setup and breakdown times are calculated for typical jobs as shown in these tables.
These values are combined for each number of colors printed, and the total times are used in
the actual production-time estimate chart (Figures 1 and 2).
Use the same ledger procedure for calculating your print time numbers, which will be unique
to your own shop. Print time is the time span from when the first good print goes on the dryer
belt until you say the order is complete. As with the calculations for setup and breakdown,
print time includes all the time spent at the coffee machine, repairing a screen, or running to
the warehouse for just one more medium, white T-shirt. Figure 5 shows a sample form for
recording actual production (printing) time. Now, because setup and breakdown numbers will
be fairly consistent for all types of printing jobs (e.g. multiple flashes), all setup and breakdown
data can be recorded on one chart. But your printing times will vary for those special jobs we
discussed earlier. That will necessitate additional charts for each type of special job. You will
use one chart for wet-on-wet work, another for flash printing, etc. You will also add extra
columns to record the number of pieces in each job.
1 Color
pcs time
2 Color
pcs time
3 Color
pcs time
4 Color
pcs time
5 Color
pcs time
6 Color
pcs time
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PRODUCTION ESTIMATIONS (CONT.)
412 min 2575 pieces = 0.16 min
500 pieces x 0.16 min/garment = 80 min total production.
Your own schedule
To use the table (Figure 5), under each color category number, record the number of pieces
printed and the total minutes required to print the job. Repeat this exercise for at least ten
jobs. Do not include setup and breakdown times, but include all the time between the first
good print off the dryer and completion of the final print. Add up the times and the number of
pieces printed for each column. Then divide the total time by the total number of pieces to get
the average time per garment for that number of colors printed
Total the print-time column again, just as you did when calculating setup and breakdown
averages. But this time, rather than calculating the average, you're going to total the columns
for number of pieces and time. Then you'll divide the total time (in minutes) recorded on your
chart by the total number of pieces produced. This will give you a figure that is the estimated
production time to print one garment.
Let's do an example:
Under the heading of five-color automatic wet-on-wet jobs, let's say you have 10 entries that
total 412 min of production. The total number of pieces produced in 412 min is 2575 pieces.
Divide 412 min by 2575 pieces to get the time necessary in your shop to produce one five-
color garment on an automatic press.
Let's estimate the production time for a five-color job. First, create your own chart that
resembles Figure 2, the production-time chart for automatic presses. Then plug 0.16 min into
the "five-color jobs" column. To calculate print time for a 500-piece run in your own shop,
multiply 500 times your 0.16 per garment number:
To this 80 min, add your previously-calculated setup/breakdown number for a five-color job
(automatic press) to arrive at the estimated production time for your own unique operation.
As you fill out your work schedule based on your own estimated production times, be certain
to allow a little extra time for the unexpected--and for those special last minute customers. A
surefire way to get yourself into trouble is to schedule every minute of the week. Try to block
out 80% of your schedule with work orders right up until a week before production. Start to fill
in the extra 20% with either overflow work from the previous week, new "rush" orders, or
production from upcoming weeks.
62
CHAPTER 5
CURING PARAMETERS
Flash Temperatures,
Control Points For Flashing,
Final Cure Parameters
And Wash Testing.
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5
CURING PARAMETERS
In order for plastisol or water based ink to cure it has to reach 320 degrees throughout the ink.
If the ink does not reach those temps then it will not cure and is likely to washout of the shirt
prematurely. Here are some options for curing.
Heat guns are a borderline cure, problems are not being able to achieve
proper heat cure due to not knowing if the whole design is actually cured.
Can achieve cure, but more time needed. We recommend only using a
heat gun if you are a hobby screen printer testing the waters, if you want to
print shirts for other people, you would never want to print shirts and guess
on if they would be completely cured or not.
Flash dryers are a much better method as the heat is controlled and covers
the entire print. With flash cure about 3-1/2 to 4 above print, 10-20 seconds
for gel cure, 30- 45 seconds for full cure. Time will vary depending on
conditions, how large your flash dryer is, pallet temp etc. When you flash
dry a shirt for the final cure, we recommend taking the shirt off the pallet so
that the heat can penetrate through the entire shirt. If you leave it stuck on
the pallet it will take a lot longer to cure and keep your pallets hot which is
not conducive to productive printing.
Conveyors are the most efficient cure method as there is no waiting time for
final cure. The temperature is set and belt speed is adjusted so that when
the final color is printed, you simply place the shirt on belt and continue to
print. The shirt is cured through a heated oven chamber and simply drops in
a box set at end of dryer.
Typically on a dark garment, you will need to print a flash plate or under base, for the color to
stand out. Normally on a flash plate you need to make a print of the white then gel cure for 8-
10 seconds, then make another pass, white on white, gel cure again, and then begin printing
colors. Typically you will have to flash between every color. Keep in mind as well, that you
want to try to keep the pallet as cool as possible. When heat builds to high on the pallet you
may have problems. Another flash instance is when you are printing wet-on-wet and your final
color or trap, slightly overprints on the other colors, you would print your spot colors and then
do a gel cure, and then print your outline color.
Heat gun
Flash cure
Conveyer dryer
When to flash cure
64
CURING PARAMETERS
Test the cure
CONTROL POINTS OF HIGH-TEMPERATURE FLASHING
Flashing temperatures
The best way to ensure your ink is cured is to use a laser temp gun and temp the shirt under
the flash or when it comes out of the conveyor, if the ink temp is reaching 330-340 degrees
you are probably cured, if the ink is thicker, it may need to stay at that temp for a longer time
in order to cure throughout the ink deposit. You can also test your cure by pulling on the
garment, not real hard though, if the ink stretches with you it is cured. You can also dab a bit
of acetone on a shirt and rub the surface of the print, it should not come off onto the shirt.
Flashing temperatures often are allowed to stray from their optimum settings in the heat of a
busy production schedule. But in the long run, altering standard flash settings will lead to more
troubles than benefits. The optimum setting for most flash units is one in which the underbase
being flashed just reaches the temperature where it is dry enough to overprint with a minimal
amount of after-flash tack.
This setting changes depending on several variables, including the type of flash unit you are
using, the type and amount of ink you are attempting to flash cure, and the distance of the
flash unit's heat source from the surface of the ink film. Few printers place the required
amount of emphasis on flash curing. If correct flashing parameters are not maintained during
production, the problems that can emerge may include decreased productivity, increased
reject rates, and intercoat-adhesion issues that surface when the printed garments are
subjected to wash testing.
Many printers set the flash unit at its highest output level--more than 1000F on some models-
-in order to dry the ink film faster and speed up production. Typically, the ink will not react in a
positive way to this treatment; an increase in after-flash tack is the most likely result of using
excessive flashing temperatures. The increase in tack occurs when the surface temperature
of the ink surpasses its designed flash-drying point, typically between 180-250F, depending
on the ink. The only truly effective solution is to return the flash unit's temperature to its proper
settings.
NOT CURED CURED
NO CRACKING!
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The actual flashing time to use will depend on the characteristics of the underbase being
printed, primarily the deposit thickness and the color of the ink. Thicker ink films require a
greater amount of flash-curing time than thinner ink films and darker ink colors require less
time than lighter colors.
Critical control points are the tools, processes, and procedures you must continuously monitor
to ensure consistent quality from run to run. If you ensure that these critical control points are
maintained, you'll be able to meet your desired level of quality and productivity, as well as the
expectations of your customers, even during your busiest production periods.
No matter where printed garments originate, the printing facility should have regular wash-
testing procedures included as part of the production process. And you should know how to
troubleshoot the results if garments fail the wash test. Wash testing must be a standard
operating procedure, because it's the only reliable way to ensure that prints are properly
cured.
If you contract your printing work out, control of production parameters is out of your hands.
