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Handbook for screen printers
Published by: Sefar Inc. Printing Division
Handbook for screen printers
Sefar Inc. Printing Division CH-9425 Thal/SG Switzerland February 1999
Copyright by SEFAR
Welcome to this, the first edition of the Sefar Screen Printing Handbook. It is intended as a comprehensive, up-to-date reference work for screen printers. Written by and for screen printers, it aims to cover all aspects of the screen printing applications. WE SHARE OUR KNOWLEDGE: This is a cornerstone of the Sefar Group’s business philosophy. In this book, we offer a comprehensive body of reference material to screen printers. We have always considered customer feedback essential to our success as mesh manufacturers. This handbook is an ideal reference to our screen printing courses and customer-specific training programmes. We have gathered the knowledge and experience of Sefar’s application technologists. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this book and provided text and illustrations.
Sefar Inc. Printing Division Applications Technology Thal
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
5 2.1 3. Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.18 1.5 4.17 3.1 1.7 1.13 3.5 1.6 Preparation Marking stretched frames Adhesives Gluing the fabric to the frame Screen storage Stretching services ii Contents © Copyright by SEFAR.22 2.16 1.1 1.4 1.1 4.1 1. 2/1999 .4 1.2 2.7 1.1 4.6 1.20 1.7 3.6 4.2 1.1 3.1 4.21 4.8 Hand stretching Mechanical stretching Pneumatic stretching Stretching at an angle Multiple stretching Correct stretching Recommended tensions Sefar tension control instruments 4. Screen printing frames 2.12 3.3 2.1 2.4 4.1 2.6 1.3 2.2 3.1 2.6 3.6 3.8 Raw materials Physical fabric properties Elongation characteristics of polyester fabrics Geometry of screen printing fabrics Coloured screen printing fabrics Calendered screen printing fabrics History and development of screen printing fabrics Conveyor belts for textile printing dryers 1.15 3.3 4.1 3.5 3.Contents 1.2 4.5 4.2 4. Stretching 3.7 3.4 3.3 1.4 Materials used for screen printing frames Sections Frame size Pre-treatment of frames 3.2 3.3 3.3 4.6 2. Gluing 4.
6 8.15 6.10 Exposure 6.1 6.6 6.7 6.3 7.5 8.3 5.6 6.8 6.5 Summary of key recommendations Problems of accurate register The diapositive The stencil The printing substrate 8.1 7.4 7.28 6.11 8.1 8.4 Manually made diapositives Photographically made diapositives (films) CTS (Computer to Screen) Tips for external production of diapositive films 5.1 8.29 7.1 7.14 8.1 5.1 7.2 7.17 6. Stencils 6. 2/1999 Contents iii .1 6.14 6.7 8.4 7.2 5.13 Influence of coating thickness on print sharpness 6.12 Rinsing 6.1 5. Diapositive manufacture 5.19 6.4 8.9 Pre-treatment of screen printing fabrics Mechanical stencils Photomechanical stencils Direct stencils with emulsion Troubleshooting direct stencils with emulsion Stencils for water-based inks Direct stencils with film and emulsion Direct stencils with film and water Indirect stencils 6.3 7.1 5.2 5.3 6.25 6.1 5.4 6.25 6.15 Hardening stencils for printing water-based colours 6. Register 7.2 8.10 8.11 Step exposures 6.1 6.2 8.2 6.7 6. Raster printing 8.26 6.4 6.1 8.4 8.14 6.1 6.5.3 8.5 6.22 6.2 7.7 AM raster (amplitude modulated rastering) FM raster (frequency-modulated rastering) Types of raster rulings Raster ruling Tone values of half-tone dots Raster printing process line Printing control strip © Copyright by SEFAR.4 6.5 6.14 Influence of stencil thickness on ink volume 6.16 Reclaiming 7.
