5 Tips for Reclaiming Screens•
Prepping your mesh after printing is just as important as the print itself. Reclaiming screens can take a while but is worth the work. A good reclaim job is the difference between a pristine print and a screen with ghosting and stains. Follow these tips for a sure-fire way to nail your reclaiming screens process.
A painfully obvious, but necessary tip. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to reclaim screens back to their original state. When neglected, the inks on the mesh dry out and adhere to the screen. The dried ink can be almost impossible to clean at times, and often leave permanent stains in the screen.
To decrease the time and effort of reclaiming, do more than one screen at a time. This way, you can progress through the various stages – soak, remove, scrub, spray - quicker.
Don’t Penny Pinch on Chemicals
There are all kinds of options on the market for reclaiming screens. Some of those options seem extra attractive because of the cheap price tag. Steer clear of “generic” cleaning and solvent products. These products don’t work as well, and over time you will have to replace the screens faster than screens reclaimed with high-quality products. For example, with premium reclaiming chemicals you might only need to use half an ounce compared to the eight ounces you would need of the cheap chemicals to reach the same effect. The generic chemicals also take longer to take effect on the ink and emulsion. In the long run, using cheap chemicals actually costs more and takes longer.
Some Premium chemicals, like Easiway Easisolv 701N, can prep mesh in under two minutes. It can be used effectively as a screen wash, stain remover, and degreaser, making it super convenient for screen printers. For more on must-have printing products read, 5 Screen Printing Products that Won’t Break the Bank.
Underexposing is when there is insufficient screen exposure time. This causes the stencil to soften and degrade prematurely during the print run. The underexposed stencil is susceptible to hardening from cleaners during and after the print. This means that stencil remover cleaning supplies often cannot penetrate the stencil. Long story short, your screen will be left with a haze and stains which will require extra steps to the cleaning routine.
Keep Screens Tight
Loose screens allow leftover ink and emulsion to hide in the corners of your screen. By keeping screens at the proper tension, your screen will clean easier and more thoroughly.
Dry Screens Quickly
This tip can often be overlooked. Water droplets can leave marks on the screen which can interfere with future prints. The water can also break down wooden frames over time. To avoid these issues, place your damp screens in front of a sunny shop window or an area that has low humidity. Many people use fans, but this can spread dust and dirt around which would taint the newly cleaned screen.