Requiring wash-tested samples is an excellent way to get assurance that the facility's curing
methods meet your needs.
Printers feel that they carefully measure and control their dryers to make sure prints are cured
properly. While heat-sensitive tapes, probes, and non-contact pyrometers are excellent tools
for ensuring consistent drying conditions, they don't tell you whether a print is actually cured.
The only insurance you can have that prints are curing properly is for them to survive a wash-
testing procedure.
To understand why wash testing is such an important function, you must consider the
characteristics of printed and cured plastisol ink and how it reacts during the washing process.
When an ink film is cured after printing, the PVC resins in the ink absorb most of the
plasticizers contained in the ink film. However, a small residual amount of the plasticizer
remains unabsorbed after curing. This gives the printed ink film its elasticity and determines
the print's washability.
Each time a garment printed with plastisol is washed; a minute amount of the residual
plasticizer is extracted from the ink film. As this process continues through repeated washings,
the print will inevitability begins to lose its elasticity and will eventually become less flexible.
With thicker ink films, you will begin to see cracking. While it's true that all plastisol prints will
fail over time as plasticizers are drawn out during repeated washings, a good print should
display bright color and resist flaking for dozens of washes.
At the other extreme, having too much plasticizer left in the print, which would indicate that it
was cured insufficiently. With such a print, excess plasticizer would likely lead to ink flaking off
after the first washing. What you want is enough residual plasticizer available to help the print
withstand multiple washings without becoming brittle, but not so much that the print won't
remain adhered to the garment through a single wash cycle.
Critical conditions
PROPER CURING & WASH TESTING
Understanding the ink film
66
The ability of a plastisol print to withstand numerous wash cycles is determined by the
composition of the ink, thickness of the ink film, the amount and type of modifiers added to the
ink and the time and temperature of the curing process to which the ink film was exposed.
Each of these factors must be considered as you adjust the curing process to provide the
ideal level of residual plasticizer in the print.
Results of wash testing will vary with ink type and application. With specialty inks like glitters,
for example, you can expect a noticeable drop in glitter effect after the first washing as loose
glitter flakes at the surface of the ink film are pulled away. But the effect should remain
relatively consistent after subsequent washes if the ink film was properly cured.
Also consider ink thickness, which can cause some misleading results, particularly when
printing on ring-spun cotton garments. With such garments, loose fibers at the surface will
often become exposed after the first washing, raising from thin ink films and dulling the color
of the print. This phenomena, called fibrillation, is often misinterpreted as evidence of
insufficient cure.
But, the ink film isn't being washed away due to insufficient cure, it's simply being interrupted
by protruding garment fibers at the print surface. While you can print thicker ink films that
resist fibrillation better, it's important to understand the substrate's impact on the wash tests so
you can draw the correct conclusions. Another thing to note about thinner ink films is that they
tend to separate more easily when the garment fabric is stretched, particularly when they
comprise halftones or other non-continuous printed areas. This shouldn't be mistaken for
improper cure.
The bottom line is that all garments should be wash tested for several cycles to get a thorough
picture of print performance--I recommend a minimum of five. As with the glitter ink example,
what you are looking for is color and other print characteristics to remain consistent after the
initial washing, without ink cracking or clearly washing out.
Using wash testing to determine whether thicker inks films are properly cured is somewhat
easier than with thin films, because brittleness and wash-out of color is more readily identified.
However, one common mistake that printers make in assessing the cure of thick prints is to
stretch the prints. If cracking or peeling result after excessive stretching, the conclusion is
often improper cure. Typically, these problems have nothing to do with the degree of cure
within the ink film; rather, they involve its natural elasticity--all plastisol inks do not stretch to
the same degree.
Underbased ink films also require scrutiny since you actually have two ink films that must be
properly fused together in order to withstand wear and tear. The most common curing issue
with underbased prints has to do with the way they were flashed. When underbases are
overexposed to heat in the flash-curing unit, they receive a more thorough surface cure. As a
result, colors printed on top of the underbase are unable to bond strongly to this layer when
the print undergoes thorough curing in the dryer. The problem will be easy to see because
these overprinted colors will come off during the first wash-testing cycle.
While wash testing may add a little time to your production process, it will leave you much
more confident as you sign off on jobs for delivery to the customer. A wash-testing routine
should be a regular part of every job you or your contract printers produce, because it's the
only way to make sure you're providing consistent quality and protecting yourself from
diminished returns.
Analyzing garments after wash testing
Positive results from wash testing
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5
CHAPTER 6
BREAKING DOWN A JOB
Proper Cleaning Techniques,
Washing Screens For
Storage Or Reclamation,
Filing Screens And
Inspection Of Screens.
68
Initial clean-up
Final clean-up
Take the squeegee and card (or knife) off the excess ink into the screen, place in a holder if
you have one or into a cleaning pail / container. This can be a 5 gallon pail or a small plastic
tub depending on how much you clean and how big your squeegees or tools are. If the ink
you scoop out of the screen appears to be free of dirt and debris, it can safely be returned to
the original container. Otherwise, you are better off discarding it. Do not put reduced inks or
inks with additives back into the original containers.
The last thing you want is to contaminate your ink supply with foreign dirt and gunk. If you
decide to discard the ink, be careful how you dispose of it. Simply dumping it into a garbage
bag may seem like the easiest solution, but some inks may contain ingredients that are
unwelcome in your local landfill. Be aware of the environmental regulations that govern the
disposal of such substances. Pull the tape from the leading edge you created and all four
sides should lift in succession
The second part of ink clean-up involves getting rid of the rest of the ink. You need two tools
for this job: absorbent material (rags or paper toweling) and a screen wash or wash-up
containing a solvent capable of breaking down the specific type of ink you've been using.
Although the tools are simple, getting the right ones is important. For example, industrial-
grade paper products made especially for press clean-ups, while more expensive, are tougher
and far more absorbent than ordinary paper towels. In the end, you'll use less of them and
your clean-ups will go faster.
A more critical choice is the wash-up you select. The first thing is to be sure to use
a product specifically sold as a screen wash or wash-up. Wash-ups not only
contain a solvent that attacks the ink, but chemicals designed to
break the ink down and neutralize its properties. Don't try
to use thinner in place of a wash-up. Thinners, like wash-
ups, contain solvent, but they lack the emulsifying agents
needed to break down the ink. As a result, they merely
extend the ink without helping to lift it out of the screen. In
fact, the ink may become thin enough to form a
transparent haze but it will still be there. Your ink supplier
should be able to suggest an appropriate wash-up for the
kind of ink you're using.
Some wash-ups and thinners contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When
using them, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and wear protective
equipment. You should also be aware that health and safety and environmental
regulations may apply to the storage and disposal of absorbent materials
saturated with ink and solvents.
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6
CHAPTER 7
PRODUCTION TRACKING
Final Counts, Cleaning Garments,
Misprints, Sample Production Report,
Job Repeatability And Consistency.
70
FINAL COUNTS
Cleaning Garments
Production reports, Job repeatability and Consistency
When all is said and done, the press is being broken down and counts are verified, it's time to
update and finalize your Production Time Sheet. From this point the shirts are being cleaned
and packed.
Every shop should have at least one Spot Cleaning Gun for
the end of the dryer and one in the screen room (for those
really tough stains). As your packing and inspecting shirts
you are going to find ink where it doesnt belong,
fingerprints and smudges, etc. The critical point is
knowing whats worth cleaning and whats a rag.
DO NOT use the gun for cleaning out the whole
design, its time consuming and you waste a lot of
cleaning fluid. Youll lose more trying to clean a design
off than replacing the shirt plus it's a huge waste of
time! Misprints can be used for test prints or given and
worn by yourself to save your good clothes.
