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Thin Is In

(August 2012) posted on Tue Aug 21, 2012

The role of thread diameter on a variety of printing characteristics


By Art Dobie

click an image below to view slideshow

Lower numbers are always fancied when talking about age and price tags. We like our laptops, waist lines, and televisions when they’re thinner. It is no different when it comes to mesh-thread diameter.

Filament diameter (thread or wire), in its intimate relationship with mesh count, dictates the mesh parameters that most define our print results. The association of filament diameter and mesh count directly determines mesh opening size, open area porosity, mesh thickness, and a handful of other significant mesh parameters. In turn, the combination of mesh thickness and open area at tension provide the dominant influence on the thickness of our printed wet ink film.

Influence of thread diameter on mesh parameters
When mesh count remains unchanged, choosing a smaller filament diameter opens up the mesh and renders it much less obstructive to ink flow. This is readily apparent in the representative illustration in Figure 1 of 380-thread/in., low-elongation polyester mesh, incorporating three different thread diameters (27, 31, and 34 microns Ø).

The increased open area of mesh types with reduced thread diameter at similar mesh count equates to less filament surface area within the print cavity. As ink passes through a screen’s print cavities, it is in direct contact with the threads. By reducing the thread surface area, mesh will release easier at the moment of ink transfer.

Smaller diameter thread at the same mesh count creates higher open area by increasing the size of the mesh apertures. Larger mesh openings allow for easier transfer of higher viscosity inks, or inks that have relatively larger particle size or high solids content, often desired to achieve special effects and to help give the color some visual pop.

Additionally, filament diameter size has the most influence on mesh thickness. When the diameter is reduced, overall mesh thickness becomes thinner. Larger thread diameter increases mesh thickness.


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