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How to Select the Right Screen Mesh Size
Selecting the correct mesh comes down to three key factors: your artwork, the tension of the screen, and the inks you are printing. In this blog post, we’ll explore the considerations you need to make to ensure a perfect print.
Choosing the correct screen mesh for your print is key to achieving high-quality results that will delight your customers. If you make the wrong decision when selecting your screen mesh, the outcome can mean that you get a saturated, fuzzy or broken print with areas of detail missing from the design.
What Screen Mesh Should I Use?
When selecting screens for the ink you’re planning to print, a great place to start is the technical data sheet as this will provide you with a recommended mesh count range. Some inks such as MagnaPrint® Aquaflex V2 can be used with a wide range of mesh counts, whereas metallic or reflective inks can be more limited in terms of the screen mesh counts you can use. This is down to the metallic or reflective particles contained in the ink. Using a too finer mesh can cause the particles in the ink to clog up the mesh or remain in the screen, leading to issues in production or lacklustre results on the printed fabric.
When exposing the screens for your artwork, in general it’s best to use lower mesh counts (or more open meshes) for under-bases and for large block areas of a design (e.g. text, logos, solid vectors etc.). When it comes to more detailed areas or halftones in a design you should use a finer mesh count.
The Importance of Screen Tension
Screen tension plays a huge part in maintaining a sharp print and accurate registration on the screen. Ideally, screens should be tensioned to 25-35 newtons per cm. When a screen becomes slack or loose on the frame, the wet ink will come into contact more easily with the screen and adhere to the mesh, when released it will leave a rough textured finish on the print. When it’s clear that a screen is longer useable, loose screens will need the mesh to be re-tensioned across the frame in order to maintain a high print quality.
How to Convert Your Screen Mesh Size
Screen meshes will usually be marked in either UK (normally marked T) or in US measurements. The UK size relates to the number of threads per cm of mesh. The US size refers to the number of threads per inch.
MagnaColours® technical data sheets will list the mesh counts suitable for use in both of these formats. We’ve put together this handy table below to help you with more size conversions.
Screen Printing Mesh Size Chart
|UK Mesh Sizes||US Mesh Sizes|
General Screen Mesh Tips
When printing samples at MagnaColours®, we will often use a mixture of 43 and 62T screens. 43T mesh (110) allows for a thick layer of ink to be put down, which is ideal for printing under-bases and block areas of a design. A 62T (158) mesh will lay down a slightly less ink, allowing you to capture the more detailed areas within the design. 120T (305) is used for extremely high detail areas within prints or fine halftones. It is also used for halftone colour process (CMYK) prints.
If you’re printing with MagnaPrint® HB or ND Extra inks, a higher mesh count should be used due to the lower viscosity of the inks, this will limit the volume of ink passing through the mesh onto the screen.
It should also be noted that when screen emulsion is applied to a mesh, lower mesh sizes will hold more emulsion in the fibres. While the volume of emulsion on the screen may not be noticeable, it can mean that your exposure time is adjusted slightly. it’s best to always test your exposure times with your emulsion and exposure unit when preparing a new mesh size for printing.
Learn More Screen Printing Tips
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