Now that youve logged the final count and misprints (see figure 1) make sure the printer has
filled out any problems with the job. This includes breakdowns, pinholes, ripped screens, etc.
If the press stops for less than 3 minutes don't bother logging it, unless that same 3 minutes is
a repetitive problem.
No one likes filling out paperwork but to keep yourself sane and your customers happy GET
IN THE HABIT of filling out your production reports. Nothing is more
embarrassing and damaging than having a repeat customer
expecting the same job they got 6 months earlier with the wrong color
or wrong shirts.
As a screen printer you must maintain records in case the last person
printing the job forgets or they are out. The customer won't be of any
help and you can't blame them, you want to make ordering quick,
painless and profitable. Good record keeping will ultimately benefit
you, your shop and mainly your happy, paying customers.
Production Time Sheet Sample - Next Page
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7
Figure 1.
72
CHAPTER 8
ADDITIONAL TIPS & ADVICE
Inks & Additives, Print Placements,
Blends, Tips To Avoid Halftone
Moir, Tips, Tricks, Marketing,
Successful Sales Calls And Assorted
Production Paperwork
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8
Plastisol composition
At what temperature do inks cure?
How long does it take for inks to cure?
How do I test to make sure my inks are cured?
What temperature and time do Plastisol inks need to " flash" cure?
What happens if I don't cure the ink properly?
Why do I need to " flash" ?
Plastisols are liquid at room temperature and must be heated to approximately 320-330F
internally to reach their maximum physical properties. Plastisol inks are composed of fine
particles of PVC polymers or copolymer resins and a liquid plasticizer. Typical plastisol
formulas will also contain stabilizers, fillers, thickeners and pigments.
The short answer is when the entire ink film thickness reaches its specified cure/fusion
temperature. That temperature is provided on your specific ink's product bulletin. Keep in mind
that thicker ink deposits (e.g., High Density) take more time to reach their specified
cure/fusion temperatures. Faster fusing or low cure inks will reach their fusion or cure
temperatures more quickly than conventional inks.
There is not a single easy answer. Many factors play into how long it takes to completely cure
an ink. Are you using an electric dryer or a gas dryer? Does the print have a thick ink deposit?
Are you printing on T-shirts or fleece? Measuring the ink temperature on the garment, as it
passes through the dryer, is the best way to determine the time it takes for your inks to cure
properly. Remember that it is important that the entire ink film thickness reach the specified
cure/fusion temperature.
A "Wash Test" is the best method. Take a sample print, cut it in half, and wash it 3 to 5 times in
a conventional washing machine with 3 pairs of jeans or towels. Set the washer for 'Hot
Wash/Cold Rinse'. Set the Dryer for 'Cotton/High' and dry for 30 minutes. Complete 3 to 5
wash cycles and compare the "washed" sample to the "unwashed" sample. If you see
cracking of the ink film or ink loss, your inks are likely under-cured.
Most inks will "gel" (flash) when the ink film reaches 220F to 230F (104C to 110C). There
are 3 factors that affect the "gel" or "flash" of the ink: the temperature of the flash, the distance
of the flash from the printed image, and the time the printed image is exposed to the heat. As
a rule, you want to flash the ink film until it is just "dry to the touch". Over-flashing inks may
cause adhesion problems and make the inks very "tacky". Check your flash cure unit to see if
it has temperature and airflow controls. This usually figures to be approx setting if the flash os
at 3-4 above the garment (sweats 5-6), for 8-10 seconds. Some alterations may be needed
Many things, none of them good! Typical problems that arise from improperly cured inks
include: ink washing off the garments, cracking of the ink film, loss of color, and bleeding of
the garment color(s) into the ink film.
There are several reasons. Flashing enables you to print one coat of ink on top of another -
e.g., a color on a white base. You also might flash an ink to keep wet ink off the back of your
screens. Some inks, such as glitters, metallic and high densities, are not designed to be
printed "wet-on wet". They should be "flashed" when printing in sequence.
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Can I cure inks with a flash cure unit?
How do I know if the inks are cured properly?
How do you measure ink temperature?
Plastisol Modifiers
Pigment
Curable reducer
Viscosity increaser
Plastisol Bases
Although not recommend it is true you might be able to get the ink hot enough, a flash cure
unit is not a good substitute for a properly operating dryer. Using just a flash cure, you could
easily overheat the film surface yet under-cure the rest of your ink film. To ensure a proper
cure it's highly recommended you use a thermal Ray-Gun to measure ink temperature.
Your printed garments pass the wash test! (See above - "How do I test to make sure my inks
are cured") Another test is to firmly grip a part of the print and stretch it, if it cracks youre
under curing. Another simple test is to scratch the surface of the ink, if it rolls off like clay
youre under curing. If the ink flakes off like powder you're over curing.
There are 2 basic and easy-to-use temperature measurement devices you can use. First, a
thermal "Ray-Gun" can be used to measure the surface temperature of a printed garment as it
exits the dryer or flash cure. All you have to do is point the gun at the garment as it comes out
of the dryer. The second is a "Thermo-Probe" which can be placed in the "wet" ink film or on
the garment to measure real-time temperatures as it passes through the dryer. Recording
those temperatures at say, five second intervals, will give you a good profile on how well your
dryer is working. You may be surprised with the results.
Determines the color and the opacity of the ink. Higher pigment load yields a
brighter ink color on dark fabrics. When pigment exceeds the quantity of binder, crocking will
occur. Crocking is a loss of pigmentation caused by the lack of binder, which holds the
pigment in an ink film.
Viscosity can be reduced with curable reducer for more penetration of the
fabric. This will change brightness in color with the more reducer that is added.
Viscosity can be increased with Thickening Powder.
Softhand Base Can be used as an additive for premixed colors to soften and extend the ink.
Process Clear Extender base for Process colors.
Glitter Clear Low viscosity transparent extender base, used for glitter and metallic.
Opaque Base Extender base with maximum opacity.
Clear Base Clear flash-cure base, also used for gel prints.
Stretch Additive Can be used for athletic numbering and Lycra.
Puff Base For mixing pastel puff colors.
Puff Concentrate High concentration Puff Base for deeper puff colors and suede effects.



75
INKS
Ink types
PLASTISOLS, FABRIC INKS or DYES
VINYL, COROPLAST, ACRYLIC, Etc.
Inks used in screen printing are more varied and complex than most other printing processes
because of the wide range of different materials a modern screen printer can print on.
Basically, inks are made up of a carrier, which is a thick clear liquid, plus finely ground
pigments for color and different thinners used to make the ink flow. (J ob number 1 for any ink
is to stick to the substrate, and it follows that due to the many different materials screen
printers have to print, and their different molecular make-ups. There are a large assortment of
different ink TYPES, manufactured by many different manufacturers, specifically designed to
bond to various plastics, papers, glass, metal, or whatever you are trying to print.) Many
manufacturers produce a multi-purpose ink that will work well on a range of different materials.
Manufacturers produce inks in LINES that are based on the thinning and drying
characteristics of the ingredients used in the clear resin or binder which makes up the bulk of
the ink. Solvent-based, water-based, plastisols and UV inks are the most common lines, and
within the lines, different TYPES of inks are produced to print on different substrates.
A COLOR SYSTEM unique to each manufacturer is common, with the colors having different
names and code numbers, available in each of the manufacturers' lines and types of ink.
SPECIAL FORMULATION inks, which include glitters, reflective, adhesives, or PMS mixtures.
These inks are usually supplied by specialized manufacturers, or formulated by the user.
In general, ink types and a list of their applications are provided on color cards by
manufacturers and their suppliers. The golden rule of inks is the TEST if you are unsure if the
ink will stick on a specific material. The best idea when dealing with a material you have not
printed before is to give it to your supplier to test on, so they can recommend what type of ink
to use. This saves buying ink that doesn't work.