2 10.32 9.13 Objectives of heuristic half-tone printing 8.5 10.11 9.15 10.3 10.31 8.5 9.6 9.5 11.1 10.3 10.1 9.8 9.1 10.1 Coating thickness 10.16 8.7 Grindometer for measuring particle size 10.10 General recommendations 8.26 8.13 9.8 8.13 9.2 Roughness 10.4 Hardness meter (Shore measuring instrument) 10.10 9.3 9.12 Heuristic rastering for textile printing 8. Recommended choice of fabrics iv Contents © Copyright by SEFAR.8 Recording thermometer/hygrometer 11.7 9.9 Types of stencils Avoidance of moiré effects 8.1 9.14 Technical considerations 9.2 9.2 9.16 8.4 10.9 Setting up of a flat bed machine The squeegee Flood bar (Doctor blade) Printing speed Object printing Single operation multiple colour printing Ink deposit UV inks Printing systems 8. Measuring instruments 10.4 9.5 Viscosimeter 10.14 9.11 Improved printing stability through achromatic reproduction 8.4 9.12 9.8.4 10.6 Wet coat thickness 10. 2/1999 . Printing 9.20 8.3 Radiometer (incident radiant energy measurement) 10.1 10.23 8.
Precision weaving techniques. These stencil fabrics offer increased process reliability. PA for polyamide. abbreviated to PET They both belong to the group of polycondensation or polymerisation fibres. Note: This book uses the abbreviations PET for polyester. abbreviated to PA 6. and significantly higher tensioning that is retained over large print runs and long periods of time. shaped objects). 1. Stencil films and emulsions adhere better to polyamide fabrics than normal polyester fabrics.1 . 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1. This makes them highly suitable for printing abrasive media (ceramic colours.1 Raw materials Physical properties The raw materials generally used for screen printing fabrics – ”stencil carriers” according to DIN 16610 – are monofilament chemical fibres made of synthetic polymers. The group to which they belong governs the fibre’s physical properties. The stencil fabric’s high elasticity makes it easier to print uneven surfaces (e. Polyamide fabrics (nylon) have exceptional mechanical durability. Polyester PET The main properties of polyester fibres are: – high resistance to stretching – good mechanical durability – good abrasion resistance © Copyright by SEFAR. reflective inks). The material’s reduced elasticity enhances the already good properties of standard fabrics. results in excellent fabric quality. Monofilament screen printing fabrics Standard polyester fabrics make ideal stencil material for screen printing.1. The fibres most frequently used are: – Polyamide. Polyester fabrics woven from high-viscosity polyester are a further development of standard polyester fabrics. using state-of-the-art equipment optimised for screen printing applications.6 – Polyester.g.
2 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR.40 3.dry .260 220 .240 Dry heat up to 150°C Continuous exposure Good to very good Good 1.95 20 .35 25 .235 Colour change from white to yellow.4 45 .5 .30 15 .6 Polyester PET (nylon) monofilament monofilament 1.38 41 . Low to average Very good 240 . tenacity (wet) % Elongation at break % .30 0.4 Specific gravity Tensile strength in daN/mm2 (dry) Rel.253 225 . Fibre properties Polyamide PA 6.67 90 .– high resistance to light – insensitivity to climatic factors Other properties are listed in the table "Fibre properties” below. 2/1999 .wet Moisture absorption % at 20°C and 65% rel. The degree of change and strength reduction depends on the temperature and reaction time.14 1.75 100 15 . humidity Melting point °C Softening point °C Temperature resistance °C (approximate limiting temperature under dry conditions) Resistance to light and weather Abrasion resistance 247 . Polyamide PA (Nylon) Polyamide fibres are excellent in the following respects: – very good mechanical durability – high abrasion resistance – good surface-tension characteristics – high elasticity – good dimensional recovery characteristics (100 % following 2 % elongation) Other properties are listed in the table ”Fibre properties” below.
temperature and reaction time. temperatures and reaction times Formic acid Ethanoic acid b) Alkalis generally Sodium hydroxide Potassium hydroxide Unaffected Good.Limited.3 . temperature. dependent on concentration. poor dependent Unaffected at normal room temperature. Polyester Sensitive to alkalis Fibres can be weakened to the point of destruction. Highly resistant to inorganic acids. temperature and reaction time.6 Polyester PET (nylon) monofilament monofilament a) Acids generally Sulphuric acid Hydrochloric acid Nitric acid Limited – poor Reduced resistance or dissolution.Unaffected dependent Good. Good resistance to alkalis. concentrations and reaction times c) Solvents generally Good resistance to common screen printing solvents Remarks: Polyamide (nylon) Good resistance to common screen printing solvents Sensitive to acids Fibres are either weakened or destroyed. depending on concentration. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1. weakening at higher temperatures Soluble at higher temperatures. temperature. © Copyright by SEFAR. temperature and reaction time Soluble good Unaffected at low concentrations.Chemical resistance Polyamide PA 6. depending on concentration.
