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Realities in Reclaiming

(June 2008) posted on Tue Jun 03, 2008

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.

By Gordon Roberts

Now the reclaim team is presented with a much more manageable problem. They won’t get excess ink all over everything, and they can go to work immediately on the most important parts of their job. Speed is very important. The less time that you allow a screen to sit before reclaiming, the easier it will be to remove the ink residue and the emulsion from the mesh and return the screen for reuse. Remove spray cans of screen-mesh openers from your press operators’ hands and replace the cans with ink remover. When ink dries in the screen, carefully apply a little ink remover to the underside of the screen, and then print onto newsprint. It might take a little longer, and it’s obviously less convenient. However, I have noticed that whatever is put in the cans of screen-mesh openers fixes the dyes from the ink into the mesh, resulting in the need to dehaze every time the screens are used. Try it, and see if I’m not right.

Correct exposure is another major problem I’ve seen. I mentioned in my last column that one of the most obvious problems resulting from underexposure is that the emulsion will not wash out properly. This problem continues into the reclaiming booth. Remember, your emulsion remover is formulated to work on a substance that has been transformed by the application of intense UV light into something that is quite different chemically from the original. The emulsion remover is formulated to remove the chemically changed emulsion, and it has little effect on the underexposed version. If you don’t allow the chemical reaction to happen, then you might as well blow it out with your pressure washer and forget about the emulsion remover because it will give you the same result.

If you find that there is emulsion left in the mesh after it is reclaimed, then it is almost certainly due to underexposure and not because the chemicals have mysteriously stopped working. Perform an exposure test immediately to make sure. Also, remember that once emulsion residue is left in the mesh after reclaiming, it will become permanent the next time you put it in front of an exposure light, and then it will be impossible to remove. My feeling is that the screen is now unusable and should be completely remade with new mesh.


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