Answers to 5 Common Screen Printing Questions

Answers to 5 Common Screen Printing Questions

Print expert Jamie Leinbach went live on Instagram recently to talk about printing with white plastisol ink on black garments. During the live stream, she answered plenty of questions from the audience. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions.

Jamie loves 156 mesh and printed the design using that mesh count. 156 mesh is versatile and lays down a good ink deposit while still keeping detail. Anywhere from 110 to 156 is a great option for most design needs. 

So when do you go higher? When a design calls for halftones, it’s time to increase the mesh count. Water-based ink also prints better through high mesh counts since it’s thin ink. When printing on a substrate that’s not super absorbent, like paper, use a higher mesh count. 

Low mesh counts, on the other hand, are perfect for thick inks like glitter ink and inks with large flakes, like FN-INK™ Metallic Gold. Many of these types of inks can be modified with a curable reducer, but a low mesh count will create a great print. 

Once screens have been chosen and burned, it’s time to set up the press for printing.

The amount of water-based pallet adhesive you use on a platen depends on your needs. Printing hoodies? Apply the adhesive in a couple of layers, flashing the layers in between to build up a tacky platen.

Jamie uses the equivalent of a teaspoon amount and spreads it around with an ink cleanup card. Flash the freshly applied adhesive for a few seconds to get it tacky and you’re good to go.

Dual tack platen tape is a platen tape that’s sticky on both sides. Printers don’t have to worry about applying adhesive to a platen after it’s been taped. This platen tape is a great option for many printers. 

While Jamie prefers water-based pallet adhesive and regular platen tape, dual-tack platen tape has a sticky adhesive that lasts a long time. This type of tape is great for hoodies, and many print shops choose this route. Jamie’s advice? Test it out and see which platen tape and the adhesive combo work best for your process. 

When registering prints with multiple colors, XYZ micros will help a ton. The X and Y micros control the left and right placement of the screen, while the Z micro helps adjust off-contact with just a turn of the knob. XY registration helps printers dial in multi-color jobs without needing to constantly take the screen out of the clamps. 

Jamie’s tips for registering multiple colors in one job is to register the underbase first, then the other colors. You’ll be able to see the underbase the entire time, so you’ll know whether you’re off or not. 

Pro Tip: Don’t want to ruin multiple test print shirts? Use registration tape to test print. If the registration is off, simply wipe off the ink or replace the tape. 

Jamie printed a single-color design using FN-INK™ White Plastisol Ink. She printed on the Riley Hopkins 250 Press and got a few questions about it.

The press you invest in for your shop depends largely on your printing needs and the size of your shop. A Riley Hopkins 150 is a great press for beginner printers and those with limited space. For printers looking for an upgrade, check out the Riley Hopkins 250. 

Jamie prints on the 250 6x4, because she loves the color options it gives her. With the 250, she can use her print space more efficiently by mounting the press to a press cart. The cart has slots for eight screens underneath, so she can store the screens for a couple of jobs at a time. 

For those looking to print on a Riley Hopkins 300, Jamie recommends having a 12’X20’ space to print. The press is a beast and will definitely become the focal point in any shop. Printers can trick the press out with customizations like side clamps and a laser guiding system. With the extra benefit of the Z micro, switching between garments within the same job is simple. 

Calculating the shirts cured per hour of a conveyor dryer is tricky. It depends on the amount of ink on the shirt, the dryer settings, and the type of garment itself. While an exact number is difficult to reach, the conveyor dryer can keep up with your process.

Jamie set the tabletop conveyor to the top belt speed. Since the tabletop dryer doesn’t have a temperature control, all she needed to do was wait for the dryer to heat up. Unless you’re printing a very small design — like a left chest print — the conveyor dryer will keep up with your production speed. 

Want more of Jamie’s pro tips for screen printing? Check out the live stream here, or head to our Instagram page for more. Join us in the next live stream to ask all your burning questions. In the meantime, check out some free courses on everything from screen printing basics to designing artwork.

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