Screen printing is undoubtedly one of the most popular printing techniques, used in a vast range of industries to create custom apparel, artworks, and many more while using an extensive choice of colors. However, screens are quite an expensive investment, leaving screen printing shops to wonder about their reusability. So, can you reuse screen printing screens for your next project, or do you need to get a new screen with each new, intricate design?
Stick around to find out if you can bring your screen printing screens back to life and what steps to take to maintain them.
Can You Reuse Screen Printing Screens?
So, can you reuse screen printing screens? Yes, screen printing screens can be used multiple times, but only if properly cleaned. In fact, once the design has been printed, the screen can be cleaned and reused for a new design.
The whole process of screen printing screen reuse is very important to our screen printing team. If you want flawless design and efficient service, we will give you the best contract printing services that you have in mind.
But is there an exact time frame for how many times can you use a screen printing screen? Although you can reuse a screen multiple times, knowing how to properly care for it, the type of ink used to print, and the quality of the screen can help you maximize the life of your screen.
Maintenance of Screen Printing Screens
To extend the life of your screen printing screens, you should pay special attention to their maintenance. However, before we move on to the steps that are essential for maintenance, you should know the purpose of maintenance.
Depending on whether you will reuse or reclaim the screen for screen printing, there are different procedures. Therefore, in the following, we will describe in detail all the procedures and steps that you need to do, regardless of which type of maintenance you decide on.
Reusing The Screen Printing Screens
For reuse, the cleaning procedure is quite simple. Before starting the procedure, keep in mind that it is not necessary to remove the tape from the sides of the screen.
The first thing you need to do is to clean up any excess ink that was left during printing. You can do that with a rag or a dry cloth. After making sure there is no excess ink, spray the screen with a cleaning solution. Wipe with a dry cloth to such an extent that the emulsion can see through.
If you plan to use the same color for the next print, the screen does not have to be cleaned as carefully as we mentioned above.
Reclaiming screen printing screens
Reclaiming screen printing screens is an effective way to extend the life of the screen for your next design. The whole process is quite easy if you follow the steps that we will show you below:
What you’ll need
Before starting the reclaiming process, collect the necessary materials. You’ll need:
- cleaning chemicals
- a high-pressure water source
- clean brushes, scrub brushes
- a washout booth to rinse the screen
Do not neglect your safety; use protective glasses and gloves, and perform the process in a place with good ventilation.
Remove excess ink
Remove the excess ink off screens in a dedicated space so no ink goes down the drain. Use an ink spatula or anything you may find to successfully remove the excess ink from the screen. If there’s any ink residue, use a rag to ensure that the ink is completely removed.
To continue with the process, place the screen on a washout booth, and let’s get started.
Use an ink degrader
After removing the excess ink, add an ink degrader and water-based ink degrader for water-based inks to the screen before you remove the emulsion. Spray the chemical on the screen, wipe with a rag or cleaning cloth, and let the ink evaporate.
For water-based inks, pour a specified amount of the water-based ink degrader onto the screen, scrub the sides of the screen, and then rinse with high-pressure water to remove any remaining pigment from the area.
After successfully removing the ink from the screen, you need to apply an emulsion remover. All you have to do is spray the emulsion remover onto the screen. Use a scrub brush and rub in circular motions on both sides of the screen until the stencil starts to soften. Be careful while scrubbing since you may pop the mesh out of the screen.
Lastly, let the screen for 30 seconds for the emulsion to loosen. Without letting the emulsion completely dry on the screen, apply a water pressure at 12 inches away (anything over 12 inches may damage the mesh).
For extra assurance that your screen print will be ready for the next design, it’s a good idea to use a mesh degreaser. Add a small amount of the degreaser to both sides of the screen and clean in a circular motion. In addition, In order not to impair the quality of the screen, use a brush with soft bristles.
Dry the Screen Printing Screen
After removing the degreaser with a power washer, allow the screen to dry naturally. For this purpose, you can place the screen near an open space, a window, or a space that has low humidity.
So, what about it? Can you reuse screen printing screens? Although there’ll come a time when you’ll need to replace your screens, luckily, you can use them multiple times before they deteriorate to a point where they start to interfere with the print quality.
Regarding their maintenance, we have to say that reclaiming screen printing screens has never been easier as long as you follow the steps outlined above. Moreover, if you have a perfect design in mind, our team at Thrive Screen Printing is always ready to realize it according to your wishes.