2 Physical fabric properties Screen printing fabrics with differing properties can be produced from the same fibre group by modifying the fibre and/or fabric manufacturing processes. In any screen printing application. printers must then choose between polyamide (nylon) or polyester fabric. important when the substrate has an uneven or irregular surface – selecting a fabric type appropriate to the requirements of the printing parameters Having decided which fibre type to use. Polyamide fabric PA 1000 Nylon fabrics were the first and most enduring monofilament chemical fibres to be used in screen printing. nylon fabrics still remain viable in certain areas of today’s screen printing industry.4 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. thanks to their desirable properties: – good mechanical durability – good abrasion resistance – good surface-tension properties – relatively high elasticity 1. the elongation characteristics of the screen printing fabric are crucial. 2/1999 . Elongation characteristics govern: – tensioning procedure – mesh strength – mesh stability Elongation characteristics have a direct influence on usage characteristics such as: – register and dimensional precision of the printed image – snap-off behaviour – conformance with the object to be printed.1. Although a relatively old technology.
with sufficient elasticity to conform with uneven substrates. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1. abrasion resistance.Modified polyamide fabric PA 2000 This type of fabric combines the properties of regular polyamide (nylon) fabrics – good mechanical durability. Property Low elongation Practical benefits • Good tensioning behaviour • Good snap-off behaviour • Good registration accuracy • Suitable for long print runs • Good reclaiming and re-use characteristics • Very good ink penetration • Fast ink release → high speed printing • Good reproduction of detail • Good dimensional stability • Rapid drying after cleaning. and surface tension properties – with lower elongation. coating and developing High mechanical durability and chemical resistance Smooth fibre surface Resistant to changes in climate (humidity / temperature) © Copyright by SEFAR. The benefits: Improved snap-off and ink release. Correctly handled. Polyester fabrics The classic stencil substrate for screen and textile printing. it can be used in a wide variety of applications.5 .
and are conducted using tension testing machines under constant controlled conditions.Modified polyester fabric PET 1000 Monofilament polyester fabric with reduced elongation.6 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. The graph shows the relationship between the tensioning force and the resulting fabric elongation. 2/1999 . Property Very low elongation Practical benefits • Able to withstand high tensions • Good lift-off and ink release characteristics with minimal off contact • Increased registration accuracy • Consistent accuracy over long print runs • Modest reduction in tension with use • Longer production life 1. 1. The elongation characteristics are vital to the performance of the stencil system. including the force and elongation just before the sample tears. This is illustrated in the force/elongation diagram above.3 Elongation characteristics of polyester fabrics High-modulus polyester Tension (N/cm) Standard polyester Fabric elongation (%) Force/elongation characteristics of screen printing fabrics manufactured by Sefar AG from monofilament synthetic fibres. also known as ”high-modulus fabric” is distinguished from regular polyester fabric by its low elongation and mechanical resistance. Tensioning tests are an integral part of SEFAR’s quality control.
The flat surface of a fabric is the result of weaving perpendicular warp and weft threads. © Copyright by SEFAR. abbreviated to (w) – mesh opening in %. Fabric geometry directly affects: – printability of fine line and half-tone images – edge definition in the print – ink release characteristics – maximum printing speed (in conjunction with ink viscosity) – thickness of the ink volume – ink consumption – ink drying The following values. referring to the diameter of the unwoven thread. fabric geometry is of greater importance than the elasticity character.and three-dimensional aspects of the fabric’s structure.4 Geometry of screen printing fabrics Fabric geometry describes all two. When selecting fabric for a particular application. The fundamental geometrical unit is the fabric pitch (t). 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1. Mesh count is specified as the number of threads per cm.1. abbreviated to (Vth) are all derived from the mesh count (Fn) and the thread diameter (d). A high quality fabric is characterised by extremely close tolerances for both the overall mesh count Fn. This value is calculated as follows: t = 10'000/Fn. The basic factors in fabric geometry are mesh count and thread diameter. such as – mesh opening in µm. abbreviated to (ao) – mesh thickness (fabric thickness) in µm.7 . Sefar AG products guarantee the closest fabric geometry tolerances. listed in technical datasheets. The thread diameter is specified as a nominal value. abbreviated to (D) – theoretical ink volume in cm3/m2. these are published in the technical datasheets. as well as mesh counts in the warp and weft directions. Pitch (t) is the sum of one mesh opening and thread diameter (t = w + d).