Also, every ink manufacturer and supplier is covered by a disclaimer. This means the ultimate
responsibility lies with the user when it comes to suitability. So don't go whining when your
biggest customer phones up and says the ink is falling off the decals you just printed. In most
cases, plastics give the most problems. There is a world of difference between polyurethane
and polyethylene, PVC and acrylic
Some Common Types of ink:
Used on textiles, transfers, hats, sweatshirts, jackets (with catalyst)
Specific inks for specific material usually contain thinners that bond or bite into the substrate.
Usually solvent based.
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INKS (CONT.)
ENAMEL
LACQUER
EPOXY or 2-COMPONENT
FLOCK ADHESIVE
INK LINES
PLASTISOLS
SOLVENT BASED
WATER BASED
Slow drying, but high gloss, and very durable on wood or display signage.
Solvent based, air dry.
Fast drying, glossy, and used on paper, over lacquer finishes, or for the production of
waterslide decals. Holds excellent detail. Solvent based, air dry.
Used on glass or metal, sometimes fired or heated to set.
Used on fabrics, flocking and athletic prints.
Each type of ink listed above will probably require specific THINNERS and RETARDERS.
Most are SOLVENT BASED. Some need special clean-up liquids as well as different emulsion
(dcm).
Most suppliers will provide a manufacturer's line card with all their different types, applications,
and color ranges available. Some different manufacturers' inks will intermix with others, but be
very careful and TEST a small amount first.
In some cases, an ink line is also a type, such as PLASTISOL, which is used
almost exclusively to print fabric and heat transfers. In most cases, the ink lines of a particular
manufacturer are classified by how they cure or dry.
Used in T-shirt printing, these inks cure by heat setting at a certain temperature for a specific
time. This is carried out by a flash-cure unit or by passing through a tunnel dryer. Partially
cured plastisol inks are used to create heat transfers for shirts and hats.
All solvent based inks, which up until a few years ago included almost all the ink types, dry by
solvent evaporation. The pigments and resins harden as the solvents evaporate into the air.
Most of these liquids are volatile, flammable organic solvents, and are rapidly being replaced
because of environmental and workplace safety concerns. In many cases they are the only
inks that will stick to certain materials, and continue to be used. Adequate ventilation systems
or respirators should be worn when using solvent based inks and cleaners.
Water based inks thin with water, clean up with water, and evaporate off mostly water when
they dry. They produce VERY LITTLE ODOR and make for a pleasant printing environment.
They have been gaining in popularity over the last few years, but require better stencils and
more attention to humidity, temperature, and other shop parameters to work properly. -They
also have a more narrow TYPE range and don't bond well to many materials. Waterbase
fabric inks require heat setting for a full cure.

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INKS (CONT.)
COLOR
PROCESS AND HALFTONES
PANTONE (PMS)
MIXING COLOR
TINTS or CONCENTRATES
CUSTOM COLORS
SUBLIMATION DYES
HALFTONE BASE or EXTENDER
Ink color is determined by the manufacturer, based on their ink formulas. Usually, the inks are
opaque colors in a wide range that gives the printer a choice of yellows, blues, reds, and so
on. The inks can be intermixed to produce more shades.
Process color inks for CYMK are produced in addition to the regular colors, and are specially
formulated for half-tone printing. They are usually semi-transparent and maintain a pasty
consistency. Meant for wet-on-wet printing.
Many manufacturers produce ink colors to match the Pantone Matching System (PMS), which
is used by designers and offset printers to specify colors and provide mixing formulas to
achieve those colors from a basic color range. Other manufacturers have come up with their
own color system and provide base colors, formulas, and color chips.
When mixing color, start with a small amount in a container and determine if the component
colors will give you the desired color before mixing large amounts. Also, always start light and
mix darker, not the other way around.
Many manufacturers provide concentrated color that will mix with various inks or clear base to
provide extended color matching.
These are not true inks, mostly comprised of pigments, and if they are not mixed properly
with an ink base, they may not dry.
Custom mixed colors with specific formulas are available from many manufacturers for a fee.
This is useful in ongoing corporate work where colors must match from job to job.
Many colors dry darker once printed, and can also change shade depending on the substrate,
the mesh count, and the amount of thinners or base added to the ink. Always pretest when
color matching is critical.
These inks are printed backwards on paper, and when positioned on a synthetic material and
heat and pressure are applied, the pigments in the ink turn to a gas and dye the surface of the
substrate. Keyboards on computers and phones use this method, as well as lycra sports
clothing manufacturers. Because the dye actually enters the material (sublimates) instead of
just sitting on top, this produces a very durable image.
These additives thin the ink without making the ink runnier. They can be used to reduce
opacity and color density, stretch coverage, (way cheaper than an equivalent container of
colored ink) or lessen the tack (stickiness) of the ink while maintaining the viscosity.
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INKS (CONT.)
PRINTABLE ADHESIVES
TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE (Thermo chromatic)
THINNERS AND ADDITIVES
THINNERS
RETARDERS
BINDER or BRONZE BINDER
METALLIC and other POWDERS
FLOW AGENTS
HARDENERS
Liquid adhesives are printed in place on various materials, used for heavy glitters, heat sealed
foils and allowing precision assembly of parts in the industrial section of printing.
These inks contain elements that change color once they are subjected to heat or cold.
Novelty cups, clothing, and some scientific testing instruments are produced this way.
Most inks are not usable right out of the can. Manufacturers supply various additives for each
type of ink, so the printer can adjust the viscosity (thickness and flow) and print characteristics
of the ink for specific jobs.
These mix with the ink and reduce the viscosity. They can also extend the coverage of the ink
by increasing the overall volume.
Similar to thinners, but designed to slow the drying of the ink to allow for fine detail printing, or
when temperature, humidity, or print speed cause ink to dry in the open areas of the stencil,
used in vinyl's, lacquers and coroplast inks.
This is a clear ink and is used to print metallic or other specialized pigments, which are
supplied in powder form and mixed into the binder. NOTE: When using binders and powders,
mix the powder with a small amount of thinner, and then mix with the binder. This avoids
clumping. Normally this process is used on flat stock.
A wide range of powdered additives ranging from aluminum and bronze, pearlescent colors,
glow-in-the-dark, etc., can be mixed with binders or colored inks.
Similar to thinners, these liquids assist the ink to pass through the stencil and finish up
smoothly on the substrate. Commonly associated and used with water based inks.
These are added to certain inks to allow them to stick better to slick materials, or in the case
of two component inks, they are the catalyst that sets off the hardening process.
Once hardeners are added to inks, they have a limited working time and unused ink must be
discarded.
79
TIPS & TIDBITS
In general, inks can vary in quality from manufacturer to manufacturer. Cheaper inks usually
mean less pigment, or coarser pigment, or less outdoor durability. Ink prices also vary greatly
from color to color. A quart of black might cost $24, whereas a specific blue could be $45. This
is due to the cost of the minerals and chemicals that make up the pigment for the particular
color.
It's not advisable to intermix different ink types, although it's quite possible to mix one
manufacturer's poster ink with another. TEST FIRST. Always label mixed inks from a print run
with type, job, and color if they are not in their original container. Use metal cans for solvent
base, plastic is OK for water base.
All inks should be stored with their cover firmly attached as this will protect the ink from drying
out.
Thinners and retarders should be labeled and capped at all times. NEVER put solvents in an
unlabelled container, and NEVER in a container that was used for drinking. (Old pop bottle,
etc.)
As most inks and thinners are flammable, they should be stored in a metal locker, and kept
away from open flame or excessive heat.
Compile Safety Data Sheets on all inks and thinners, and keep handy in a binder. Suppliers
and manufacturers will provide this on request.
