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Screen Printing Questions, screen printing information, screen printing help

Screen Printing FAQs & Help


We realize that if you are new to the industry you probably have many questions that need answering. Below are some frequently asked questions. If your question isn't answered by the following, please email us below.


Q: How many shirts can I print with one quart of ink?
A: Depending on how big the design is, anywhere from 200-500. If you are printing a white design on a dark shirt the design typically has to be printed, flash dried, and then printed again so you are going to use close to twice the amount of ink for that type of print.

Q: Will my t-shirts look like professionally screened shirts as seen in a store?
A: All the supplies listed are professional supplies. You have all the opportunity to make a professional product. However, it takes practice.

Q: How do you print on round objects?
A: You have two options available, the first being a cylindrical screen printing machine where you use screens along with a pretty intense learning curve and the diameters available are limited. The second option is easier to incorporate and will allow you to use the machine for a broader range of products including fishing lures. A pad printing machine gives you the opportunity to print on just about any irregular surface. You can choose from manual or automatic pad printing machine models, and from one-color to four-color. Choose with or without exposure unit, although, the one with the exposure unit is highly recommended. Machines come with complete pad printing supplies and kits to get you up and printing in no time. You will use a photopolymer plate versus a screen and your detail is phenomenal, fill the ink cup, and the silicone "pad" transfers the ink, to the object you are printing. The pad itself is very conforming, and wraps itself on to the substrate, leaving behind a crisp clear image. We offer a pad printing starter kit that will fill your needs along with technical assistance should you require it.

Q: How is the design transferred to the screen?
A: Refer to the FREE Screen Printing info auto responder on the home page.

Q: Is it worth my money?
A: Yes, off of a couple hundred dollar investment, you could easily make, well lets leave that up to you. We have MANY customers who have started out with small kits and have made several thousand dollars right off the bat. The bottom line is, it all depends on you. Screen printing doesn't make you money if you don't screen print and have the work to screen print. If you do the work it is a very lucrative business to be in. This page is also dedicated to helping our customers through those nasty problems everyone runs into in the middle of a job or right before a deadline. If you feel like you have an issue that is not listed but should be on the page, please write us and let us know what so we can share the solution with others.

Q: Images on screens are not washing out.
A: First of all, be sure that you are doing all parts of the emulsion and exposure process in a light safe environment with a yellow bug light or light safe bulb and NO outside or bright light what so ever. This includes mixing your emulsion, coating your screens, drying your screens, exposure, and washout. Be sure that you are not coating your emulsion too thick. When using a scoop coater, also be sure that you take the black plastic or rubber application protector off the coater before applying the emulsion on the screen. Be sure that your film is very opaque and dark. If you hold it up to a light and can see through it, you probably need to double print your film and stack the film on top of each other to achieve a more opaque image. Insure that there is a positive contact between your screen mesh and your positive film. If the film is not pressed completely against your mesh then you will get light reflection between your positive screen film and your screen which will result in a blurry and not clear image. Also be sure that you are exposing your screen for the correct amount of time which the light or exposure system you are using. If you are unclear on exposure times please feel free to ask us. *If you have to take your screen outside to washout and you have no other options. Be sure that you take it outside in a very black trash bag and do not expose to light during movement. Also be sure that you are washing your screens out in a dark shaded area or at night if possible.

Q: Ink is not printing 100% coverage on your application or ink is being left in the screen.
A: You want to insure that your screen is totally cleared before the end of every print. This means that there is not ink left in the mesh and all of the ink gets transferred to the sub-strait. To insure that this happens correctly, you want to be sure that you have the proper off contact for the job at hand. Typically you want your screen to be about 2 pennies or an eighth of an inch off your application. Please adjust as necessary according to the equipment you are using.

Q: Ink seems too thick.
A: If your ink is too thick or you are having problems with it passing through your screen, you can thin the ink down. However the problem with some inks is that because of the pigment content needed in them to appear opaque on a garment it NEEDS to be thick. You probably need to work on refining your print stroke and technique, I would see the section on HELP PRINTING WHITE INK at the top of this page. If you are having problems passing general plastisol ink can be thinned down using curable reducer very sparingly about 5-10%. This will not effect the quality of the ink or the curability of the ink but give it a softer hand and make it easier to pass through a higher mesh screen. If too much is mixed in, the ink will become too runny and no longer work. Mix very small amounts in at a time until the desired consistency is obtained. Mineral spirits may be used ONLY in an extreme pinch but is not recommended.