2/1999 . each with a nominal thread diameter of 34 µm. The nominal thread diameter refers to the diameter of the unwoven thread.8 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. New nomenclature 120-31 120-34 120-40 150-27 Old nomenclature 120 S 120 T 120 HD 150 SL Mesh type description W Y = White = Yellow CY = spun dyed. ”Mesh type” is a relatively new term that replaces the widespread SL/S/M/T/HD nomenclature. together with the thread diameter. Example: 120-34 indicates 120 threads per cm.Mesh count and thread diameter The terms ”mesh type” or ”fabric number” are similar descriptions of the mesh count per centimetre / inch. yellow PW = Plain Weave TW = Twill Weave OSC = One Side Calendered Example: PET 1000 140-34Y PW OSC Calendered Plain Weave Yellow Thread diameter Mesh-count Quality Material 1.
2 17.0 29.2 16.0 3.4 µm 49 49 55 55 65 65 41 47 47 55 55 62 62 +/.0 11.6 9.0 35.99» Weight of fabric Fabric thickness Open area © Copyright by SEFAR.9 10.1 28.Tolerance of fabric thickness Tolerance of mesh-count Thread diameter nominal Theoretical ink volume Mesh-opening Fabric number Weave cm 120-31W PW 120-31Y PW 120-34W PW 120-34Y PW 120-40W PW 120-40Y PW 150-27Y PW 150-31W PW 150-31Y PW 150-34W PW 150-34Y PW 150-34W TW 150-34Y TW inch 305-31W PW 305-31Y PW 305-34W PW 305-34Y PW 305-40W PW 305-40Y PW 380-27Y PW 380-31W PW 380-31Y PW 380-34W PW 380-34Y PW 380-34W TW 380-34Y TW 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 1:1 2:1 2:1 +/.9 .3 23.6 6.0 4.6 26 26 34 34 44 44 26 32 32 42 42 42 42 From the «Technical data sheet for SEFAR© PET 1000 10.6 20.0 µm 49 49 45 45 37 37 36 32 32 23 23 26 26 µm 31 31 34 34 40 40 27 31 31 34 34 34 34 % 35.0 3.0 3.0 4.3 13.3 12.0 13.0 3.6 9.0 4.4 15.0 4. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.7 10.1 15.3 16.9 6.0 4.µm cm3 / m2 g / m2 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 17.6 29.0 3.6 23.0 4.n/cm 3.1 12.0 4.1 20.
Various types of twill weave have differing weave numbers e.10 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. 1. Plain weave is a 1:1 weave. and is expressed as a weave number. and is measured perpendicular to the plane of the fabric. 2/1999 .Weave type The mesh type is specified along with the weave type. Mesh opening governs: – the maximum particle size to be used in a screen printing ink Mesh opening affects: – the level of printed detail in line and half-tone artwork – ink release characteristics – the thickness of the ink volume Note: For adequate ink penetration. Plain 1:1 = PW Mesh opening Twill 1:2 = TW Mesh opening w is the spacing between adjacent warp or weft threads. the average particle size p of the screen printing ink must be smaller than 1/3 of the mesh opening. 1:2 or 2:2.g. Screen printing fabrics are either plain or twill weave. This describes the pattern in which the weft and warp fibres cross over each other.
2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1. Next to the relationship of thread diameter to mesh opening. Secondary factors in the printability of fine line and half-tone artwork are the flow. viscosity and rheology of the screen printing ink. the thread diameter itself also affects the printable dot / line size. screen printing fabrics fall into the following categories: a) Mesh opening greater than thread diameter (ω > d) PET 1000 150–27PW ω =36µm b) Mesh opening comparable to thread diameter (ω ≅ d) PET 1000 150–31PW ω =32µm c) Mesh opening less than thread diameter (ω < d) PET 1000 150–34PW ω =23µm In general. PET 1000 150-27PW PET 1000 150-31PW PET 1000 150-34PW The theoretical resolution capability Ath for a given screen printing fabric can be estimated from the following formula: Ath = √2 * t * d/ω (t = ω + d) © Copyright by SEFAR.11 . and the relationship of thread diameter to mesh opening. fabrics where the mesh opening is greater than the thread diameter are capable of higher resolution than fabrics where the opposite is true. It is governed primarily by the mesh count.Resolution characteristics ”Resolution” refers to the level of printed detail in line and half-tone artwork that a given fabric is capable of reproducing. Examining the relationship of thread diameter to mesh opening w more closely.
