HOW TO SCREEN PRINT A DIY GUIDE TO SCREENPRINTING
HOW TO SCREEN PRINT A DIY GUIDE TO SCREENPRINTINGIn this blog post we are going to teach you the basics of DIY at home screenprinting to help you learn how to screen print. We are self taught screen printers so although our technique might not be the "professional" way, we are able to get the job done. We are always learning as we go, and believe that you should as well. Playing around and experimenting is the best way for you to learn how to screen print. These are just the basics to get you started!
SCREENS: It all starts with the screens, and there are many different sizes and types of mesh available. The larger count mesh has more details and the smaller count mesh allows more ink.
110 Count = Larger areas for ink to go through (Good for Thick Inks, like White)
150-160 Count = The medium Mesh. Screen printer go-to mesh. Good for regular standard screen printing.
200+ = Finer Details (Not as good for thicker inks)
INKS: It all starts with the screens, and there are many different sizes and types of mesh available. The larger count mesh has more details and the smaller count mesh allows more ink.
PLASTISOL = PVC based ink. Easy to manage, doesn't dry on the screen. Plastic feel on shirt, feels heavy. Ink sits on top of shirt. Cures at 300-305 degrees fahrenheit.
WATER BASED = Water is the main solvent in the ink. Ink becomes part of the shirt. Feels soft. Drys on the screen as you are working if you do not work quick enough. Ink becomes part of shirt.
PHOTO EMULSION: Emulsion is used to coat the mesh of the silkscreen. Photo emulsion is light sensitive & "cures" when put into UV light. There are many different photo emulsions on the market for you to choose from.
TRANSPARENCY PAPER: Transparent paper will be used to print your design that you will be printing onto.
LIGHTING: 150W Bulb & Yellow Bulb
SQUEEGEES: Squeegees vary in length & blade durometer. The durometer is the measure of hardness of the blade. High durometer blades will flex less and lower durometer blades are harder.70 Durometer blade is the most popular and versatile blade.
CURING: Heat Press or Heat Gun or the DIY way...Iron.
PROCESS OF BURNING A SILKSCREEN:
STEP 1: (IN DARK ROOM OR ROOM LIT WITH YELLOW BULB) Mix emulsion.
STEP 2: (IN DARK ROOM OR ROOM LIT WITH YELLOW BULB) Coat each side of the screen with a thin layer of emulsion. Make sure there are no open holes or grooves and the emulsion is spread evenly on both sides
STEP 3: Let the screen air dry overnight in a dark room or a dark bag. Make sure the actual screen mesh isn't touching anything. Lay flat.
STEP 4: Print your design on transparency paper.
STEP 5: Place your transparency on the screen reversed so that you see the image flipped. Tape the transparency to the screen. Use foam or blackboard underneath so the light doesnt show through the bottom. Place glass on top of the screen.
STEP 6: Place your 150w bulb lamp about 2 feet above the screen pointing directly at the screen. Leave the lamp on for about 30 minutes. (This part is tricky because all emulsion and set ups are different) Play around with the distance & time screen is being burned if it doesn't wash out correctly.
STEP 7: (IN DARK ROOM OR ROOM LIT WITH YELLOW BULB) Remove the transparency. Wash out the screen using a showerhead or hose attached to the faucet. Don't use too much pressure. Wash out til the design is completely clear.If your design doesn't wash out you had the light on the screen for too long. If it washed out completely the light wasn't on long enough.
STEP 8: Let screen dry. Wait til completely dry and then tape around the edges/creases of the screen both sides to get it ready for printing.
PROCESS OF SILKSCREEN PRINTING:
STEP 1: Load up your screen on your press, make sure it is placed correctly to wear the image that is going to be printed.
STEP 2: On your platen or board, place palate tape or transfer tape down. After the tape is down coat the table with sticky-tack. Let dry for a few minutes.
STEP 3: After your screen is ready, load up your palate with the t-shirt and make sure the shirt is aligned where you want it to be and where the design will be printed.
STEP 4: Now that your t-shirt is loaded on the palate put some ink onto your screen. While your screen is not placed down yet, flood the screen with ink.
STEP 5: Now that your screen is flooded, place the screen down and squeegee the screen from one side to the other. Some people use a push technique and some use a pull technique. This will take some experimenting. Also this will take some experimenting with how many times to use the squeegee with the type of ink you have. Experiment, have fun!
STEP 6: Pull off your shirt from the platen and be very careful while doing it so that the ink on the shirt doesn't touch anything.
PROCESS OF CURING THE INK:
Before you wash your shirt, you need to cure it so the ink doesn't come out. First let the ink air dry. If you want to do it the DIY way and don't have many options, you can use an iron at home. Place parchment paper over the design and put your iron going back and forth for 30 seconds. Let cool off & repeat.
Or if you have a heat press place temperature on 340 place parchment paper over design & heat press for 30 seconds, two times.
If you have a conveyor belt heat dryer, use that.
Now your t-shirt is ready to be worn & washed hundreds of times! Congratulations on making your first t-shirt, and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us on Instagram @Whadafunk ! Thanks for reading. The printing process takes a lot of experimenting, so if you mess up at first don't get discouraged. Keep trying and you will eventually get it right!