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Do screens retain tension?

  • Yes, they're fine for a few months.

    Votes: 1 25.0%
  • Yes, they're fine for about 6-12 months.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Yes, they're fine for more than 12 months.

    Votes: 2 50.0%
  • No, you should replace them after every run (or so).

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I don't know / You should use a heatpress, then blah blah blah

    Votes: 1 25.0%
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Discussion Starter #1
There have been a couple of passing comments on the forums here about screen printing screens losing their tension over time, but as far as I know no post devoted to the topic. Obviously a loose screen makes for a poor print quality, so the question is will time alone make for a loose screen?

What have people found with their own printing? Are you comfortable using the same screen for a long period of time? When do you retire a screen?

Does how it is stored, or how often it is used make a difference?
 

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I think one of the major factor in screens losing tension results from what type of screen you are using.

When I first started out...I used wooden frames with cord. They were cheap, but a pain to stretch and keep tight. Frames warped and frabric tension was poor. It did not help that constant washing with solvent.

I switched over to premade Irish Wood Frames and went to a pnuematic stretcher and a fast dry glue down system. In the years that I was in business, there were very few screens that I replaced...other than touching up a few pinholes.

I used shelving that allowed the screens to be stored like books, and the emulsion was a high solvent tolerant type from Kiwo.

At that time, Newman roller frames were the high end frames!

cotton
 

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We were lucky to acquire @ 200 or more frames when we bought a dryer. So, we have been keeping all of our designs on a set of frames and just keep cleaning these with A60 odorless blanket wash (printing industry solvent) and after using compressed air to make sure, the screens were open. Most designs have been in used for over a year. We taped but also used screen block liberally.
 

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If you look after them, use a high quality screen and a good racking system with environmental adjustment, they'll easily last a year or two (with a few minor pinhole touch-ups). If you use cheap screens, stick them in your shed, and let nature take it's course, you'll probably get a run or two out :) .

I've never had to retire and remake a screen before the print design was retired. Except for one which I dropped a mallet through. But that doesn't count.....
 
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