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Selecting the Right Mesh

(December 1999) posted on Wed Dec 15, 1999

Narrow your options to improve your results

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By Mark Goodridge

Consider the advantages of limiting your mesh selections to these 11 meshes. You limit the variables your production people have to deal with, from creating the design to printing it. You limit confusion in the screenroom. You will learn to adjust your ink to your mesh, rather than the other way around, thus establishing a much more economical and efficient process. Hypothetically, if enough screen printers adopted these meshes, the manufactureers would be encouraged to produce fewer types of mesh in larger quantities. Theoreticaly, this would mean lower mesh costs.

What are the advantages of selecting your meshes from the entire list of 400 meshes available? Well, you can spend countless hours studying mesh manufacturers' spec sheets. You can play trial and error with scores of different meshes in an attempt to find the absolutely perfect mesh for each different job. You can confuse your screen department beyond recovery. Is this a 110 or a 115 mesh? There are nine different meshes available in the 110-120 threads/in. range alone. How important is it to select the one perfect mesh for each job from among those nine meshes?

Is it possible to identify specific printing situations where a mesh that is not on our list will, theoretically at least, be a better choice than one of our 11 meshes? Certainly. But remember, the 11 meshes we have listed will perform adequately to print any design on any garment. Any adjustments to improve the printed image can be made in the ink, press setup, and printing stages, rather than by endless trial and error to find the one perfect mesh among 400.

General Advice

The historic rule for mesh selection was to use the coarsest mesh you could that would still hold the detail you needed. This rule originated in the days when you needed a lot of horsepower to push plastisol ink through the mesh. This rule has been challenged over the last few years by many experienced screen printers who want to print the thinnest possible ink layer in order to obtain ultra-soft-hand prints. The trend toward thin ink layers and soft-hand prints has required that screen printers learn to print through finer meshes. They have achieved success in this by using well-tensioned screens and plastisol inks that combine excellent printability and high opacity.


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