This final chapter in a series of columns on the screenmaking process concludes with tips on how to make screen reclaiming a smooth, efficient, and money-saving process.
The second rule of thumb is to get ink out of the screen as quickly as possible. After many years of searching for a better solution, I have found that the only thing that seems to work consistently is to integrate this step into the press operator’s breakdown regimen. The press operators should routinely remove as much of the excess ink that they can when the job is complete, and then use a rag and ink remover to clean up whatever is left. The goal is for the press operators to return the screen to the reclaiming area in very much the same condition that they received it from the screenmakers.
I was amazed at how much more economical my press operators became with ink applications once they knew that they would have to clean up the mess. It’s possibly the single most effective way to get them to learn good ink-handling techniques. It also means that less expensive ink is flushed down the drains and into your waste-treatment bills.
The main gripe your operators will have is that the extra step will slow down production. Remind them that production doesn’t just happen on the press. You should be monitoring your process often enough that you can see whether that’s true within a month of implementing the procedure. I assure you that there will be no significant slowdown. However, if there is a major slowdown, you can always return to the messy method.
Better cleanup on press means that the ink will not have time to un-dergo the chemical changes that make it more difficult to remove during reclaiming and will result in much less ghosting and less use of harsh ghost haze removers. The resulting increase in mesh longevity will pay off because the screens will have a better chance to harden off over time and become much more reliable. You also will spend far less money on restretching expensive mesh.
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