Avoid mixing thinned ink left over from a run in with pure stock. It's always better to use
another container to store the mix, and then try to use it up on other jobs.
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ADDITIONAL PRINTING TIPS
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ADDITIONAL PRINTING TIPS (CONT.)
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ADDITIONAL PRINTING TIPS (CONT.)
Blends (Fountain Fills)
Simple Tips to Avoid Halftone Moir in Garment Printing
Blends (also know as fountain fills) have been around for 20 plus
years and like most techniques come and go like fashions.
Beautiful in color and simple in execution with a few standard rules,
the colors are limited by your imagination and patience.
1. NEVER put more than a few prints worth of ink into the screen
to keep the blend manageable. Any more and after 2 prints you'll
have a screen full of mud.
2. Mix your colors at the bottom using a stroke until the colors
are blended THEN pull the print slowly until AFTER you cover your
design letting up on the pressure at the end. DO NOT pick up the
squeegee or the colors will string into each other and give you stark
streaks in the next image.
3. Your ink reservoir should be behind a squeegee rest, this way
you can pull up color as needed. Never reduce colors as they will
blend together easier ruining the effect after a few prints.
4. Remember to experiment and don't get discouraged if you don't get it right the first time.
These tips are to put you ahead of the competition by offering what others have forgotten
about or are too lazy to try.
One of the easiest ways to avoid Moire is to use the Flemenco style of single angle spot
(halftone alignment) when printing out films. What is the Flemenco method?
Printing in the Flemenco style accepts up to 40% press gain without the loss of detail or the
corruption of color due to Tonwertzuwachs (dot gain). The reason is that there is a lot more
room between each spot (halftone) allowing for the physical gain of the ink that eventually
increases tonality and color. With a rosette pattern the space between each spot is greatly
reduced due to the angle shifting. Since screen print presses are high saturation devices that
top out around 33% Flemenco style printing never over gains allowing for very deep clean
runs with little to no downtime.
Rosette printing has trouble with as little as 15% dot gain. Print your Spot Process and all
other separations (even cmyk) using single angles to improve your prints. It is even advised
that you print your color prints for a color LASER printer using Flemenco. A simple test with a
CMYK file at 55 lines screen, one as Flemenco and the other as standard rosette angles will
prove it all.
This becomes even easier when using Accurip, as it already prints in Flemenco style by
default.
83
If you are printing halftones with a rosette pattern, one thing you can count on is moir. No
matter how careful you are the dreaded patterns will appear in your prints. Months may pass
without moir problems, but then you will get hit with a slew of images in which moir seems
uncontrollable. You can take steps to greatly reduce the occurrence of moir in your prints.
Here are the simple tips you can use to help keep moir from happening:
A critical beginning point upon which everything else is built. If you are not consistent,
systematic and organized in your approach to printing, you will experience moir as you would
with other typical problems. Keep track of everything, eventually you will be able to narrow the
variables you have to look for. There is no substitute for good records and organization. Keep
copies of the sheet on clipboards posted in the art department, the screen room and near the
press. When moir occurs, record every detail about the current job. The organization of data
will allow you to identify patterns and the written record will make it easy to spot similar
circumstances that might be responsible for the moir.
When producing halftone images, keep all production variables constant. Use the same set of
halftone angles each time you do the same type of work. Use the same line count, use mesh
with the same mesh count and thread diameter from the same vendor. If you randomly
substitute variables, you lose all control of where you are going. Standardizing your process is
critical in helping to identify the problem areas that lead to moir.
Most printers work from the assumption that the materials they work with have accurate
specifications. RIPs that drive many image setters and inkjets will override specified angle
settings, as will many design programs. It's important to verify all halftone angles with a
protractor or angle determiner. Be very wary of all your materials and tools. It is strongly
suggested you personally verify all values and tolerances for yourself before you move
forward in using that set of parameters as your standard.
Mesh-dot-ratio is the ratio of mesh threads to halftone dots. Over the years there have been
all kinds of theories about what this ratio should be, most commonly 4:1 or 3.5:1. In truth, this
is just another example of something you shouldn't believe. Relationships like mesh-to-dot
ratio only serve as a guide because there are so many factors that influence them. Your best
course of action is always to select the highest possible mesh count and lowest possible
halftone line count in an effort to maximize the ratio (example; 55 line 305 mesh) The fact is:
the higher the ratio, the less chance for moir to occur.
By making these choices, you seek to minimize interference between the halftone dot opening
in the stencil and the mesh thread. Another fact is: the finer the thread, the less chance of
interference. There is a compromise, however. As the thread gets
thinner, the ability of that mesh count to sustain higher printing tensions is reduced.
Generally speaking, it is most desirable to seek finer threads (sometimes referred to as S
thread) for any given mesh count. Some favorite mesh-count/thread diameter combinations
are 305 threads/inch with a 34-micron thread diameter, 380threads/inch with a 30-micron
thread diameter and 420 threads/inch with a 27-micron thread diameter. It is important that all
of these meshes be specified as plain weave.
1. Always be consistent, systematic and organized.
2. Work from a constant set of values.
3. Never assume what you have is correct.
4. A halftone line count and mesh that gives the highest mesh-to dot ratio.
5. Choose the mesh with the highest percent open area and thinnest thread possible.
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6. When using direct emulsion, maintain 8 to 12 microns emulsion over mesh.
7. Use pre-registration board to align positives to screens.
8. Maintain full positive to screen contact with correct exposure.
The amount of emulsion-over-mesh (EOM) is critical for assuring a fully formed halftone dot. If
the EOM is less than 8 microns, it is not possible to form a stencil edge that properly gaskets
the image area during printing, so the resulting printed dot will be improperly formed. The ink
will hang in the mesh. Higher EOMs require higher mesh tension to promote complete ink
transfer. Use a dual cure photopolymer/diazo emulsion with at least 45 percent solids. Coat
this emulsion with a dull side of your scoop coater; two passes wet-on-wet on the print side
followed immediately with two passes wet-on-wet on the squeegee side. Dry it with the print
side down. When you expose and wash out the stencil, you should be able to just feel the
edge of the emulsion against the mesh.
When transferring your halftone image from the positive to the mesh, you must ensure the
halftone angle is accurate and relative to the orientation of mesh threads. You
can accomplish this by maintaining physical stops for the screen and using pre- registration
board to accurately position the positive relative to the screen. If you are simply eyeballing the
positive's position, you sacrifice accuracy. Using stops and pre-registration systems ensures
accurate image position on the screen - Accuracy counts!
Full contact/vacuum of the film to the screen is necessary to avoid undercutting during
exposure. The biggest danger during exposure is overexposure. This can result in the
undesirable scatter of light, which also leads to undercutting of the positive, as well as ragged
formation of halftone dots. Additionally, overexposure can close up fine dots or change the
size of the dots as they are exposed on the screen. This makes it impossible to determine at
which dot or tonal percentage moir is occurring. You can ensure good exposure by using an
Exposure Calculator as this allows for accurate compensation if the light intensity or light
distance changes.
Simple tips to help you overcome moir, these are the ones that address the most common
and frequent sources of moir. A final thought, I stress the importance of being consistent,
systematic and organized in your work. There are simply too many changing variables to
approach halftone screen printing with a hit-or-miss attitude.
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RYONET SCREEN PRINTING TECHNICAL SERVICES
SCREENS
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Screens, Set-up & Printing
Problem
When coating screens emulsion is too
thick, chunky and drips.
When washing out a screen the squeegee
side feels very slimy, the emulsion puckers
then peels.
After washing the screen there are holes in
the emulsion surrounding the design?
The screen breaks down and/or pinholes
develop mid-production.
