Step 1: Degreasing Your Screen
Welcome to Art2Silkscreen's first series of tutorials on how to properly screen print your designs.
In today's blog, we are going to take you through, step-by-step, how to degrease your screen. This is a crucial stage of the screen printing process and should never be skipped. If you do, you could end up with some dodgy design prints, so be sure to read these instructions carefully!
Why You Should Degrease Your Screens
There are a number of reasons why it is important to degrease the mesh for your screen printing before coating it with emulsion:
The first is to remove dust particles. Mesh tends to attract dust fibres. Screen printing studios can be busy places with lots of heat and working equipment. This means there could be a lot of dust fibres in the air and it all settles on the mesh.
The second remove dirt residue. Dirty fingers handling the mesh is a big risk as it tends to get handled quite a bit, especially when stretching and packaging process.
The third is to remove grease and oil. Previous cleaning chemical residues left on the mesh can mess up your screen so be sure to remove this before starting.
If you do not degrease the mesh properly, you could end up with:
Pin Holes: When you remove the stencil, you'll get holes in your design, allowing ink to go places it shouldn't.
Patchy Areas: An uneven design can be a result of a mesh that was not degreased thoroughly.
Complete Stencil Breakdown: In some extreme cases, you could end up with your stencil breaking down.
This is why it’s super important to degrease your screen before coating.
1: Dilute Your Degreaser
Now we’re going to show you how to degrease your screen! First, take your degreaser and fill it with water until you have about a ratio of 1:10 degreaser and water. Degreasers tend to come concentrated so be sure to dilute it properly first.
2: Evenly Distribute the Degreaser
To ensure your degreaser is distributed evenly and minimises waste, fix a spray nozzle to the top of the degreaser bottle. The spray will distribute a fine mist to cover as much area as possible without so much of it being thrown away.
3: Wet the Screen
Before you spray, be sure to wet your screen in water. Insert it into your wash booth and simply spray with a hose. Make sure to do both sides before proceeding onto the next stage.
Now you can spray the screen. Once you start, the degreaser will foam on the surface. Make sure to do both sides again and spray right up in the corners as that is where dust tends to settle.
5: Use a Cleaning Brush
Take your cleaning brush and use it to clean the mesh. The best brush to go for is one with soft bristles. Scrub gently but firm until you have worked the degreaser in. Do this for both sides of the screen and don’t forget those corners!
Once you’ve given the screen a good scrub, take your hose and spray it over to rise off the lather. Turn your hose setting to a fine spray to cover the most area. Start from top to bottom to remove all the degreaser residue. Again, both sides and make sure you get right up in those corners!
Top tip: If you spray downwards, you reduce the amount of splashback of residue coming back up onto the screen.
Shake off all the remaining water and let the screen to run dry. Make sure all the water has run off otherwise you can end up with water crystals, which can block ink passing through.
You can let your screen air dry, but to dry the screen thoroughly, we recommend using a fan heater. Once dry, the screen is ready for coating.
Now you've finished this step, take a look at our next blog post for the next stage: Coating the Screen with Emulsion!
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