Q: When I print my shirt, some of the ink pulls back up with the screen.
A: This is a really common, and one of the most asked questions. This could be caused by a couple of things. The most important being that when you pull your squeegee that you push down firmly (but not enough to bend the rubber blade). This ensures that the proper amount of ink needed for your image is deposited thru onto your shirt. Another possible answer could be that maybe your pallets are getting too hot. If this is happening then the ink would cure in the open mesh of the screen.This does not happen an awful lot but it is common on rotary feed jobs. One more thing that could contribute to this is that your screen mesh is too high. This would cause less ink to pass thru, but the printer will be trying to grind it thru, thus blurring out the image. Make sure your mesh count is the right one for the job. The ink could maybe be a little too thick also, you can thin it down some by adding a little of our curable reducer at about 5-10% being very careful not to add too much. The ink (plastisol) should be creamy and smooth. Do not be afraid to mix it up.

Q: When I print my shirt, my image seems to be a little blurry.
A: The first thing that comes to mind is that the screens are not tight in their clamps. As you bear down with pressure to get your print the force will alter your screen's position on the print surface. So, if the clamps holding your screens are loose then your print will be out of registration. This would especially be true on 1 color prints. If you are using a flash, and after your second pull or color it is burring, then the flash could be shrinking the shirt, thus distorting your print. It could also be something as simple as the shirt pallets not being secured good enough to the press. This sounds minute, but it is something you have to consider as well. If you are using the rotary presses then the spinning of the machine after time could loosen up the pallets as well. One other possibility could be that your screen has somehow lost it tightness. This could be caused by, dropping it, puncturing a hole in it. The screen needs to be tight so that your image is tight. Each job and each garment is different. Each printers style is different. Once you get it set correctly, you will be blur free. 110 Mesh is too much ink over an underlay. The most common meshes used for overprinting range from 156 to 280 meshes, when using a higher mesh you want to use a opaque ink to help coverage and limit spread. As you know shirts will absorb ink as where a flash plate will not, like printing on glass the ink has nowhere to go but out if it is not being absorbed. If you do not have time to re-burn you can use the 110 by changing your print technique with a few simple steps. DO NOT FLOOD, get enough ink in front of the squeegee and do one hard, sharp pass with a relatively quick pull. You should try this out on an old shirt to perfect the pressure and speed you will need, also have your off contact at least 1/16th of an inch from the white underlay. If you still have problems with smearing go to a higher mesh, also never reduce an overlay print as you will want the ink opaque, thick and intense.

Q: After I wash my shirts a few times, the ink starts to come off. I think I am curing the ink for long enough because it feels dry to the touch.
A: Just because it "Feels dry to the touch", does not mean that it is. IF THE PRINT COMES OFF OR FADES, IT IS NOT CURED!! Plastisol inks need to be heated to a pre-determined temperature for a certain duration of time, usually somewhere between 45-55 seconds. This would be to either to flash dry or to use a conveyor dryer. Different inks, or special garments may need their timing fine tuned somewhat. You may need to try a junk shirt or some used garment that you can check your settings on. If you are using a flash plate or spot plate as a base for more colors, then these screens need to be flashed in between prints as well. If the underlying coats are not cured then the whole print will come off. Normal curing would be at 320-325 degrees for a period of 45 seconds. The temperature and times will vary some from job to job, so please do some testing before hand. A great way to test to see if the ink is cured or not is to pull on the t-shirt. If the ink sticks together like plastic or rubber, then it is cured. However if it cracks and you can see the t-shirt under it, you need to increase your curing time.

Q: How important is it to degrease the screen and what problems might this pose if the screen is not degreased?
A: It is very important to degrease the screen. A screen that is not degrease will have problems exposing, the emulsion will not adhere to the screen properly and might washout before the image can be seen. The emulsion could also not wash out at all. When you degrease be sure to rinse all of the soap off of the screen as this can also cause problems after the emulsion is dried.

Q: How long does unused emulsion stay good?
A: This depends on what type of emulsion you are using. If you are using a Dual-Cure diazo emulsion, the average shelf life is about 3 months once the diazo has been mixed into the emulsion. The CCI DXP Dual-Cure Diazo emulsion we sell however does last about twice as long (up to six months). If you are using a pre-sensitized emulsion that is pre-mixed, these usually have around a year shelf life once opened.


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