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I am new to screen printing and have heard a thing or two about paying attention to mesh counts. I understand that you can buy screens with different mesh counts but exactly how does it pan out?

Are there different thinknesses in different inks? Is there a universal mesh count that works pretty well with all inks? Does the mesh count really even make much of a difference in the print...enough that I should be concerned?

Thanks everyone.
 

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Ayres Clothing said:
I understand that you can buy screens with different mesh counts but exactly how does it pan out?
Higher number = more lines per inch = less ink deposit, but more detail.

As an example high mesh counts are used on paper (where you need high resolution and not much ink), low mesh counts are used on dark fabrics (where you need a larger ink deposit, and will have to put up with the resultant loss in resolution). Obviously there's a range of variables in between.

Different substrates and different designs call for different mesh counts.

Ayres Clothing said:
Are there different thinknesses in different inks?
Yes.

Ayres Clothing said:
Is there a universal mesh count that works pretty well with all inks?
No, although there are standard mesh counts that are used a lot more than others.

You're not likely to be going between waterbased and plastisol inks, so once you've worked out what you're printing with you can work out the appropriate mesh count. You shouldn't need to stock a range at first.

Ayres Clothing said:
Does the mesh count really even make much of a difference in the print...enough that I should be concerned?
Yes.

Screenprinting shops will have a wide variety of mesh counts and pick and choose the best for the job. Smaller outfits and home printers will generally have one or two different counts at most. You just need to be aware of the limitations though. For example some specialty inks are meant to be printed in a thin layer, and will require a higher mesh count than normal. Some will require a thicker deposit to have the desired effect and require a low mesh count. You can buy an appropriate screen when it comes time to print a job that requires a different count (or experiment with the screens you have - for best results you may use X instead of Y, but both may give a reasonable print).

Ink manufacturers will often list the recommended mesh count to be used with their inks.

This has come up a few times before, so a search for mesh count on the forums will give you more information (it probably won't answer all your questions though, so feel free to post followup questions and hopefully someone can clarify for you).

Mesh count measurement varies between imperial and metric, so if you're reading about mesh counts be careful the writer is using the same scale you'll be using (or you could buy a bunch of less than useful screens :)).
 

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I'm using metric measurement and waterbased inks, so I can't really help you on specifics, sorry. I think you want around a 110, but that is from memory and could be completely wrong.

There are a few ways you can find out though:
1) Pickup a quart of Plastisol and read the label. Most inks I've seen give a recommended mesh count (it might not, but no harm checking).
2) Check a manufacturer's website and see if they give recommendations there.
3) Look at a screen supplier's website - they may only offer one or two mesh counts (which would give you a good hint ;)) or they may state a recommendation.
4) Go to your screen supplier in person and simply ask them. It should be an easy/common question for them and they should have no problem helping you out.
5) Google
6) Wait for someone who knows more to post here

When I first went to my local screen print supply shop to talk to them, they ran over a few of their products for me, and pointed out I would need 43t mesh for textiles and 90t mesh for paper printing. In my case I already knew that, but at least it confirmed for me that they were giving me good advice :) When I went to a smaller art supply store they only stocked three mesh counts (the proper supplier has fifteen), so with them you would have a two in three chance of picking a reasonable option (or you could ask the guy behind the counter for advice :)).

If you have a good supplier you should be able to trust them. If they tell you you need ten different meshes they're gouging you, but if you say something along the lines of "I'm new, I'm printing on t-shirts, I don't really know what kind of screens I need - can you please tell me?" they should give you the answers and not make you feel like you're asking stupid questions (you're not).

I asked some pretty stupid questions of my supplier, and I got good answers. They're there to help, because that means sales for them.
 

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Id really reccomend the follwing book covers everything on screenprinting and even on heat pressing. But i have the follwong of screens and have heard others (thats why i have the following) 110, 156, and 230.
 

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opps forgot to post title of book....How To Print T-shirts For Fun And Profit.....covers everything from marketing to press plans and every basic thing between and images help, good investment.
 

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In order to best answer your question I need to know a few things .
What is the fabric you are printing on?
What printing method are you using ? (manaul/automatic )
and what type of feel do you desire for your print, heavy/soft.
 

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pepscreen said:
In order to best answer your question I need to know a few things .
What is the fabric you are printing on?
What printing method are you using ? (manaul/automatic )
and what type of feel do you desire for your print, heavy/soft.
I will be printing on cotton t-shirts using a manual press. I don't really have a preference in the print....probably lighter, but I want it to be a quality print still. I am doing custom printing for others...so what would you recommend if I am printing for people that won't know the difference probably? Thanks
 

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if you're doing something that has fine lines or details, use a high mesh count. we have some here that are REALLY high and hard to push certain colors through (mainly white), but the prints always look so crisp. we use higher mesh counts for chest prints because they're small. no one wants a blob on their chest. be prepared for some sore arms and abs... and fingers.

a good "all-purpose" range is 110-120. it'll allow you to play around with pressure, how many passes with the squeegee you should make, etc.

water based inks are good to practice with and a lot easier (and lesss stinky) to clean up than plastisols. just make sure to clean the screen really well after using them, they will clog it and make you so sad.
 

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Ayres Clothing said:
I am new to screen printing and have heard a thing or two about paying attention to mesh counts. I understand that you can buy screens with different mesh counts but exactly how does it pan out?

Are there different thinknesses in different inks? Is there a universal mesh count that works pretty well with all inks? Does the mesh count really even make much of a difference in the print...enough that I should be concerned?

Thanks everyone.
Att: Ayres Clothing
As a general rule print when printing with a manaul printer on dark garmets 50/50-100 % choose a good creamy ho series ink with a low flash point, stir the ink well and use 110-160 mesh count for a soft feel or 65-80 mesh for a heavy feel or specialty inks, glitter, some puffs, ect. always print off contact about the space of a quarter, and use a frim sharpe squgee. use just enough pressure to clear the ink from the screen, when using half tones you must try not to use excess pressure because this will cause the half tones to mash and loose their shape. When printing a 2nd color over the top of the first use a higher mesh count 140-180 same squgee rules.
Now printing on light colors , use a standard plax ink and mesh counts of 110-180. 110 for simple prints 160-180 for wet on wet printing paying close att- to squgee pressure. Good luck!
 

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Patrick, I'm in the same boat as you...small company. Right now I have 110's, 135's and I'm planning on getting some 160's and that should cover everything I need to do. None of my designs have halftones and are a maximum of 3 colors. I also use plastisol ink.

Like others have stated above when printing on a dark garment with my 135 screen I had to hit the shirt then flash dryit then hit it again to put another layer of ink on top. You can also look into Union Ink's Maxopake line, they are very thick and can put down a nice layer of ink for dark shirts.
 

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identityburn said:
You can also look into Union Ink's Maxopake line, they are very thick and can put down a nice layer of ink for dark shirts.
yeah, we have pretty much all union inks, lots of maxopake. they're really thick, but you can "warm" them up with a super small squeegee (the kind they use for vinyal decals work really nicely). i've managed to run them through a mesh of 260... albeit, my hands and arms were quite sore after that job...
 
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