22 Lessons Learned: Printing

Some Information about Screen Printing

Not everybody knows the definition and the technology involving screen printing and so we are giving you the basic information about this technology.

Simply defined, screen printing is the procedure in which paints are pushed through a screen made of fine mesh, that creates restriction for not all paints to sip through, and with another material on the other side, a design is imprinted or created. The other terms of this procedure is silkscreen, silk-screening and serigraph, where printing screens were used to create prints using the original material.

The substrate, being the surface that is being printed, usually vary in material like paper or fabric. With the substrate and squeegee components, screen printers touches the substrate side and the other side is where the ink is pushed through using the squeegee.

The squeegee is the instrument which is like a wiper, that is used in squeezing the paint or ink through the wire mesh onto the substrate. Squeegee design varies from a hard or soft blade, with shapes of blade edges in square or round or pointed in using on the various substrates.
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The most common hardness of the squeegee blade is 70, wherein the durometer is the number used to indicate the hardness, wherein as the number goes up, the harder the blade is. Sharp edges and square squeegees are for non-porous surfaces, while the soft round squeegees are often used on fabrics.
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The screen mesh is made of polyester used in screen printing, with a thread count of 40 to 400, and the higher the thread count, the less ink will go through the mesh.

Screen mesh can have a white or yellow color. With these colors, print can have a soft or sharp image differences. White color can create a softer lines since it creates a light exposure, while the colored ones can produce a shaper image because of the less reflection.

Maybe the last component to mention but not of least importance, is the screen printing frame that holds the screen mesh. The frame can either be made of pre-tensioned wood or aluminum with rolling bars for tightening the mesh.

Artists and printing houses use this printing technique to produce their projects on papers, plastics, cloths, leather, glass, wood, rubber and other materials.

Two kinds of screens are used in screen printing, one is temporal and the other is permanent. The temporal screen can only last for a short period of time and can register single or limited prints on cloths and papers.

Temporal screens are not expensive, easy to prepare, does not require so much effort, and examples of these are paper stencil screens and candle wax screens.

While the other screen, called the permanent screens, as it is named, will last for a very long time even forever, if taken cared of or maintained well. This type of screen can give you multiples, hundreds and thousands of prints. With this type of screen, the preparation is extensive and the cost is much higher, and the examples of these screens are shellac screens, lacquer screens and the photographic screens.