The screen has halos or spots in the
emulsion that are lighter in color and
usually circular, interfering with art or
breaking down.
When making the first print with new
screens there are streaks in design that
won't print although the design appeared
completely open.
Screens take a long time to dry and/or
sticky.
After exposing screen and processing the
image appears but doesn't wash out
completely or at all. Even with high
pressure.
When reclaiming, even with proper
chemicals the design will not wash out,
even using a pressure washer.
Possible Solution
Coat in thinner applications, use sharper blade on coater. Coat
thin, dry, coat again for a stronger stencil. Make good positive
contact with the scoop coater and the screen.
Increase the exposure time, the stronger side of the screen is
where the light contacts first. A good exposure will eliminate the
slime and yield a stronger screen.
Always clean the glass to the exposure unit prior to burning a
screen, check for scratches on glass. Make sure your darkroom is
clean, as dust in the mesh during coating may cause pinholes.
After the screen has been washed, touched-up
and dried it's highly recommended to expose the
screen again or place in the sun for 5 minutes.
Oil from fingers, dirt and contaminants can leave rings or halos
in your coating. These will lead to bad edge definition, premature
breakdowns.
After exposing and washing if the exposure time wasn't correct
and the emulsion feels slimy when the screen
is set on end the slime drips into the design and blocks the open
areas.
Humidity affects screens greatly; a de-humidifier will dry screens
quickly and completely.
The film positive may not be dark enough, double your films,
check your printer settings, use a RIP or the screen may have
been exposed to excessive room light.
Improper exposure times (underexposing) will lock in the
emulsion. Using a higher power pressure washer will damage the
mesh. The screen will need to be re-stretched
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SET-UP
Cant Find Your Answer? Call Us 1-800-314-6390
Problem
When lining up a multicolor job the designs
colors are burnt in odd locations, some fit
while others won't.
The front of the screen is higher than the
back or one side is higher than the other.
When making a test print the ink leaks
from the sides of the screen.
While lining screens to the master
positive/print on a test piece some screens
won't line up.
The design fits on one pallet but looks too
high or low on another pallet.
While the screen is in the print position it
moves left to right excessively or is not
seated properly.
After the arm is seated properly the screen
still moves left to right excessively.
When lining another screen the head
wants to pull to one side and is difficult
getting it to seat.
When lining up a multicolor job the designs
colors are burnt in odd locations, some fit
while others won't.

Possible Solution
Make sure when burning multi-color films to use
Pre-registration board or device. Zero out all the machines
registration systems (micro-adjustment/joystick.)
The print heads need adjustment. Refer to press instructions,
bigger presses have adjustment points, screen may be warped.
Always tape the inside perimeter of the screen, tape along the
outside of the screen as an added precaution.
Trying to force dry a screen under extreme heat will damage the
mesh and frame (if it's wood). In some cases the design will
shrink, avoid high heat drying.
Prior to any production always zero out the press. Measuring all
the pallets to ensure equal distance from bottom of pallet to the
registration gate.
The pitch of the screen causes the front to touch the pallet first.
Adjust pitch until screen sits flat upon pallet and arm is seated in
registration gate.
Check the registration bolts to make sure they are snug and
locked with the lock nut while the head is seated properly.
Make sure the opposing print heads are not down; only certain
machines are manufactured an All heads down printer.
Make sure when burning multi-color films to use
Pre-registration board or device. Zero out all the machines
registration systems (micro adjustment/joystick.)
87
PRINTING
Cant Find Your Answer? Call Us 1-800-314-6390
Problem
Incomplete print image. Streaks in print or
middle fading out, rough finish.
Incomplete print image. One side keeps
hanging in the screen, deposits uneven.
Incomplete print image. Stencil emulsion
too thick for type of image and/or viscosity
of printing inks.
Incomplete print image. Ink too thick to be
completely drawn out of screen image as
screen lifts off substrate behind squeegee
on print stroke.
Incomplete print image. Ink has dried in
screen and is blocking flow through part of
image (Common with solvent and water-
base inks).
Image was not washed out correctly when
screen was made.
Screen is breaking down, film used to
make screen was not dense enough to
prevent light getting through, weakening
image in stencil.
Lines of artwork too fine for type of screen
used.
Print area incorrectly positioned, has
overrun edge or won't line up properly.
Incomplete print image, perhaps with a
heavy deposit of ink in places.
Incomplete print image with very light
deposit.
Print image becomes incomplete, after
starting of print run it was satisfactory.
Print image missing at one end (or the
other) but print quality is satisfactory.
Print image missing both sides.

Possible Solution
Turn blade around, sharpen or renew blade. Squeegee not
parallel with screen. Squeegee edge is not flat.
Minimum squeegee width is 10 mm or 1 to 2 extra on each side
of screen image. Make sure to have even pressure on both sides
of the squeegee.
Use recommended screen mesh with thinner coating or
change to less viscous ink (see below).
Adjust off-contact and slow your print speed down or adding
curable reducer in small quantity, until suitable consistency is
obtained. Change mesh count as last resort.
Use recommended drying retarder instead of thinner, after
removing screen and cleaning it. Keep screen flooded in both
cases.
Rub with damp cloth or remake screen using fine spray to wash
out image area thoroughly. Blot dry to remove water.
Create new artwork with clean-edged solid lines and areas to
block off light COMPLETELY.
Make new screen using recommended mesh for fine details.
If screen positioning controls will not correct (J oystick/mico), the
image is wrongly placed on screen: correct position is central and
equal distance from sides of frame.
Increase pressure in small steps until good impression is
obtained.
Off contact (print gap) is too large. Set screen-to-substrate gap
correctly. Ink may be too thick or change the angle on your
squeegee.
If the is blade not properly in contact with screen during flood
stroke, poor distribution of ink supply lessens coverage and
consistency.
Length of print stroke too short. Print the entire image so that
squeegee is not lifted off screen until a minimum of 2 past end of
image area.
Squeegee too narrow. Minimum squeegee width 1.5 to 2 past
end of image area.
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PRINTING (CONT.)
Summary
In a relatively dust-free, light safe environment, degrease, dry, coat, dry flat, coat again, dry,
expose, wash-out, blot dry, block-out, expose again and tape screen. Now set-up your job and GO
PRINT. Screen printing is a series of events that follows one after the other to complete a print,
shortcuts can be made but a sequence has to be followed.
With proper techniques, tools, training and documentation you can fix, figure and eventually
foresee any problem that may arise. There is a saying Garbage in, garbage out. This is true with
most anything, although screen printing can be done with a minimum of tools and money it takes
quality. Starting with good art, good screens, good ink, good techniques and good documentation this
will yield a good product.
Take the time to learn, be patient and WATCH your results at each stage. I talk a lot about
writing and documenting results, this builds consistency. Consistency builds quality and quality builds
customer satisfaction. Screen printing is 75% preparation and 25% production and a successful
business is a 100% satisfaction.
Problem
Missing parts of print or nick in successive
prints, after satisfactory start to print run.
Print image out of register.
Print smudged or ink spreads at bottom of
design. Off contact is too close or the
squeegee is resting on open image
allowing ink to gather there.
Print smudged or ink spreads at bottom of
design (Continued:)
Print image has serrated edges.
Poor definition at edges of image
particularly at rear edge of each deposit
with ink deposit thin.
Poor definition at edges of image with
heavy ink deposit.
Printing ink does not take properly to
substrates or washes off, cracks, etc.
Ink spreads and/or bleeds after printing.
Shirt sticks to screen / Flat stock sticks to
screen.

Possible Solution
Lint, dust and particles. Raise the screen and wipe underside of
screen before continuing; make sure to snap (shake) shirts clean
before loading.
Screen not accurately aligned over shirt Screen isn't properly
locked in registration gate or mesh may be too loose, replace.
