User login

Just can't get it right. Very noob post, please help.

Posted on Thu, 26 Aug 2004 at 1:19



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.

Jonathan

Location of Opportunity or Item

Comments

Anonymous says: Sorry for your troubles, here is my observation: It appears from your posting that you are coating one side of the screen. Always coat both sides. Depending on your emulsion, you may have to double coat ...

Sorry for your troubles, here is my observation:

It appears from your posting that you are coating one side of the screen. Always coat both sides. Depending on your emulsion, you may have to double coat your screen as well.

The plastisol cleaner you are speaking of shouldn't remove the emulsion, but if you did not coat both sides and you underexposed your screen, it may be breaking down for one or both of those reasons. It's hard to say a certain amount of time under the exposure source since there are so many variations out there. Just do a search on these boards for exposing screens, there is a lot of information here that should answer any more questions you have on that. It does involve a lot of trial and error.

As for the inks, since you have to pull that many times, is your screen truly washed out? When you hold the screen up to the light, do you see a thin clear residue in your washed out area? If you do, then you most likely have underexposed your screen. What I would do to solve this problem is go to a local store and look for a garden hose attachment. Not the one with so many different adjustments, but a little metal one that you twist, it is kind of cone shaped. If there is no way to use this in your bathtub, get one of those child shower heads. They fit over the bathtub faucet. Use the hose and put on the other attachment. This should give you more pressure to wash out the image.

I've also found that once your screen is washed out, lay it out flat on newspapers or towels. Some people dab it with a lint free cloth or towel to remove excess water, but laying if flat helps tremendously.

When printing, you should be able to print one time, heat it up just enough so where it is no longer wet (flashing), then print it once again. This should be plenty. Some inks will allow you to print then print again without flashing. I assume the ink you have will require a flash before printing again.

I would suspect that it is more in your screen than anything.

Hope this helps.

posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 8:05am
Anonymous says: you didnt specify a mesh count. you generally want to stick with a low mesh (110-175) for printing white. another thing. you dont want the emulsion romever to dry in your screen. it will crystallize and ...

you didnt specify a mesh count. you generally want to stick with a low mesh (110-175) for printing white. another thing. you dont want the emulsion romever to dry in your screen. it will crystallize and never come out.

posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 1:50pm
Anonymous says: you didnt specify a mesh count. you generally want to stick with a low mesh (110-175) for printing white. another thing. you dont want the emulsion romever to dry in your screen. it will crystallize and ...

you didnt specify a mesh count. you generally want to stick with a low mesh (110-175) for printing white. another thing. you dont want the emulsion romever to dry in your screen. it will crystallize and never come out.

posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 1:51pm
Anonymous says: Thank you all very much for your input. I have resolved the issue with some superior products to those that I was using in the past. I am pulling fantastic prints with white ink on black and any other ...

Thank you all very much for your input. I have resolved the issue with some superior products to those that I was using in the past. I am pulling fantastic prints with white ink on black and any other color shirts I so choose. I am incredibly pleased and my oven is no longer simply for cooking cheap pizza.

My only issue now is that I am getting some rough "peaks" on the plastisol that cure and make the image feel very rough. I am assuming this is due to when I pull the screen off of the print so I am off to find some info on how to cure the situation. If you know how to rectify my peak predicament I would love to hear your advice.

Thank you again for your help,

Jonathan

posted on: Thu, 08/26/2004 - 9:13pm
Anonymous says: If you mean peaks as in bumps, have you checked your off-contact? Off-contact is how high the screen is above the platen. You do not want it to touch the shirt until you are making contact with the squeegee. ...

If you mean peaks as in bumps, have you checked your off-contact?

Off-contact is how high the screen is above the platen. You do not want it to touch the shirt until you are making contact with the squeegee. About 2 quarters ($0.50) thickness should be enough off-contact for you.

posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 9:49am
Anonymous says: Wow, that really seems like a lot, but you are more experienced than I am so I will definatly give it a go. Thank you all again for your input, things are coming along much more smoothly than before and ...

Wow, that really seems like a lot, but you are more experienced than I am so I will definatly give it a go. Thank you all again for your input, things are coming along much more smoothly than before and my frustruration level is stedily decreasing.

Thanks again,

Jon

posted on: Fri, 08/27/2004 - 3:44pm
Anonymous says: Johnathan, Also, screen tension is very important! If your screen tension is low the mesh will not snap back quickly which can also cause the peaks. A good high tension screen will snap quickly and cleanly. ...

Johnathan,
Also, screen tension is very important! If your screen tension is low the mesh will not snap back quickly which can also cause the peaks. A good high tension screen will snap quickly and cleanly. It is a fairly large investment for a newbie..but...Retensionable screens are a great investment for the longhaul. The frames are a little more plus you need a tension meter but, you can retension screen allowing for a tighter screen for a longer time. Also, anytime the mesh gets worn, torn or ghosted beyond use, you can replace the screen mesh. And lastly, make sure you squeegee edges are sharp. A dull edge will affect the way the ink shears. If it does not shear cleanly you may get what you are talking about. I have heard many people talk about sharpening squeegees using sandpaper. A squeege is a fairly inexpensive tool. Plus if the edges get out of square you will not shear cleanly.
Good Luck
Gary

posted on: Thu, 09/02/2004 - 2:42pm

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.