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What is screen-off contact? If you frequently screen t-shirts, this is a term you should be familiar with. Screen-off contact is the amount of distance between the screen printing mesh and the substrate (the fabric or item on which you are applying the print). However, there is a purpose for this gap. To allow a clean and crisp print while applying your flood stroke, you do not want the screen to lay on your substrate before you are ready to apply pressure with the silk screen squeegee. As you print stroke with the squeegee, the screen will only make contact with the substrate when pressure is applied. This proper amount of distance will result in an impeccable finish to your fabric or item.

Additionally, when applying your screen to your substrate, you should also be aware of the tension of the mesh in the screen. Every fabric that can be used for screen printing has a specific screen tension that is recommended by the manufacturer, measured in newtons per centimeter. Using a calibrated tool called a tension meter, you should be able to determine the perfect number of newtons needed to stretch the mesh and achieve the best printing results.

The right number of newtons per centimeter will prevent low tension in your screen. Two issues can occur when using a softer mesh than recommended: fabric wave and mesh release.

Fabric wave can appear when applying pressure while pulling or pushing the squeegee across the substrate. In doing so with a low-tension screen, a small wave of screen mesh can form in front of the squeegee blade resulting in it filling with ink and smearing onto the garment when the squeegee finishes at the edge of the screened print.

Most commonly associated with a soft mesh is mesh release. If printing with the right screen-off contact, the only place the screen may meet the substrate is along the edge of the squeegee. If the mesh tension is too low, the screen will not release from the fabric or item as you pull the squeegee across. When it releases, the screen printing ink on the garment will try to grab onto the mesh resulting a rough design. Especially when screening a multi-colored design, it may grab previous colors and start to build up, creating a murky-edged image.


            To ensure you have the proper screen printing equipment that’ll guarantee a clean finish, browse our wide selection of screenprinting supplies!

Posted in Screen Printing Tips By Dave Landes

Many screen printers will agree that to create the highest quality products, the screen printing equipment used must not be poor quality or carelessly prepared. This can cause many losses in a business. One of the most important components in the screen printing process is the type of frame used. There are three types of screen printing frames that can be used; wood, aluminum, and self-tensioning frames. However, which is the best to use for your business?

            Wood frames are the most budget-friendly of the three options. They are cheaper than aluminum and self-tension and this makes them appropriate for businesses that just opened. The price tag can be a drawing point but there is a disadvantage to them. Wood frames must have the screen printing mesh glued to the frame but the lack of strength and durability can cause them to warp and deteriorate over a period of time. However, wooden frames are a good option if you are using the same screen multiple times or a simple print that might not require top notch accuracy.

            Aluminum frames are more reliable and stable compared to the wood. They can be pricier but the long-lasting strength they have can pay for them over time. Additionally, they have a higher tension point while also being lighter and easier and they can be stripped and a new screen can be applied if necessary. Aluminum frames require a separate stretching system to apply the mesh which is glued to the frame. These frames are a good investment as they are comparably better than the wood frames over time.

            Finally, self-tension frames can also be made from aluminum but the similarities stop there.  Due to being designed to self-stretch, they do not require a separate stretching system like the aluminum and wood frames do. These frames are best for high detail prints which can require a higher tension. The self-tension aspect of this frame can allow you to increase the tension needed for your project. The only disadvantage to this frame is the higher price compared to the wood and aluminum frames.  

            Looking for high quality frames for your screen printing needs? Please contact Multicraft via our easy form and someone will respond shortly! Thank you!

Posted in Screen Printing Products By Dave Landes

Dye migration occurs when dye bleeds into the screen printing ink that has been screen printed on the fabric. Usually, this is due to the high concentration of dyes typically used in 50/50 blend and 100% polyester shirts. The dyes, when heated to excess of 360 degrees, bypass the liquid state then evaporate into a gas state therefore migrating through the ink.

When printing on 100% polyester, it is highly recommended that you lower the dryer temperature to 320 degrees to prevent most of the dye from turning into gas. Additionally, you should use a white ink that is formulated to print on polyester, otherwise known to as poly ink. Ploy ink is designed to cure at a lower temperature, thereby keeping the dyes from turning into a gas and migrating through the ink. 

