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Creating the Perfect Screen

(December 2007) posted on Mon Dec 03, 2007

The key to consistency in screen printing lies in the screen. Discover how discipline and science can help you fine tune the screenmaking process.

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By Gordon Roberts

Today, I find it incredible that we achieved even the crude results that we did without correctly tensioned screens. I am even more amazed when I walk into a screen shop now and find people still using those same methods and complaining about the poor quality of their prints. If you can’t place a correctly tensioned screen into the hands of your press operators every time they print a job, then you are building frustration and inefficiency into your process, and you are paying for that in lost production. The cost of retensionable frames is, of course, the reason that many shops choose to bypass them, but it’s a false economy. In today’s marketplace, I am hardpressed to think of a print job that would not benefit from such frames. Remember, a company that chooses to restrict its quality potential will not survive for long.


Which mesh?

Now let’s take a look at mesh. Back in the day, we had a few options, and we used trial and error to arrive at the best mesh count for the job. Today, your options are almost overwhelming, and it can seem a little daunting to figure out this part of the puzzle. Remember that mesh is a very expensive item, which means there are a lot of vendors out there who stand to make a lot of money over the long haul selling the stuff to you. Make them work for your business in every way. Get them into your shop and use their knowledge to fine tune your mesh-buying decisions. Let them know that you are talking with all the vendors in an effort to streamline your production process. Find out what they are willing to do to help you out. Keep track of the results, and if things don’t improve, get the next rep in to pitch you his product.

Don’t assume that you know everything you need to know about mesh counts simply by reading the ink supplier’s recommendations. Things change all the time in this business, and you need to be the first one on the block to know about advancements in all of the products you use, especially in such an expensive commodity as mesh.


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