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What roles do fabric, screens, and ink play when manual printing?

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Whether it is on a manual or an automatic press, the fundamental relationship between the above three components is most important in achieving trouble free and high-quality prints.

Fabric: When a printer gets an inquiry for a job, the first consideration is fabric composition. The material plays the most significant role in the decision process when it comes to ink, artwork, and the right mesh. For example, the difference between poly and cotton garments sends the decision-making process for art and screens in a different direction. The artwork may require less detail so it can translate better onto a lower mesh and additional flashing on press may be in order.

Screen: The screen is where it all starts in terms of on-press considerations. The first step in assuring a quality print is to achieve a clean image with the correct EOM (emulsion over mesh) as dictated by the manufacturer. Also, in most cases, the screen tension should be relatively tight, and printers need to follow the suggested screen mesh count for the ink.

Ink: Make sure the correct ink is selected, such as low bleed for polyester fabric, general purpose for a poly/cotton blend, etc. Also, we need to assume the squeegee durometer is within the correct range for this application.

   —PolyOne

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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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