What are some basic printing rules to follow when using a manual press?

Follow these printing rules on a manual press to better your chances of success.

  1. With the screen disengaged from the platen, the ink should be flooded with enough force to push the ink into the stencil in the screen past the mesh. This is the point where there is the least resistance from the mesh to allow the ink to fill the area. If this action is not performed, the printer is forced to print with perfect pressure to achieve an adequate print-a nearly impossible feat to achieve and maintain.
  2. Lower the screen onto the substrate and print with the least amount of pressure to allow a clean print. This is all relative to the ink’s thickness, however, and it is a good idea to do a few practice strikes to get a feel of what this pressure should be. A sharp-edge squeegee will aid in this action. If there’s too much pressure, the ink will not show as opaque and the surface will not be smooth.
  3. As the ink is printed, the off-contact should be adequate to allow the screen to separate from the printed image as the squeegee passes. This action is usually referred to as a peel.  This is also relative to the screen tension; the tighter the screen, the less off-contact is needed. Don’t be afraid to increase this off-contact level for looser mesh or thicker ink. If the screen does not separate from the image as printed, the screen can become attached to the print, thus lifting the fabric or creating an undesirable surface. In some cases, the ink can be lifted back off the substrate giving the appearance that the ink isn’t clearing the mesh.
Ray Smith

Ray Smith

Ray Smith has been in the screen-printing industry since 1978. He has been involved as an art director, production manager, plant manager and business owner. He re-joined Wilflex in 2008 as the applications lab manager. Smith is currently the senior business development manager at PolyOne.

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Charlie Fox

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