Table: Theoretical resolution Ath for a variety of screen printing fabrics Fabric number Mesh with µm Pitch = t (d + ω) µm Ath µm PET 1000 100-40 PW PET 1000 110-34 PW PET 1000 110-40 PW PET 1000 120-31 PW PET 1000 120-34 PW PET 1000 120-40 PW PET 1000 140-31 PW PET 1000 140-34 PW PET 1000 150-27 PW PET 1000 150-31 PW PET 1000 150-34 PW PET 1000 165-27 PW PET 1000 165-31 PW PET 1000 180-27 PW 57 54 47 49 45 37 36 31 36 32 23 29 23 22 97 88 87 80 79 77 67 65 63 63 57 56 54 49 96 78 105 72 84 118 82 101 67 86 119 74 103 85 Key: Ath = Fn d ω = = = theoretical resolution Mesh count Nominal thread diameter Mesh opening The theoretical resolution value of a fabric should be taken as a relative guideline for better understanding of geometrical factors on the relationship between mesh number. 2/1999 . 1.12 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. thread diameter and mesh opening.
but proportional to. squeegee blade characteristics – hardness. Under realistic conditions. the theoretical ink volume. and a closed. angle. Given optimally filled fabric and clean ink release. theoretical ink volume provides a more practical alternative for determining ink consumption and the thickness of the printed volume. αo (open mesh area in %) The sum of all the mesh openings over the total area. impervious area of 69.Open area. The calculated effective ink volume is higher than. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.5%. the thickness of the wet printing ink deposit can be estimated from the theoretical ink volume: © Copyright by SEFAR. Given the difficulty of calculating a value based on so many variables. the degree to which a fabric is filled with ink depends on the squeegee speed. αo % is one of the variables used to calculate the theoretical ink volume. Theoretical ink volume Vth cm3/m2 This value is calculated from the open area and mesh thickness. and finish – and the consistency of the ink itself.5%.5% has an open mesh area of 30. A fabric with an αo of 30.13 . The volume of the open mesh governs the effective amount of ink that a screen printing fabric can accept.
05 1.15 1.20 1. Basic ink consumption Mf is then estimated by: m2/Lt = 1000 Vth The relative accuracy of the estimated value may be improved by incorporating factors to compensate for the absorbtion of the printing stock and the percentage thinning of the screen printing ink. Compensation factor S for porosity of the printing stock: S for highly porous printing stock S for slightly porous printing stock S for non-porous printing stock = 0.14 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR.Theoretical ink volume cm3/m2 = αo * D 100 A fabric with a theoretical ink volume of 18 cm3/m2 produces a printed layer with a thickness (when wet) of 18 µm.5 = 0.8 = 1. Taking all these factors into account.10 1. 2/1999 . the approximate ink consumption Mf can be derived from the screen printing fabric’s theoretical ink volume using the following formula: m2/Lt = (theoretical coverage) * S * V = 1000 Vth * S * V 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% = = = = = 1 1.0 Compensation factors for ink thinning percentage (V) V V V V V etc.
2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.15 .Fabric geometry summary n / cm d / µm d / µm d / µm t / µm ω / µm Fk / µm d / µm Fs / µm D / µm Key: D d Fk Fs n t ω = = = = = = = Fabric thickness (mesh thickness) Thread diameter Warp threads Weft threads Mesh count Pitch = ω + d Mesh opening © Copyright by SEFAR.
