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Better Garment Printing through Squeegee Consciousness

(April 2009) posted on Thu Apr 23, 2009

Despite its important role in the screen-printing process, the squeegee often doesn

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By Tom Davenport

4. Flood the screen and print onto test fabric to lubricate the mesh. Repeat several times, making sure that your screen is flooding properly.

5. Reduce your squeegee pressure to your press’s minimum setting (note: if your press is equipped with both manual and pneumatic squeegee pressure adjustments, set your manual pressure to 75% and leave it there. From here on out, all pressure adjustments should be made through the air pressure regulator, which should be set at zero to start).

6. Select your most commonly printed substrate, preferably in a dark color (you will need several pieces). Load the garment/fabric onto the platen, making sure that the grain of the fabric is perfectly straight.

7. Flood your screen and print. Chances are, your squeegee didn’t even make contact with the screen, which is okay.

8. Increase your pressure by small increments and print after each adjustment. Do this until your squeegee makes contact with the screen, but does not completely clear ink through the mesh.

9. Load a new piece of fabric, increase your pressure by a small increment, flood and print.

10. Repeat this process, using a new piece of fabric for every print. This is most important because you need to make sure that you are printing directly onto the substrate with each print stroke, rather than printing onto wet ink, which will skew your results.

11. Continue this process until you can successfully clear ink through the screen with a single print stroke. Successfully clearing the screen means you can inspect the open area of the mesh and you will not see any ink left in the open area. Likewise, inspect the printed substrate for even and complete ink coverage.

12. Load a new piece of fabric and perform another print cycle, carefully inspecting the squeegee as it is stroked across the screen; you should see very little flex in the squeegee. If there is a dramatic flex creating squeegee roll-over, an angle adjustment is in order and you will need to start over. Again, inspect both the screen and printed substrate. If the results are sufficient, document the squeegee pressure settings and adjust all of the printheads to match.


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