Squeegee-to-screen gap too small. Increase off contact until
screen peels away from substrate immediately behind squeegee.
Strands of mesh from damaged screen are hanging down from
the frame and dragging across the print area. Check and remove.
Screen mesh too coarse or stencil emulsion is too thin. Change to
screen with finer mesh or change to a thicker emulsion coating.
Squeegee pressure too heavy. Reduce squeegee pressure in
small steps until good print is obtained, then increase pressure
slightly.
Off contact too high, reduce screen-to-substrate gap until problem
clears.
Proper inks, check for total cure.
(330 Degrees) Goods might have contaminated printing surface
(waterproofing, starches).
Screen mesh too coarse for type of printing ink and type of image
(example: some gold inks for fine-line conductor work) and/or
improper cure.
Shirt is not held down by table adhesive (Spray-tac).
Flat stock isn't registered correctly or not held by grippers and
vacuum.
89
MARKETING TIPS
Gorilla Marketing Tips for the Beginning Screen Printer
Start Simple, Start Small
Understand Postal Regulations
Starting Somewhere is Better Than Doing Nothing
(Or How to get my company name in their hands and on their minds )
For printers, the main attraction of offering mailing services in addition to standard services is
the prospect of increasing profit margins and creating a new customer base. These services,
in turn, provide customers with reduced project time requirements, less errors, and more
individualized attention.
The mailing process can appear to be a daunting task. Many printers have avoided this end of
the business for a variety of reasons. Some have been put off by the apparent complexity of
the postal regulations. Others have been reluctant to make the time investment to become
familiar with the requisite hardware and software. Still others have been concerned with
straying from their core mission, printing t-shirts.
While these reasons may have been justified in the past, a great deal has changed. Most
customers like feeling something in their hands versus staring at a computer screen for an
additional few minutes reading your mailer. Bringing the mailing process in-house is not an
effort to enter a whole new market segment, but rather a way to offer added value to existing
customers, while also feeling out additional customers by offering hard mail and email
solicitation.
Start with easy mailingssmall numbers of uncomplicated pieces, such as postcards. Before
trying out your new capabilities on a client's dime, it is best to begin with your own business.
Post office standards require 200 pieces to qualify for discount rates. Print a set, apply the
postage, and send them to an in-house list to make sure they are accepted and reach their
destinations.
Printers entering into the mailing process for the first time should have a minimal
understanding of the postal regulations governing standard-class mailings, also known as bulk
mailings, emailing information is much easier to do and even easier to delete. Mailing
software facilitates the process, taking on much of the burden to comprehend each regulation
and its nuances. Still, it is critical to have a grasp of how the post office treats each class of
mail.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides support and training to those printers that
want to incorporate mailing into their business. First-class mail is on the decline, and
standard-class mail is on the upswing. The post office is eager to offer its expertise to ensure
standard-class mailings are handled properly, utilize the USPS' online assistance, as well as
classes on how to produce and handle standard-class mailings. This is for YOUR business
and success!!
By keeping the "start simple, start small" guidelines in mind, the development of an effective
mail fulfillment program can be an economical and successful venture. Implementing an
efficient mailing offering with a manageable cost structure is just a few steps away.
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MARKETING TIPS (CONT.)
The guidelines and steps presented can work just as effectively whether you are a small
printer or a huge entity printing millions of pieces in a single run. They can also exist
independently or in conjunction, depending on the types of applications you want to provide.
It is important to qualify what tools and equipment are necessary to fulfill your customers'
needs. By starting small and simple, it is possible to maximize customer service and profit
margins, while keeping cost and complications down.
The Successful Sales Call
What Are You Selling?
Step 1 - Identify & Analyze the Customer
Begin with the right frame of mind, which means understanding what you're selling and not
just screen printing! What you're selling is image, memories, brands, souvenirs, security and
advertisements. You'll walk into the prospect's office and say Would you like to see a product
that can enhance your company image, it's cost effective, promotes your business and
advertises your name, all in one package and it never expires? You may change the delivery,
but the intent is the key.
In order to increase your chances at being
successful in the sales, you need to develop a
method and process for making the sale. The
process looks like this:
The Sales Process
- Identify & Analyze The Customer
- Determine the Customers Needs
- Planning The Sales Presentation
- Making The Presentation
- Ask for a Deposit
- Following-up
The process begins by carefully selecting your prospective client, that's one of the unique
things about screen printing; everyone's a potential customer, so you have a huge selection of
prospects to choose from. Start by identifying a group of related customers, rather than just
one prospect at a time. Example: Car dealers, landscapers, plumbers, etc.

In this way, you will be spending your time developing a single sales presentation that can be
used multiple times. The next step is to profile the group as well as the individuals within the
group.
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MARKETING TIPS (CONT.)
Step 2 - Determine the Customers Needs
Step 3 Planning the Sales Presentation
Step 4 Making the Presentation
Customers are different, when it comes to sales you need to focus on this. These differences
can make or break your efforts to reach a given group of people. By grouping people based
on their shared characteristics, you'll have a better understanding of their needs and define
their buying habits.
Once you know the customer base you're going after it's time to do a little research, to
adequately plan your sales presentation. Learn everything you can about the customer,
knowledge is power. Realize that your customer might not be the final end-use; they may be
a gift store, attraction, etc. You may need to research your customer's customer in order to
target them correctly.
After you have identified your customers, analyze your customers. Make some observations
and do some research. Use this information to create a list of attributes that describes the
target customer.
Take your customer attribute / analyze list and think of every possible item and/or service you
could sell to this customer. Create a second list and review it for practicality. Now develop
some real product ideas and possible designs as well.
Once you are comfortable with your choices, decide what you will need to take to show the
customer. It's not practical to take everything on your list, so choose carefully the most
important items, be prepared to show catalog pictures. Mark the pages you wish to show for
easy reference. (Make sure the manufacturers name, wholesale prices and contact
information are not visible, most distributors have generic catalogs.)
Along with sample garments, merchandise ideas and catalogs, develop a price strategy. It's
much more effective having the ability to quote while showing samples. Plan ahead and have
a a printed price sheet to go with your samples.
Once all the merchandise is chosen, write down scenarios and scripts that will be presented.
The goal is to reach a prospective client's head and plant a need for printed products.
Determine how to put a spin on the products being sold by taking an ordinary item and
turning it into a must have product. Develop a script and rehearse it, assemble your sales kit
to have everything that you need to make the presentation, then practice.
During the actual sales meeting, opinions of your capabilities (good or bad) are going to be
formed very quickly. Most potential customers won't have time to talk endlessly, identify this
early on and present accordingly. Bridge the gap between friend and stranger right from the
start. The sooner this is accomplished, the quicker a friendly meeting ground is established,
which increases your chances of making a sale.
It's important to find common ground between seller and buyer immediately, how? Most
people surround themselves with mementos and trophies of their lifestyle in the office
environment. After the initial greeting take notice of the customer's space, quickly analyze it
to learn more about the person and then play on these characteristics. Find a commonality
then share it during the opening conversation to quickly break the ice.
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MARKETING TIPS (CONT.)
Step 5 Ask For a Deposit
Step 6 - Following-up
Smoothly move into the sales presentation, it's important to take the lead from the start and
stay in control throughout the presentation. Being prepared for questions and issues is the
best method for maintaining control. Since pricing is usually the area that is most contested
and breeds anxious moments, here are a few tips to deal with the subject.
Stand firmly behind your pricing, everyone plays the price game so be prepared to back the
pricing. Stammering or thinking over a price quote, will trigger the customer in trying to get a
lower number. If price becomes a major issue, never allow the customer to think they
manipulated you into a lower selling price. Don't immediately offer the price reduction to close
a sale; instead respond with let me check with the suppliers for a better price. The price
reduction has now been shifted to another cause, although it may have to be absorbed by the
seller if the customer doesn't budge.
