Silk-screen printing seems to be frightening at the start. But it is much easier than it actually looks. The good news is that it is possible to launch a screen-printing business at home. It is not very expensive. We are here with this guide on how to use your silk screen printing machine at your own home efficiently. This step-by-step guide will instruct you on how you can run a screen printing job with the least amount of money and materials.
The primary idea behind silk screen printing is straightforward. It works as similarly as a stencil does. You do not need to cut out structures individually. You cover a screen in photo emulsion instead. After that, cut a design or logo out with a bright light.
Now we walk through the process in more detail. Let’s go…
Set Up a Silk Screen Printing Machine at Home
Step 0: Arrange Silk Screen Printing Supplies
At first, make sure that you already get all the silk screen printing supplies you need through the process. Here is a list of silkscreen supplies for the silk screen printing machine in order:
- Frame and screen
- Photo emulsion and sensitizer
- One 250-watt bulb
- Latex gloves
- Plain t-shirts on which you want to print
- A pitch dark room
- Silk fabric ink
- Cardboards to be fit inside the t-shirt
Step 1: Run a Trial to Design of Your Artwork with Your Silkscreen Printing Machine
Don’t go with the final product first. Instead, run a trial. Test with anything simple but having no thinner lines. There is a simple way to run; a standard silhouette with Photoshop. As its actual objective is to block the light, it will require you a solid black image. This image will need to be burnt into the emulsion (we will discuss it one of the next steps). After you successfully create an image, get imprinted on a transparent sheet with a laser printer. Now, go to the next step.
Step 2: Cover the Screen with Emulsion
There are two parts in an emulsion; the sensitizer and the emulsion. Notice carefully the label on the emulsion bottle. There is a direction here. In accordance with the instruction given, get them mingled together. Put your screen down on a garbage bag. Pour some emulsion mixer on the face of the screen and outspread it over the screen using the squeegee. Make sure that your emulsion mixer covers a bit extra area than the exact area of your image you want to print. You should do the process again and again until your screen is covered and you cannot see through it. You ought to choose a thin and even coated over the full screen.
Step 3: Expose Your Design on the Screen
Now, you will need to expose your screen to the light. Still, do not switch any light on in your previously arranged pitch-black room. Then, put a dark cloth or board down. Lay down your screen and framework using the screen side down on the pick of the black surface. Now, where there is your photo emulsion, put the transparent sheet with your design on it on your screen. Hook up the transparency sheet using scotch tape or simply put a piece of glass on it.
Move your lamp approximately 2-3 feet above from the screen. Angle the lamp using a 250-watt bulb at the transparent sheet with your design on it. Go out of the room. Here you should choose a desk lamp that suits best. If you cannot arrange a desk lamp, you can make a reflector with tin foil and put it above the lamp so that it can reflect the light down. Wait. Do not switch any light on. After about 15 minutes, enter the room and pull up the transparency sheet. You will see the designed image is burnt into your screen and faint blue lines there as well. If you like this, then clean off it. If you don’t like this, leave this and wait for a while and check again. But be aware of overexposure. It can make your design bleed.
Step 4: Clean Your Screen
It is time to clean your screen. Keep the screen under a hose, sink or a showerhead and splash with cold water. Carefully notice that if your image flakes off or not. Only when you can watch your image well, stop spraying. Grip the screen against the light to ensure it looks exactly like your transparency. Wait until the screen is dry. After it is dry, coat the exposed portion of the screen with scotch tape.
Step 5: Finally Print It
Put your cloth on a flat surface. Stuff square sized cardboard on the inner side of the t-shirt where you want to print. Lay down the screen on the t-shirt with the image where it will be printed.
Spill a little amount of ink horizontally over the top of the screen. Move your squeegee smoothly down the screen. Exert pressure gradually. It is good to run a test print on a scrap paper instead of using your target garments. Move your squeegee up-down and left-right for a couple of times. It pushes the inks through onto the clothes.
You are almost to finish. Pull your screen up and cardboard out. It is a good idea to send your t-shirt into the oven and keep it in 400 degrees for 30 minutes. It will make sure that the design sticks on the shirt for a long time.
Step 6: Wash and Clean-up
As the screen printing inks dry soon, you can wash the inks just after printing is done. Clean your screen well as you can use it further. If you intend to print a completely different design, clean the screen with emulsion remover.
Manual screen printing is time-consuming and complicated where there are lots of automatic digital screen printing machines available on the market. As it is completely a manual process, it creates risk and difficulty in every step. After all, once you get used to this method, it will be easier. In spite of this, digital screen printing machines that range from lower to higher prices would be a better option for your size of business. Today we investigate some t-shirt printing machines at a reasonable price for your business.
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