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Screen Drying Done Right: Best Practices and Benefits

We are screen printers; screens are the most important part of the screen printing process. A poorly made screen means bad quality print results and production downtime and cost overruns. When setting up a screen print shop you should always begin by getting all the right equipment and supplies to make professional screens for the press.

A proper screen drying cabinet delivers a clean, dark, dry, warm, dust free environment that maintains the proper "position" to dry screens which is all critical to exposure and printing success. Screens will dry properly in just minutes. This one device will make a huge impact on the success and quality of your screen print business.

One thing a drying cabinet should NOT be used for is to dry "wet" screens after reclaiming. Do not introduce a lot of moisture into that system, it's just for coated screen that need to be dried before exposure.

Start by obtaining a proper screen drying cabinet. Making your own drying cabinet usually creates more trouble than they are worth.

The facts about properly drying an emulsion screen:

When drying an emulsioned screen you must dry the screen with the print side facing the floor and the squeegee side facing the ceiling, exactly as it is when you print with it.

Gravity forces the emulsion to the proper side (print side) of the mesh leaving the heaviest layer on the print side of the mesh. The print side is what faces the exposure unit light source, it's the side that gets most of the light energy first. This improves screen making, reduces exposure time, increases the stencil well depth which leads to better ink coverage, etc..., a proper dying cabinet ensures this result.

The mesh layer between the emulsion layers (print side vs squeegee side) slows down light waves reducing energy by nearly 50%. This restricts the ability to expose emulsion properly if the heavier layer is on the wrong side of the mesh (squeegee side). The signs of an improperly exposed screen are the need to increase exposure time, the loss of fine detail and under-exposed (slimy) emulsion that washes down the drain. Sound familiar?

The right tool for the right job is best. A screen drying cabinet is a must have for all screen printers.



(c) Freehand Library Article / AccuRIP / Separation Studio NXT / Spot Process / Dmax / Amaze-Ink / DarkStar

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