5 Coloured screen printing fabrics By exposing a direct stencil to light. and open details. the illuminated areas become hardened. Absorption tests show that the most effective absorber in the 350 – 420 nanometre range is a warm yellow colour. There is a reduction of the open printing areas. light scatter protection must absorb UV light over this wavelength range. more durable stencils. and scatter under the black edges of the film. Also. from approx. In general. To be effective. Light is also conducted through the fibres themselves. To keep these phenomena under control. only yellow light is reflected – and this has no effect on the emulsion. The obvious choice in achieving this is to use the complementary colour. The results are pin-sharp edges. Light rays striking the white fibres of the fabric are reflected. this results in tougher. 1. The results are unsharp printed edges.1. particularly in fine detail work. This is why it is advisable to work with emulsion in yellow light. 350 to 420 nanometres. because light scatter is no longer an issue. which by definition absorbs the desired wavelengths.16 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. leading to yet more under cutting. exposure times on dyed SEFAR fabrics are 75% – 125% longer than on their plain white counterparts due to less light scatter of blue UV light. White fabric Emulsions and films are sensitive in the UV range. Emulsions are sensitive only to blue UV light. When UV light strikes a yellow fibre. it is now possible to give exposure times that thoroughly harden the emulsion. it is necessary to calculate exposure times leading to proper exposure. Generous overexposure latitude reduces the risk of underexposure. causing colour shifts in multicolour half-tone artwork. 2/1999 .
© Copyright by SEFAR.17 .Dyed fabric Dyed fabrics should always be chosen for printing the finest lines. text and half tones. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.
especially when it is heavily laden with pigment. The calendered side is shiny.1. there is barely space for the third and fourth colours between or on top of the points left by the first two. thus reducing the thickness of the ink volume.UV light does not adequately penetrate a thick ink layer. The resulting trend is towards increased use of finer. and moiré effects. Recent years have seen major progress in weaving technology. the other side is dull. PET 1000 OSC are one side calendered. by contrast. 2/1999 . smeared print. uncalendered fabrics that offer increased printing resolution and better ink control characteristics. contain very little or no solvents. The current range still includes the following fabric numbers. 1. This makes it feasible to produce even the finest fabrics in a 1:1 weave. the range of calendered fabric types has been reduced. The ink is incompletely hardened as a result. . available with a maximum width of 206 cm: SEFAR PET 1000 140-34Y PW OSC SEFAR PET 1000 150-31Y PW OSC SEFAR PET 1000 150-34Y PW OSC SEFAR PET 1000 165-31Y PW OSC SEFAR PET 1000 165-34Y TW OSC SEFAR PET 1000 180-31Y TW OSC These fabrics are suitable for printing with UV inks and lacquers. This means that hardening does not significantly reduce the thickness of the ink volume.6 Calendered screen printing fabrics Screen printing inks contain solvents that evaporate during the drying process. UV-hardening inks . yellow-dyed fabrics. For this reason.Multicolour half-tone printing: If the first two colours are too thickly layered. This results in colour shifts.18 Monofilament screen printing fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR. The high ink film left by UV-hardening inks often produces problems: .
There are two techniques for reducing the ink deposit:
1. By stretching the fabric with the shiny surface facing the squeegee, OSC fabrics reduce the ink deposit by around 10 – 15% compared to uncalendered fabrics. 2. If the shiny surface is stretched facing the substrate, the ink deposit is reduced by around 15 – 25%.
The degree of ink volume reduction depends on a variety of additional factors in the printing process, particularly the ink’s rheological characteristics, which vary depending on the colour. It is therefore impossible to give exact figures.
Comparative ink deposit:
Calendered side = squeegee side (RK)
approx. 10–15% reduction
Calendered side = substrate side (DK)
approx. 15–25% reduction
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Monofilament screen printing fabrics
1.7 History and development of screen printing fabrics
Several hundred years separate the first stencils made from human hair, and contemporary high-precision screen printing materials based on modified synthetic fibres. Despite this, screen printing is a comparatively new printing technique, the first documented appearance being a patent submission from 1907 in which Samuel Simons recommended silk gauze (used to sieve flour) as a stencil material. Shortly thereafter, silk weavers began manufacturing plain weave fabrics especially for screen printers, allowing finer printing and improved ink control. The rise of synthetic fibres not only improved screen printing quality, it also increased the range of potential applications. Serigraphy, originally used by artists, thus became an industrial printing technique. Research and development in the weaving industry produced continual advances: fabrics with up to 200 threads per cm, widths up to 365 cm, and extraordinarily high tensioning capability opened radically new vistas for screen printing in all branches of industrial manufacturing. The silk gauze recommended by Samuel Simons was woven from selected multifilament silk yarn. To prevent threads from sliding and blocking the mesh as the flour was sieved, a special technique called twill weaving was used:
Silk gauze, multifilament The first fabrics specially developed for screen printing were also made from multifilament silk yarn, but plain woven. The mesh count could thus be increased to 90 threads/cm. The first synthetic yarns were likewise multifilament, plain woven, but considerably easier to stretch than silk. Furthermore, they were insensitive to water and resistant to chemical attack. These properties represented a breakthrough, because they allowed screen printing technology to be used with every imaginable ink system and printing stock.
