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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been having a very hard time getting my first coat of ink to go down good. I'm always left with lots of ink in the screen. If I do a print on a piece of paper or a pellon all the ink clears the mesh and the print comes out perfect. But when I do a print on a t-shirt it's a different story.

I have been doing one coat of emulsion on each side. I finally made a screen with two coats of emulsion for a white print and it is much easier to get the ink to go through the screen on the first print.

I finally got my white to look great. Now I'm working on black. I've tried 110 mesh and 156 mesh. With both I get ink that won't go through the screen on the first pass, but what does go through the screen is two thick. So I get this shiny plasticy effect because it's so thick, but then you can see holes in the image where there is very little ink.

Even doing clean up strokes (doing extra print strokes without re-flooding) doesn't do that much good in getting the rest of the ink out of the mesh.

I have two more screens on the way (might come today) a 196 and a 230 to try with black.

I'm going to try putting two sets of coats on the frames for black ink and the next screen I burn for white, I'm going to do 2 sets of coats followed by a third coat just on the print side.

I realize every emulsion is different and what not. I'm using Lawson SBQ-500. I just wondered how many coats others are using for white and black plastisols.

A lot of the printed materials I have read says to use only one coat.
 

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I would guess that its your squeege rubber,assuming you are not pressing down to hard.That can cause deflection , make sure you have a nice sharp squeege around 70 durometers.On a slight angle so you are shearing the ink.If you cant get black to clear on a 110 or 156 something else is wrong,not your mesh count.Also do you print on rubber plattens?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The platens are wooden. The squeegees I have are all brand new from Lawson industries. The edges are very sharp.

When I print on a piece of paper or a pellon every drop of ink clears the mesh. But when I print on t-shirts I have problems getting it through the mesh on the first pass.

I would guess that its your squeege rubber,assuming you are not pressing down to hard.That can cause deflection , make sure you have a nice sharp squeege around 70 durometers.On a slight angle so you are shearing the ink.If you cant get black to clear on a 110 or 156 something else is wrong,not your mesh count.Also do you print on rubber plattens?
 

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Your emulsion coating shouldn't effect the fact that you are not clearing the ink from the screen.Try checking your off contact distance,and also are you putting enough tshirt tack down on your platten to make sure your tshirt doesn't lift when you lift your screen away.
When you coat your screen try two passes either side of the screen, starting on the print side,finishing on the squeegee side, rotating the screen 180 degrees between each coat. This allows the emulsion to bridge the mesh and will give you sharper edges.Also dry your screen horizontally print side down.:)
 

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Rubber on the pallets are better to print on.But you should still be able to clear the screen.Like I said are you pushing down to hard?Is the ink stirred up and flowing?And if the squeege rubber is rock hard your going to have a harder time getting the proper ink deposit.Wish I could be more helpfull.See if you can get your hands on some platten rubber,your arms will thank me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've tried a lot of things. I've stirred my inks with a power drill and a 1.5" boring bit to get them as soft as possible. The squeegee blade are a medium thickness that Lawson puts in their beginner supply kits.

Right now, I am working on pull strokes. I've been doing push strokes because it felt more natural. I've been watching a bunch of different videos and most of them the either show pull strokes or primarily pull strokes.

So right now I'm practicing pull strokes on a piece of paper, and then I'm going to do a bunch of test prints and see if it comes out better.

Rubber on the pallets are better to print on.But you should still be able to clear the screen.Like I said are you pushing down to hard?Is the ink stirred up and flowing?And if the squeege rubber is rock hard your going to have a harder time getting the proper ink deposit.Wish I could be more helpfull.See if you can get your hands on some platten rubber,your arms will thank me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
From what I can tell my squeegee is a medium.

I may know what part of my problem was/is.

I was doing test prints in the garage and they were getting worse and worse. Then I went into the kitchen, drank a beer, went back into the garage and did one of my best prints ever. Which seems to be how it works for me.

I do a push print most of the time. Somewhere along the line (I know I've been doing this for at least the past week). I've been starting the squeegee motion further and further above the stencil, and ending further and further below it. So I was starting way at the top of the frame and ending way at the bottom (on 20"x24" frames). So I've been doing about a 20 inch sweeping motion even though my stencil's are only about eight inches tall. I've also been getting ink all over the frame as well.

