How To Screen Print Your Own T-Shirts

How to reclaim screen printing frames step by step For those with only basic knowledge regarding screen printing, complex processes such as reclaiming screen printing frames can be quite daunting, frustrating, complex, and even downright infuriating if you happen to get the process wrong. Screen printing is basically a form of printing technique which makes use of a special woven mesh which is then used to help support a special ink blocking stencil to achieve your desired image. It can also be a form of stencil making in which designs and images can be imposed on materials of fine mesh, polyester for example, where the special ink is forced into any openings on the surface of the mesh material to give you your desired finish. Sometimes however, you may wish to reclaim your screen printing frames, which is where many people seem to run into trouble. In reality however, with the right tools, the right equipment, and the right knowledge, reclaiming screen printing frames can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. Here's a basic step by step guide:

Step 1 The very first step to reclaiming your screen printing frames is to remove any excess ink and other materials used on your frame.

Step 2 In order to remove the emulsion and any remaining ink used on your frame, you will need special chemicals and/or a dip tank. Simply place your screen printing frame carefully into your dip tank, making sure that it is fully submerged underneath the special fluids that will remove the ink, emulsion, and other materials from your frame, and leave it to soak for a few minutes.

Step 3  After 3 or 4 minutes, carefully remove your frame from the dip tank, shake off any excess fluid, and you should notice that the inks are already beginning to fade and come away from your frame. It should run away naturally, meaning you shouldn't need to rub, scrub, or use a spray bottle or anything similar at this stage. When it becomes necessary to scrub the emulsion after soaking the frame in a dip tank it means you need to add fresh chemicals in your dip tank.

Step 4 Here you will need a wash out booth, or an area in which you can basically make a mess, so don't try doing it in the centre of your dining room. You will also need a pressure washer, from here you can basically just go ahead and begin spraying away the ink/emulsion from your frame. It should spray away relatively easy after soaking in a dip tank.

Step 5 If you don't have the space or these tools and pieces of equipment, you can also reclaim your frame manually with a basic spray bottle and a little elbow grease. The pressure washer however, takes seconds, whilst the manual method of using a spray bottle and a little agitation with a cloth can take hours. Dip tanks, wash out booths, and pressure washers make the process much quicker and easier and can easily be found online, and from specialist screen printing companies.

Step 6 Once you're satisfied all of the ink/emulsion has been removed from your frame. There may be a remaining ghost stain. In that case you will need to dehaze your frame. See below article for dehazing steps.

Step 7 The last step (and a very critical step) is degreasing your frame and mesh. Degreasing is a mild soap that will take any remaining chemicals off your mesh so that emulsion will adhere to the mesh when you recoat your screens with emulsion. If you do not degrease your mesh your emulsion may have pinholes and premature breakdown. It's a simple easy step that ensures great stencil quality. And that's it. Set your screens in a dry area mesh down to dry so that you may recoat them with emulsion for your next print job.

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