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The Benefits of High-Pressure Washes and High-Tension Screens

(July 2006) posted on Tue Aug 08, 2006

Find out how using an industrial-grade pressure washer to develop stencils and reclaim mesh will improve the quality of your prints and prolong the life of your high-tension screens.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Just about every screenroom I visit uses some kind of pressure washer during screen production and reclamation. These tools are available in all kinds of configurations, and like most items in recent years, their cost has come down considerably as more and more companies move their manufacturing to less expensive locations. Anyone can go down to their local superstore and pick one up for almost nothing. But will it get the job done? More importantly, what should you look for in an industrial pressure washer?

High-pressure washers are used for several distinctly different purposes at different stages. This month, I would like to go over some of the guidelines for successfully selecting and using pressure washers and properly processing your screens.

Some very simple practices can make a huge difference in how much you spend monthly on screenmaking and screen-cleaning chemicals. But before dissecting your screenmaking process, it's important to understand exactly what high-pressure washing is.

Line water pressure is usually about 75 psi in the US. Taking the line pressure and focusing it down with a nozzle will increase the pressure, but not more than a couple hundred psi. This is not high pressure.

Line water pressure is most commonly used to wash out the image area after exposure. Many screenmakers believe that using low pressure prevents damage and preserves delicate image detail. They are misinformed. If the screen is properly dried, imaged, and rehydrated, then little damage is done by using fairly high pressure during the final washout. More on this later.

The very inexpensive pressure washers (often less than $100-300) available in hardware and lawn and garden stores usually operate in the range of 500-1750 psi. Those pressures are certainly better than nothing, but they're limited when it comes to doing any real work. Additionally, these units are built for intermittent use. These light-duty machines work well for image washout, but they're not appropriate for mesh prep or reclaiming.


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