When I started the squeegee about an inch about the stencil and then stopped an inch or so below the stencil, it comes out much better. I still have some ink in the mesh, but it's about 75% less.

Rubber on the pallets are better to print on.But you should still be able to clear the screen.Like I said are you pushing down to hard?Is the ink stirred up and flowing?And if the squeege rubber is rock hard your going to have a harder time getting the proper ink deposit.Wish I could be more helpfull.See if you can get your hands on some platten rubber,your arms will thank me.
 

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The answer to all "ink doesn't transfer through the mesh", problems is higher mesh tension.

Prove this to yourself by raising the off-contact of the screen that didn't work, and use your squeegee as a mesh tensioning device. Put something solid under the frame before you clamp the screen in place to raise it up.

Yes, this will elongate your image the higher you go.

If you find that your blade bends (drastically changing your blade angle at the lip), use a stiffer blade, so it isn't manipulated by the increased mesh resistance.


To prove this to yourself, print something with a metal putty knife. Yes, remove any sharp edges. Since you started with the stencil off-contact, then it finally touches the shirt, the ink will shoot through any mesh like toothpaste, from a tube. It will be caught between mesh that doesn't want to move and an immovable blade, plus, the mesh will pull itself from the ink film. Because you didn't press very hard on the shirt, you don't drive ink into the shirt - it lays a film on the surface.

The best screen printing combination for any ink is:

  1. High tension
  2. Stiff blade
  3. Low off-contact
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I don't have a tension gauge. However, most of my screens are American made wood screen from Lawson and I have one Aluminum one from Ryonet.

I have sort of a big plastic putty knife from Lawson for spreading ink on the screen. I should have some metal ones someone, because I did some painting a few months back and bought some. I'll hunt one up and try it.

The answer to all "ink doesn't transfer through the mesh", problems is higher mesh tension.

Prove this to yourself by raising the off-contact of the screen that didn't work, and use your squeegee as a mesh tensioning device. Put something solid under the frame before you clamp the screen in place to raise it up.

Yes, this will elongate your image the higher you go.

If you find that your blade bends (drastically changing your blade angle at the lip), use a stiffer blade, so it isn't manipulated by the increased mesh resistance.

To prove this to yourself, print something with a metal putty knife. Yes, remove any sharp edges. Since you started with the stencil off-contact, then it finally touches the shirt, the ink will shoot through any mesh like toothpaste, from a tube. It will be caught between mesh that doesn't want to move and an immovable blade, plus, the mesh will pull itself from the ink film. Because you didn't press very hard on the shirt, you don't drive ink into the shirt - it lays a film on the surface.

The best screen printing combination for any ink is:

  1. High tension
  2. Stiff blade
  3. Low off-contact
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've had a lot of people tell me to use "less pressure" or "light pressure" to get the ink to clear the mesh. I get horrible results unless I put fairly hard pressure.

One of the Ryonet videos on youtube gave me the best advice so far. The guy said that if your ink isn't clearing the mesh you need "more pressure, more speed, and more pop."

According to Lawson, the squeegees they sent me are 70.

Ryonet has these special ones that are ergonomically designed for use with the push stroke. (which is what I do anyway). I'm even worse at the pull stroke.
 

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If the mesh is in contact with the shirt HOW will more pressure make the ink come out?


More pressure will bend the blade. HOW will bending the blade make the ink come out?

Take your squeegee and make the black watch come out of this roll of tape. Stand on it, maybe that will work.



The only thing that will make the ink come out is to pull the mesh out of the ink film.

Did you raise the off-contact and print something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I tried every off contact from zero to about a quarter of an inch. It feels the most natural around the height of two quarters.

You suggested low off contact in an earlier post. I'm confused about what you are saying. Are you saying I should go higher?

I understand the stiff blade. I've been trying to do some prints while looking at the blade from the side and try different ways of keeping it straight.

If the mesh is in contact with the shirt HOW will more pressure make the ink come out?


More pressure will bend the blade. HOW will bending the blade make the ink come out?