Keep the presentation exciting, informative and as short as possible. Convince the customer
they can't do without the products being offered; make them necessities, not a useless
expense as most can be written off as advertising. During the presentation always keep an
eye on the customer and try to gauge their responses. Human analysis and body language
are important tools, it's essential to learn how to read people and respond to them. Push the
sale as far as possible, be prepared to back off when necessary, but not too far.
This must be done tactfully, so as not to offend the customer. Carefully lead them into an
ordering situation like. I suggest you start with 48 shirts in the following size increments
Which colors appeal to you? The hot colors this year are... Start writing quotes while leading
the customer through the different items that are being offered, finish the total and offer a
completion date.
The total order comes to $$$$ and we can deliver that to you next Thursday. This gives the
appearance that the deal is already done, without being to overbearing. If the customer
doesn't order there are still notes and prices for a follow-up phone call that will be quick and
easy.
The selling process doesn't end with the meeting, remember to follow-up. There may not be
an order in-hand; this is an open door to pursue the customer further. Don't let the opportunity
pass by, check back within a reasonable amount of time with additional information and/or
products.
In the event there is an order placed and fulfilled make sure to check back periodically in
hopes of continuing the relationship on a long-term basis. Many customers won't take the
time to call you back for a reorder, they are waiting for contact.
Selling a product you produce can be fun and exciting, pump yourself up before every
meeting and put your entire mind and body into it. Don't get discouraged if you don't close
every sale, It's the nature of the game.
When you do close a really great sale and the customers pleased it results in a tremendous
feeling of self-satisfaction and accomplishment. The feeling pushes you to achieve higher
sales, better products and of course, it helps your bank account in the end.
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MARKETING TIPS (CONT.)
Selling to a Campsite / Daycare / Landscaper / Plumber / Repair Co. etc
Identify & Analyze The Customer
Here is a sales scenario as a loose example:
The Woodlands Camping Center has 100 open Motor home sites, 50 cabins that are filled
during the summer months (short term) and 20 year-round residences. The Campsite
provides services and has a camp store. It's located outside a historic village, which is a
major tourist attraction.
What are the possibilities? Let's determine what the client might be interested in and what
type of spin or angle we can pitch. People with large Motor homes tend to have large
pocketbooks and large egos'. They like to be waited on. So, a good clean image is a must.
When a high-dollar Motor home pulls up for $300.00 worth of fuel, food and drinks they don't
want to be met by a ragtag bunch of attendants in t-shirts and cutoff jeans.
They expect a professional staff that can assist them with the fueling and check-in process.
The quickest way to put that image in the Campers head is the visual appearance of the staff.
Matching polo shirts and caps with the Camp Logo is the perfect solution. (Don't forget, that
headwear with a bill is a must on a hot summer day.)
Another spin on the uniform angle is security. Most owners would get suspicious and nervous
about strangers hanging out; the employee uniform takes on the roll of identification for
security purposes. Those who were once strangers are now identified as Campsite Staff.
Also it makes it easier for the Camper and their family to find assistance. Upon entering the
camper can be told we're here to take care of your needs. When you need something, just
look for one of our staff members who are easily identified by their royal blue shirts with the
Camp logo.
If a mechanic has to come to perform maintenance, a professional appearance goes a long
way towards making the Motor home/Cabin owner feel comfortable with an otherwise
unknown person. That covers the uniform spin, let's look at other angles.
Typically a Campsite will have a store, which is a cross between a small grocery and a
campers/hikers supply store. Local campers as well as transient campers depend on the
store to supply their needs. Most of these stores sell apparel with the Camp logo. For the
local motor home owner such merchandise is a way of showing off to the world that they own
a nice rig.
For the transient camper a garment with a logo serves as souvenirs for their travels. And even
further a camp shirt to identify what children belong on site is great for Parents peace of mind.
In all cases, screen printing will be associated with prestige. Now souvenir apparel serves as
income-producing advertising for the Campsite. That's a neat concept, people paying to let
them advertise a business. This is a key point for application to other potential sales
opportunities.
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MARKETING TIPS (CONT.)
Identify Potential Products for the Customer
Plan the Sales Presentation
For the uniform shirts, you might want to consider 50/50 since it launders better. On the other
hand, if they are worn outside in the hot summer sun, then 100% cotton is better. Speaking of
laundering ability, consider white since it can be bleached routinely, a promotional weight will
be more appealing due to the cost. By no means forget any of your customers, offer a wide
array of quality and price points.
For the polo, tee, tank and sweat shirts that are sold as souvenirs, heavyweight, 100% cotton,
will definitely be the most appealing, since the purchaser will typically be of a high income
level and prefers high end garments. The same thought process should be applied to caps.
If they will be worn by the staff in direct sunlight, light colors with an extended bill will be
appealing and practical; one exception would be for the mechanics. They prefer black caps,
since they don't show dirt. (Lighter colors will show greasy fingerprints.) Consider ordering
samples of these products, as the real thing is much more effective than a picture in a catalog.
Use information that you have created, make a list of products with key selling points for each
one. Explain each product with its benefits and its purpose; create a price list for each of
these items. Obtain samples of the key items, have a list of alternative ideas, find the items in
catalogs and mark the pages. Create a script, decide what you will wear and make sure it fits
into the presentation.
Wearing a nice polo shirt with your printed logo will show the customer your abilities. Also put
together samples that you have done for other businesses, a portfolio of designs. Choose
some unique stock designs that could be offered as well, especially for the Camp Store.
If the Campsite does not have a logo already, make suggestions about creating one using
some of your stock designs. Think of other value-added ideas, example Print the logo on
the left chest and perhaps embroider a name on the right chest for the uniform shirts. Each
printed logo adds more dollars into your pocket.
Be sure to research the client. Find out how long they have been in business, important facts,
etc. Memorize it so that you can quote it back to the client if needed. Most customers are
impressed when they find that you took the time to learn such information.
Make The Presentation!
Ask for a Deposit!
Deliver and Follow-up!
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PRODUCTION CHARTS (CONT.)

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PRODUCTION CHARTS (CONT.)
98
Date: Job Name:
Cust. Contact Name: Phone:
Shirt Type / Style: Shirt Color:
Additional Info:
YTH. SM MED LG / SM MED LG XLG XXLG XXXLG
FRONT BACK
Shirt Sizes & Counts
SLEEVE:
CREST:
OTHER:
Print Placement Ink Color(s)
COLOR:
COLOR:
COLOR:
Date: Cust. Signature X
ARTWORK
INITIAL: INITIAL:
INITIAL:
SHIRT SUPPLIERS
Apparel Ordering Advice:
Wholesalers:
Recommended Online Broker:
If you have a business license and order larger volumes of garments, youre usually better off buying
from a wholesaler. As a general rule, a wholesaler will want you to spend around $1000 per month on
garments in order to get really aggressive pricing. It can take 1-4 weeks to get set up and approved
with a large wholesaler.
If youre ordering small volumes, dont have a business license, or both, youre usually better off
going with an online supplier/broker. Online suppliers use their purchasing power to get great
discounts at large wholesalers, then broker garments to the end user at a minimal mark up. Ordering
through a broker is usually instant. No business license is required. It takes minutes to set up an
account and your shirts can ship the same day. You might view a broker as a stepping stone into the
industry until youre ordering large enough volumes to get the savings from a wholesaler. Average
savings from a broker to a wholesaler is about 10%.
Alpha Throughout the US
Broder - Throughout the US
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No Business License Needed! No Minimums
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SCREEN PRI NTI NG ACADEMY SCREEN PRI NTI NG
Class Manual