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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi. i'm fairly new to all of this. so far, i have tested the process using the following: (all homemade)

15x13 wooden frames
polyester/nylon fabric stretched
emulsion
speedball fabric ink
kitchen sink water sprayer
500 watt halogen construction style light
images printed on projector paper

while i've been fairly successful, i know there is a lot to work on. some questions i have:

(1) I've found that if I fail to rinse the ink off of the screen immediately after printing, it discolors the image (some ink seems to rest on the image). How can I make sure all of the ink washes out?


(2) How do I properly "set in" the ink without a fuse unit? dryer unit? Will it work (well) if I get a great iron and apply 3 minutes of heat after it dries? If I want to cure the shirt so I can lay down another color, do I need to buy some sort of heating unit? If so, what's my best option?

(3) The scoop coater? Highly recommended?

(4) Emulsion. Do you coat both sides? Necessary? If not, which side do you coat?

and, finally

(5) Pressure. When printing, what's your method? I've seen recommendations to "flood, then firmly sweep." How firmly?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I knew it... I do have one more question:

What do you use to stretch your fabric? How tight do I want it? Right now, I'm stretching and stapling with a staple gun, then applying a craft bond to seal it.
 

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(1) I've found that if I fail to rinse the ink off of the screen immediately after printing, it discolors the image (some ink seems to rest on the image). How can I make sure all of the ink washes out?
When you say "the image" do you mean the screen? Some discolouration is normal, and so long as there are no blockages it doesn't really matter. If you're using waterbased inks you should always wash out as soon as you're finished printing anyway, to avoid the ink drying in the screen.

(2) How do I properly "set in" the ink without a fuse unit? dryer unit? Will it work (well) if I get a great iron and apply 3 minutes of heat after it dries?
If you're using waterbased ink, yes.

If I want to cure the shirt so I can lay down another color, do I need to buy some sort of heating unit? If so, what's my best option?
With some designs you can print wet on wet. If you need to dry it, the cheapest thing would be a heat gun (or a hair dryer even), but the best thing would be a professional flash unit.

(3) The scoop coater? Highly recommended?
Yes.

(4) Emulsion. Do you coat both sides?
Yes.

Necessary?
The fact that some people succeed without doing both indicates no, but from everything I've read I'd still say yes.

(5) Pressure. When printing, what's your method? I've seen recommendations to "flood, then firmly sweep." How firmly?
Hard to describe in words, but I'd say not that firmly. If you're getting exhausted, you're using too much pressure. You only need to cause the mesh to make contact with the substrate and push the ink out - it shouldn't require much effort to do that really (if it does your off-contact is too high).
 

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What do you use to stretch your fabric?
There is equipment specifically to do that. One cheap alternative is to use a retensionable roller frame larger than the screen you are meshing.

How tight do I want it?
If you're doing it by hand, as tight as you can pull it without tearing. And even then, it might not be tight enough for multi-colour prints.

Right now, I'm stretching and stapling with a staple gun, then applying a craft bond to seal it.
If you're not already, you should be stapling at an angle to minimise the risk of the mesh tearing.

Screens are cheap though - personally I think it's better to buy them or have them professionally re-meshed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Solmu: thanks for all your help/input.
yes, when I wrote "image" I was referring to the screen... particularly the image, though. I'm using speedball ink. I'll check to see if it's waterbased.

I am using a 500 watt halogen work light, placed about 26-30 inches from the glass/image/screen. It's been taking at least an hour to burn. Does that sound right? If I raise the light, will it cut down on my burn time? Which exposure set-up (homemade) would you recommend? Thank you.

Lastly... what's your opinion on presses? Have you come across a solid, detailed description of one? Specs?

thank you. thank you.
 

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I'm using speedball ink. I'll check to see if it's waterbased.
I haven't heard of Speedball making a plastisol (though they might), so it probably is.

I am using a 500 watt halogen work light, placed about 26-30 inches from the glass/image/screen. It's been taking at least an hour to burn. Does that sound right?
I've never tried burning a screen with that kind of setup, but I've heard similar times here on the forums and elsewhere. One thing to watch out for is that some glass has a protective coating to help block UV; exactly the opposite of what you want when exposing a screen.

If I raise the light, will it cut down on my burn time?
Just the opposite. The further the light source the less energy will make it to the stencil.

Which exposure set-up (homemade) would you recommend?
Hmm, tough call. You can get better halogen sources than a worklight, but they're more expensive. If you are up for the DIY approach there are various plans floating around for a home-made exposure unit. Some use blacklight bulbs, some use old metal halide units from industrial lighting.

Lastly... what's your opinion on presses? Have you come across a solid, detailed description of one? Specs?
I don't really have any useful input on this, sorry. There are a lot of threads in the screenprinting section with people's favourite brands, brands they've had poor experiences with, etc. if you're looking to buy a press. If you want to make one, there's threads with plans for that too.

There's often a lot of emphasis around here on buying something really good. I'd certainly agree with that if you can afford to, but the fact is most printers start out on crappy equipment and make a go of it. It's harder and you have to be more creative to make it work, but if all you can afford is something low-end then I still think that's worth considering.
 

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Presses -- If you are doing multicolor work I suggest buy a professionally made one... If you're only using one color you can easily make one yourself without spending a fortune.

Emulsion -- I have found that coating both sides works best.. too many times when I coated one side the emulsion would peel away when washing out the positives.

Meshing -- A little trick I use sometimes is Hot Glue to get the mesh on the frame -- it can be a little messy but if you try a small one you can get the idea

Frames -- I make my own out of wood, it is cheap and easy to make
-- Tools needed:
1. Heavy Duty Staple Gun
2. Mitter Saw (used Craigslist )


Hope this helps -- Happy Screen Printing
 
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