Take your squeegee and make the black watch come out of this roll of tape. Stand on it, maybe that will work.



The only thing that will make the ink come out is to pull the mesh out of the ink film.

Did you raise the off-contact and print something?
 

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The best screen printing combination for any ink is:

  1. High tension
  2. Stiff blade
  3. Low off-contact
If you have a low tension screen, you have to compensate by raising the off-contact distance.

My friends at Ryonet told you:
"more pressure, more speed, and more pop."

With a high tension screen, "more pressure" is required to get the mesh to come in momentary contact with the shirt. "More pop", would be the unscientific term to describe the mesh pulling itself from the ink film.

The whole idea of making an experiment is to test different things. You have nothing to lose. If you got bored after raising your mesh to 1/2" and you like the 1/8" 2 quarters distance, then you have your answer. But I'll be you didn't have any trouble getting the mesh to contact the shirt.

You don't have a tension meter, so you don't know what high tension is. Does your mesh pull itself out of the ink film right after the blade, or does the ink hold the mesh to the shirt?



Yes, I want you to raise the off-contact distance and use the squeegee as a mesh tensioning device. Your 70 durometer blades will bend easier than a putty knife. 70 is not stiff, it's average. 80 and 90 is stiff.

I am advising you that as you raise your off-contact distance, the white ink will transfer through the mesh better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ok, I understand now. If I go lower than two quarters I get that effect where the mesh wallows in the ink on the shirt. You see like a ripple effect in the mesh. At two quarters distance it doesn't happen. Once I get too high I get some smearing, but it doesn't seem to make the ink go through better.

I'm ordering a Riley Hopkins 80 durometer squeegee that is supposed to be ergonomically designed to for the push stroke. I'll see if that helps at all.

I'm getting slightly better each day, but I still can't get a nice smooth full coverage in one print stroke. Sometimes I can do a print stroke, and then a second pass two clean it up and it will look pretty good.

The best screen printing combination for any ink is:

  1. High tension
  2. Stiff blade
  3. Low off-contact
If you have a low tension screen, you have to compensate by raising the off-contact distance.

My friends at Ryonet told you:
"more pressure, more speed, and more pop."

With a high tension screen, "more pressure" is required to get the mesh to come in momentary contact with the shirt. "More pop", would be the unscientific term to describe the mesh pulling itself from the ink film.

The whole idea of making an experiment is to test different things. You have nothing to lose. If you got bored after raising your mesh to 1/2" and you like the 1/8" 2 quarters distance, then you have your answer. But I'll be you didn't have any trouble getting the mesh to contact the shirt.

You don't have a tension meter, so you don't know what high tension is. Does your mesh pull itself out of the ink film right after the blade, or does the ink hold the mesh to the shirt?



Yes, I want you to raise the off-contact distance and use the squeegee as a mesh tensioning device. Your 70 durometer blades will bend easier than a putty knife. 70 is not stiff, it's average. 80 and 90 is stiff.

I am advising you that as you raise your off-contact distance, the white ink will transfer through the mesh better.
 

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The push stroke doesn't bend the blade. That's why many people like it. Try that style with your 70 durometer blade.

When you go higher, what do you think is moving that allows the image to smear. The mesh?

Point a finger on your right hand and move the skin on the back of your left hand. Now, tighten the skin on your left hand and your right can't move it. Imagine how the squeegee blade can manipulate the mesh.

If there are smears, the mesh is moving. Usually it will be on the bottom of images because you are stroking from the bottom of the shirt to the neck.


Often, the mesh will snap back when you are finished dragging the mesh with the blade - just like when you smooth sheets when you are making your bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm using two different platens for printing and full cure.

I have one of the logos four color table top presses, but I bought a platen with the neck cut out. I have the platen that comes with the press mounted to the table next to it for doing my full cure.

I tried to standing on something to get higher above the screen and it actually helped a lot. I have the press bolted to a workbench and the top of the platen is about 3'3" off the ground. I'm 5'9" myself. If I get about six inches higher above the platen I can maintain a more consistent angle with the squeegee.
 

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From what I can tell my squeegee is a medium.