It is not required for all inks to be poly inks. If you are using white ink, you should under base all the light color inks with the poly white and then use standard inks on top of the white. Due to the nature of dark inks, it is not required to under base them. Though dye migration will somewhat occur, it will not be noticeable to the human eye. However, this is not always the case. In addition to these preventative measures, a low cure additive could also be used to lower the temperature of the inks. Simply, add the additive to the ink base according to the manufacturer’s instructions, mix it, and then print!

Always use your best judgement. A fail-safe way to make sure the process has gone smoothly is to test and wait for 72 or more hours to make sure dye migration will not occur on the actual garment. The artwork and garment color will always dictate how it will be done. 

Questions about this blog post? Please contact Multicraft via our easy form and someone will respond to you shortly. Thanks!

Posted in Screen Printing Tips By Dave Landes

Photo-emulsion products are sold by Multicraft for professional screen printing needs.

When screen printing a t-shirt, to save time and money you may consider using a stencil. Achieving a picture-perfect stencil is easy but it is important to have the proper amount of screen emulsion exposure time.  Photo emulsion is a liquid substance that reacts to light. When exposed to UV rays, it becomes more difficult to remove from surfaces - which makes it perfect for creating a stencil.

The emulsion is applied in a thin layer to both sides of the screen mesh with an emulsion scoop coater. When applying, use smooth, even and light-handed strokes and coat the entire screen evenly and entirely to ensure no holes have been left, which could allow ink to get through if not coated properly. This is especially important for the edges of the screen as these areas are the most prone to accidental lines of ink showing up on your image.

Once your screen is completely coated, keep it in a dark place to completely dry. Be sure to keep it away from light, as light can cause over exposure and ruin the stencil. To check if it has dried completely, without allowing light in, very gently touch the edge of the screen where it is less likely to cause any blemishes. If it is slightly tacky, it is not dry. Check both sides and if both sides are not sticky at all, it has dried.

After you have allowed the screen emulsion to dry, apply your positive to the screen, cover with a spotless sheet of glass, and proceed to expose the screen to your light source. Seeing as screen emulsion is light-reactive, it will develop an image with the correct amount of light exposure. To achieve the correct exposure, you need to use an exposure calculator. You must attach the exposure calculator directly to the screen and expose it to your light source for a specific amount of time which is determined by the strength of the light you are using.

After you expose and rinse out the screen, inspect the image to determine the best result. You will be looking for an image that is crisp, showing all details, including halftones and fine lines. Make sure the image is not slimy to the touch, as this indicates that the image is under exposed.

Questions about this blog post? Please contact Multicraft via our easy form and someone will respond to you shortly, thanks!

Posted in Screen Printing Tips By Pete Kever

Metallic and glitter screen printing inks look great when applied correctly and professionally

Metallic screen printing inks are a type of special screen printing ink that contains reflective metal pieces such as zinc, bronze, copper, or aluminum. When dry, the metal pieces in the ink reflect light, creating an attractive sheen. Printing with metallic inks and glitter can result in beautiful, eye-catching prints; however doing so can be a bit complicated, depending on the design. There are many factors that come into play in the printing process, such as humidity, ambient temperature, mesh count, speed, and pressure.

First and foremost, everything revolves around the details of the design. Ideally, metallic inks and glitter inks should be printed using a 110-screen printing mesh or lower. However, it is best to print using an 86 mesh. Owing to the fact that the ink is actually very fine, ground-down pieces of metal, which is what gives the ink that metallic look, you are going to need as much ink as you can get in order to transfer it to the textile sucessfully. The more ink, the brighter the image will appear. 

However, there are instances where this is not possible. For example, the design may have a lot of fine lines and detail. To capture the fine details of the image, you must use a higher mesh count. However, this WILL cause you to lose some of the brightness of the inks. To remedy this, you can do a print-flash print with this ink, thereby making it brighter. Ultimately, it comes down to what you feel is going to be best and what is going to make your customer happiest

Still puzzled as to how to print with metallic and glitter-based screen inks? Please contact Multicraft via our easy form and someone will respond to you shortly, thanks!

Posted in Multicraft News By Pete Kever

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