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The Screen-Cleaning Boxing Ring

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Do green screen cleaners actually work? This article compares them to conventional cleaning products and describes how to use them effectively.

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By Jason Davenport

You can decrease your eco-footprint even more with a special reclaiming process. For many years, the screen-printing world had asked for a product that could remove ink and emulsions in one step. Almost five years ago, the manufacturing world met that request. Interestingly enough, the chemistry used relies heavily on the same one used in current, environmentally friendly emulsion removers. The process works by placing your screen in a tank and soaking the screen for a short period of time. Then you use a low-pressure power washer to clean the screen out, thus combining two steps into one step.

The tank traps and contains most of the emulsions and inks, keeping them from entering the water-discharge system. After reclaiming many screens, when it comes time to empty the tank and start with a fresh batch of reclaimer, shops use a filter system to remove much of the trapped emulsion and ink, further reducing their eco-footprint.

Something to remember when using these systems is that they do not degrade the ink from the screen; they only soften the ink. Any type of chemistry that degrades ink can also remove the adhesives from around the frame edge. It’s not fun to pull the screen out of the tank and find the mesh floating away from the frame. These systems simply use emulsion-removing chemistry with blends of degreasers. The emulsion remover does its job, and the degreasers loosen the ink, enabling it to fall off of the screen or be easily blown out of the screen.

Round 3: Haze and ghost removers
It’s unbelievable how many screen printers never remove the ghost/haze from their screens when reclaiming. It’s such an important step that takes very little time, makes your screens last years longer, and keeps you from having pinholes and other problems down the road. You will seldom stain a high-quality mesh. Rather, a haze image is ink that is trapped in the knuckles of the mesh, creating a light visual image of the artwork that was printed.


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