Common questions on screen printing frames.

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Can I use wooden frames for screen printing?

Wooden frames are cheaper in cost but it cannot withstand high tension stretch, as it causes inward deflection and is highly prone to moisture absorption.

Wooden frames would loose tension faster during print production as well. It is best to invest in a quality frame that is at least 1.5″ thick with a correct wood-joint set-up.

What are the advantages of using aluminum frames?

Aluminum frames are more costly than wooden frames and are difficult to DIY. However, aluminum frames can withstand high tension stretch without issues of inward deflection nor warping.

Moisture absorption will not be a concern as well and although aluminum frames could eventually lose tension during print production, it will not be as fast compared to the wooden frames.

What are the advantages of using retensionable frames?

Retensionable frames are ideal for use on tonal print design, it reduces the elasticity of the mesh.

Screen mesh can be re-tightened preventing it from unwanted lateral mesh shifting within the frames and can be reused after screen reclaim. A lateral mesh (moving back and forth) movement within the frame causes smears and thinning out of the dots due to a low tension stretch.


Common questions on screen printing mesh.

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What is mesh count?

Mesh count refers to the actual count of threads per square inch/cm (in both directions). It affects ink deposit, images, and print quality.

Typically, for spot design prints, you can use as low as 25 mesh up to 300 mesh count or more depending on the type of inks that you can use and the line thickness and font size that you use.

For halftone prints, it is dependent on the dot size (LPI) of your design. The lower the LPI, the lower the mesh count. The higher the LPI, the higher the mesh count. It is also dependent on the type of ink that you will use. Water-based inks, with proper printing technique, can work well up to the minimum of 150-180 mesh. Plastisol inks can work well up to 355 mesh.

How can thread diameter affect print outputs?

Thread diameter refers to the actual diameter of fiber used to weave the fabric. It affects the thickness of ink deposits and strength of fabric.

Fine thread = superior print quality, due to less mesh interference

Fine thread = less durable, than heavier thread diameter.

For more ink deposit, what mesh count or thread diameter should be used?

The finer the mesh diameter, the bigger the mesh opening.

The finer the mesh count, the smaller the mesh opening.

For more ink deposit it is best to use lower mesh count and finer thread diameter.

For quality image, use higher mesh count, with finer thread diameter.

What are the types of screen mesh used for screen printing?

Monofilament Mesh:
Single strand, ideal for half-tone prints as it provides sharper image without the multi-thread interference. It is less prone to clog, ink trapping, and is easier to wash. Tension control is also achieved better.

Multifilament Mesh:
A multi-strand mesh that is more prone to clogging and requires frequent washing. It poses more problem with Organza type mesh.

What mesh counts should be used?

Here is a typical application for mesh counts:

24 - 30 Mesh : Glitter inks

60 - 85 Mesh : Athletic printing (player numbers, etc.), heavy white under base prints, thick puff inks, metallic inks, cold peel and hot transfers

100 - 155 Mesh : General printing on white to dark substrates for average artwork details with no fine lines or halftones and as overprinting on underbase prints for darker substrates.

160 - 195 Mesh* : Multi-colored printing for semi-detailed artworks or larger halftones on light colored substrates or overprinting on an underbase print on darker substrates.

200 - 230 Mesh* : For detailed multi-color printing projects on light colored substrates or as an overprint on underbase prints for darker substrates.

305 - 355 Mesh* : For detailed artworks with fine halftones. Used for simulated process of for CMYK process.

* Higher mesh counts are suitable for plastisol inks and 230-305 mesh counts will usually produce a desired result.

Water-based inks will fall under general mesh counts, which is around 100-155 mesh.

Why is quality screen mesh important?

1. It can support stencil/photo emulsion well.

2. It can provide edge definition, supports the artwork details.

3. It can control ink deposit or ink coverage, and color fidelity.

4. It regulates elasticity, off-contact, and provides an accurate artwork registration.

5. The thread of the mesh will least likely to run during heavy production runs.

Does the color of the mesh affect print output?

YES, mesh color affects the stencil image quality as it reduces light scatter and aids in higher image quality. It produces a finer detail and halftone prints on finer mesh.

What is the proper way to secure mesh on frames?

With staple wires, the blade of the staple can cut the mesh causing loose tension of the mesh. Using Frame Adhesives fastens the mesh surface area to the frame, secures it and protects the fiber from loosening up.

Why is having a low tension mesh such a big issue for production runs?

A low tension mesh can produce the following:

1. Increase the screen preparation time and artwork registration.

2. Cause high off-contact distance, producing less ink deposit, which will cause blemishes, streaks, non-uniformed coating, and pinholes.

3. Requires excessive squeegee pressure to allow more ink to penetrate to the substrate.

4. Ink flooding becomes difficult to achieve.

5. Wiping the substrate side of the screen happens more often in-between prints.

6. Highly prone to off-registration due to mesh movement, hence the prints will ten to splatter causing ink build-up and a slower production print.

7. The mesh deflects more on the center of the screen, which tends to make the applied stencil emulsion be thicker in the middle of the screen. This results in more exposure time in order to dry the thicker section of the stencil.

When stretching, do it slowly. Tension levels vary for every mesh count and thread type.

What is the ideal tension level for stretching a screen mesh?

A screen tension level would depend on the mesh count and the thread diameter.

A lower mesh count would require a higher stretch tension.


110 mesh / 80 micron = 30 N/cm +/-

While a higher mesh count would require a lower stretch tension.


305 mesh / 35 micron = 16 N/cm +/-)

Expect to incur an average of 25% loss of tension in time with a higher tendency for higher mesh counts. Brand new screens are tighter at the beginning of the print run and can get worse at the end of the print run. Hence, a newer screen mesh will have better print quality and would gradually decline as more print runs are done. Frequent screen reclaiming will also reduce print quality.


Common questions on screen printing squeegees.

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Can I use rubber crepe sole for screen printing?

RUBBER / CREPE SOLE is made of crude natural rubber used in most shoe sole. It is hard and tough to handle and to control and it has poor abrasion and poor resistance from strong solvent.

It is better to use POLYURETHANE SQUEEGEE, as it is made of synthetic plastic material that can withstand physical and chemical abrasion and has a durometer consistency and profile control needed in achieving ideal screen printing output

What is the proper way to hold and move the squeegee?

Top Grip

To minimize Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Numbness of fingers and thumbs), avoid doing “two-hand, top grip, pull towards print).

Use a special ergonomic squeegee or pad the handle with foam to allow your hand to hold wider.

Side Grip

Holding the squeegee by the side and pulling it towards you allows you to get good pressure when printing with thick inks.

What kind of squeegee should be used for more ink deposit or for less ink deposit?

A triple durometer squeegee, on the other hand, gives more control especially when the printer tends to exert more pressure while printing.

A wider (width) squeegee handle prevents ink from smudging on your fingers during printing.

The website FAQ page(s) contain questions frequently asked over the years and may be updated from time to time. The answers are provided as reference and it is intended to be helpful and of assistance. Under no circumstances should any information contained herein be construed as legal advices.