For the past week I have gone through about $150.00 in materials trying to pull a successful print from my tiny screen printing setup. I started with the "crafty" products you can purchase at the local art store, but quickly learned that those products would not work for my intentions. I have been trying to print white on dark colors (the typical starting point for most comments on this board) and learned white waterbase ink from the art store is really about as effective as correction fluid from the office supply store.
After reading many, many posts in forums such as this, I went to a screen printing supply company and picked up a nice assortment of products. I got a huge aluminum pre-stretched screen that is about 500% more rigid than my "craft" screen, a 70 squeegee, some Union Plastisol Cotton White ink, pre-mixed emulsion, and some plastisol cleaner.
When I coat the screen with emulsion I get a somewhat thin coating on the print side as well as the ink tray. From what I have been reading this sounds about right. I dry the screen so the emulsion flows to the print side, and let it completely dry. When I burn my images, I sandwich all the items between black foam and a piece of plexi-glass to keep things nice and flat. I am curing the emulsion for appx. an hour with a 250w halogen that I removed the glass UV filter from and placed nearly 15" directly above the screen. I wash the screen out with my shower in cold water and gently rub the area to be released to asssist in the process. The water pressure leaves quite a bit to be desired, and I live in an appartment so there is no hose.
My problem is this (finally). When I use the Plastisol ink I am not getting very much ink to permiate the screen and attach itself to the shirt. After 10 strokes I finally get something that resembles a water based ink stroke, very transparent and very very skectchy looking. I get frusturated and begin to clean up and move onto something more rewarding when I notice that the plastisol cleaner is eating away the emulsion from my screen. By the time I get things clear enough to see what damage has been done, 75% of my clean crisp stencil is gone. I have tried emulsion remover to reclaim the screen but only 50% of the emulsion is coming off, the rest stays on the screen as if it's mocking me and forcing me to spend another $25.00 on a new screen.
Can someone explain why my cleaner is removing the emulsion that is supposed to be "plastisol and chemical resistant". And if you can find it in your heart to type a little more, please explain how I can get a good clean pull of white plastisol onto a black 100% cotton shirt. I was assured by the screen supply company that this Union ink was the one for the job, so I am assuming it's operator error. I would really like to make a few shirts but the problems are really starting to affect my wallet.
Thank you in advance for sharing your experience and wisdom.
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