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Durability of an exposed screen

747 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  TABOB
Im not really sure how to ask this but I was curious about the durability of emulsion/screens. Im a small scale printer, only few shirts here and there, so I tend to keep screens exposed and in use for several months, until I'm finished with them.
Previously, I had a screen exposed for about 6 months and when I reclaimed it, to the best of my ability, not all of the emulsion came out, left behind were tiny spots.
When I re-exposed it when a new image, some of that residual emulsion was in there. The new image still works as long as I press really hard when I coat the screen. I'm working with 110 Mesh, speedball emulsion and water based inks. I'm wondering if I just didn't use enough emulsion remover or if that's just how it goes, if you leave a screen exposed for that long?
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Upgrade your emulsion. Speedball is a hobbyist supplier. Get the pro stuff and you'll have less issues.
I have no experience with water based inks and how to best remove them from a screen but I'm going to guess that you are just not doing a thorough enough job in the reclaiming stage. I have reclaimed loads of screens but we only use plastisol so that is one variable someone else may need to chime in on.

As splathead stated, your subpar speedball emulsion may not be helping your cause but with the proper chemicals, elbow grease and pressure washer you should be able to remove all of the emulsion from your screen.

We let screens sit out in our shed for years without reclaiming them and have no problems when it is finally time.

Screen mesh is super durable from my experience, we use lots of screens that were stretched back in 1998 that i can reclaim and have no problem pushing ink through.

Sure up your reclaiming process!
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Emulsion can get permanently locked into the screen if it is not fully dried all the way through when exposed, not fully exposed all the way through, and/or exposed to chemicals. If your coat is uneven and sort of thick and gloopy in places, that part of the emulsion probably did not dry or expose all the way, and thus locked in the screen after being exposed to inks and cleaners.

Try for a thin, even coat.
Use mild heat and and/or dehumidifier (below 50%) to ensure emulsion is dry all the way through before exposing.
After washing out the exposed screen, completely dry it again. Then Post Expose it. Best and easiest is just to set it in the sun for 5 minutes. Else use your exposure unit for about 4 times the length of a normal exposure.

EDIT: I have reclaimed screens after 2 or 3 years of use. Length of time seems to make no difference, as long as the emuslion was properly dried and exposed in the first place.
I never keep the emulsion for long, but I have done some crazy experiments over the years, which did involve having to clean some really stubborn screens.
Go buy an 150 bar pressure washer and hit it with that.
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