I may know what part of my problem was/is.

I was doing test prints in the garage and they were getting worse and worse. Then I went into the kitchen, drank a beer, went back into the garage and did one of my best prints ever. Which seems to be how it works for me.
Then the answer to your problem is to drink more beer ;-)

Seriously, one thing I've found that works is to flood twice, then print. For some reason the additional ink in the well of the stencil seem to help pull ALL the ink out onto the shirt, especially when using higher mesh counts. It's gotten to where I rarely use any mesh count under 195. I just did a job with white ink on golden yellow shirts using a 305 mesh screen, and one pass of the white left a nice, solid white, with a very soft hand (or about as soft as you'll get with a solid area of plastisol white ink). Turned out nice. On royal blue shirts it took a print/flash/print, but still cam out relatively soft. The ink was QCM XOLB Glacier White 158. That stuff prints about as easily through a 305 as a 156, and a nice matte finish if you keep the curing temps long and low.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I've been practicing in my garage late at night. Seriously the more beers I drink the better it comes out. It's a re-occurring phenomenon.

I did encounter one side effect. Two nights nights ago I left the flash curing unit on all night long. I got out of the shower the next morning and went to the garage to get something out of the dryer and I'm like, "why the hell is it so hot in here?"



Then the answer to your problem is to drink more beer ;-)

Seriously, one thing I've found that works is to flood twice, then print. For some reason the additional ink in the well of the stencil seem to help pull ALL the ink out onto the shirt, especially when using higher mesh counts. It's gotten to where I rarely use any mesh count under 195. I just did a job with white ink on golden yellow shirts using a 305 mesh screen, and one pass of the white left a nice, solid white, with a very soft hand (or about as soft as you'll get with a solid area of plastisol white ink). Turned out nice. On royal blue shirts it took a print/flash/print, but still cam out relatively soft. The ink was QCM XOLB Glacier White 158. That stuff prints about as easily through a 305 as a 156, and a nice matte finish if you keep the curing temps long and low.
 

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Let's talk about making a screen for optimal coverage on a dark shirt. There are two main factors that come into play, those are mesh count and stencil (emulsion) thickness. For optimal coverage on dark you'll want to use a 110-156 mesh (156 mesh for more detailed designs). If you would like to print an extremely thick coat of ink (on a jersey for instance) you may consider using an 86 or even a 60 mesh. For most prints, a 110 mesh will work great! One of the main tricks to get great in coverage on a garment is stencil thickness. The thickness of your emulsion directly dictates the thickness of ink laid onto the garment. Picture your screen stencil as a well, it only holds as much ink as the well is deep. With one pass, the maximum ink coverage you will achieve will be the thickness of your emulsion. Coating the screen multiple times on the shirt side or outside of the screen will create a thicker stencil and thus yield more ink and better coverage. You must buildup your emulsion on the outside of the screen, if you coat the inside of the screen, then you'll have to push through the stencil and work against yourself. To make an optimal screen for white, coat the screen once on the outside and once on the inside, let dry, coat again on the outside, let dry, and coat one final time on the outside. Also it is best if you use the round end of your scoop coater to lay more emulsion down. Keep in mind that since you are using a thicker emulsion, you'll have to increase your exposure time in order to thoroughly expose the screen. We recommend using a dual cure emulsion for the easiest results and post hardening the screen after washout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I just made a screen using the rounded side of the coater for the first time.

Up until now, I have always used the sharp side because of the book "Screen Printing for such and such." The $40 one that everyone sells and is called the "screen printing bible." That book says "use the sharp side" and doesn't even tell you what the rounded side is for. The book also says it recommended only one coat on each side even if the emulsion manufacturer tells you to put more.

Well so much for that.

I did one coat on each side. Let it dry, then I did an extra coat on the print side. I knew something was different right of the bat, because my Saati exposure calculator showed that the screen was underexposed when my last one the exposure calculator came out perfect. Fortunately it didn't negatively effect the print area.

Anyway, the ink well is 2 to 3 times more noticeable than any of my other screens I've burned yet. I was very happy with the results. It has that cut out with an exacto knife look to it.

Kyle,
 
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