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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


By Tom Davenport

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This is your new zero point for squeegee pressure. Of course, pressure adjustments will need to be made as variables change from job to job or throughout a print run, but now you have a starting point. Make sure that you implement the step of returning squeegee pressure to its zero point as part of every job setup.

Squeegee stroke One of the many benefits of modern automatic presses, specifically those equipped with electric printheads, is the ability to print with a high speed, consistent squeegee stroke. The result in production is faster printing, better quality, and consistent output. The same factors mentioned before must be considered when determining squeegee stroke speed: substrate, ink, mesh, squeegee durometer, and the desired print results. The general idea is to maximize press speeds by running your stroke as fast as possible without compromising image integrity. Faster stroke speeds can translate into better image detail, cleaner lines, and increased opacity with respect to the factors listed above.

It is crucial to determine a zero point for your squeegee stroke speed. Doing so also is a process of trial and error and is relative to the typical factors in your shop and the squeegee settings outlined above. What is most important is that once determined, the settings should be documented and used as part of every job setup.

Unlike angle and pressure, stroke speed is almost guaranteed to adjust from its zero position as the print run proceeds. This is because your zero position will be a relatively slow squeegee stroke speed to ensure that you achieve proper ink shear while your inks are in a high viscosity state. This will adjust upwards as your ink viscosity reduces on press allowing for proper ink shear at a higher stroke speed.

Getting sensible about squeegees
Now that you have taken the time to expand your squeegee consciousness, it’s important to apply this knowledge to your printing operations. Make sure to document your zero points, and then train production staff to use the information correctly. The time you invest in developing a comprehensive understanding of the squeegee will be more than paid back through higher quality and increased productivity.

Have a comment about this article? E-mail it to the editors at screen@stmediagroup.com.

Tom Davenport
Tom Davenport is founder and CEO of the Motion Company, a full-service contract apparel based in Sacramento, CA. With 14 years of industry experience, Davenport has a broad knowledge of nearly every aspect of textile screen printing. He also offers training and consulting and promotes the open sharing of knowledge and information throughout the industry. Davenport is an active member of SGIA and other industry organizations. He can be reached at tom@motioncompany.com.


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