Monofilament screen printing fabrics
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
The spinning industry’s success in manufacturing monofilament yarns opened the way for a further step in screen printing development. Monofilament yarns can be manufactured in considerably thinner and more consistent diameters than their multifilament counterparts. Thus, fabrics with up to 200 threads/cm could be manufactured, with no loss of mesh opening compared to multifilament fabrics. This opened up entire new markets to screen printing, with applications in electronics, ceramics, packaging, CD labels, etc. Despite satisfying growth in the screen printing industry, research and development continues apace. New materials are being tested, along with varied fabric treatments and novel weaving techniques. The screen printing industry can continue to look forward to new generations of screen printing fabrics, able to keep pace with increasing demands and expectations.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Monofilament screen printing fabrics
22 Monofilament screen printing fabrics Copyright by SEFAR.8 Conveyor belts for textile printing dryers d c a b Conveyor belt: a = Printer table b = Printed stock c = Conveyor d = Dryer PET 1000 HD PET Mono-Multi PET Mono-Multi PLUS PET Soft © 1. 2/1999 .1.
Textile endless belts are subject to a certain degree of stretching and elasticity.ch © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Monofilament screen printing fabrics 1.fd.23 . Both variants can be hemmed with reinforcing tape to protect against fraying.Conveyor belts made of strong polyester monofilament. They should therefore be tensioned over compensation rollers. The benefits: – lower drying temperatures are possible – higher running speeds are possible – energy savings – permissible temperatures up to 150 ºC – no squeezing of the conveyed goods – anti-static treatment possible – good running characteristics – minimal soiling. easy to clean. Belts are available with a variety of closures (mainly of the snap variety). have the following advantages: Air-current pervious – fresh air reaches all sides of the conveyed goods. or stitched together as an endless belt. Belts are supplied with either a woven or welded edge trim.sefar. For temperatures above 150 ºC we recommend conveyor belts made of PTFE coated glass fibre. Please address questions and queries to: Sefar Inc. Filtration Division Moosstrasse 2 CH-8803 Ruschlikon Switzerland Phone Fax ++41-1-724 65 11 ++41-1-724 15 25 Internet: http://www. for example PET 1000–HD.
printing inks. Wood swells and shrinks. due to fluctuating humidity and temperature. however. solvents and cleaning materials. Frame sections must be welded to lie perfectly flat. Painting the wood with a two-component lacquer protects it from water and solvents. © Copyright by SEFAR. often within a few hours. To give aluminium comparable strength. 2/1999 Screen printing frames 2. or an alternative section profile chosen. They should not be used. the cross-sectional area must be enlarged. Aluminium is 2.2.9x more flexible than steel of similar cross-section. for precision register prints. Screen printing frames should be as resistant as possible to mechanical deformation. Wooden frames have a shorter life than metal frames.1 . The surface should also be resistant to chemicals used in stencil-making. 2. and straightened where necessary. Metal frames Aluminium and steel are the metals most commonly used to make screen printing frames. they warp in the course of time and no longer lie flat. Warped frame sections are a considerable nuisance when printing. and designed to hold a tightly stretched piece of fabric. especially the small wooden frames for container printing. both during stencil-making and during the printing process. the section walls thickened.1 Materials used for screen printing frames Wooden frames Wooden frames are easily handled. and lead to register errors. Screen printing frames A screen printing frame is constructed from hollow sections.
Advantage: – low-cost Disadvantages: – susceptible to corrosion – heavy – require repainting before re-use (unnecessary if two-component glues are used). is their associated weight (specific gravity of steel approx. 2. but are less resistant to alkalis and acids.2 Screen printing frames © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 . 2. larger frames must be designed with increased cross-sectional area and reinforced walls. Aluminium frames do not rust. Advantages: – can be used to stretch all kinds of fabric – light weight – wide choice of cross sections – low-cost – good corrosion resistance – easily cleaned Disadvantages: – less robust than steel Steel frames Given the good rigidity of steel frames.Aluminium frames Aluminium’s specific gravity (approx. A major disadvantage. especially with large frames. the cross-section can be smaller than a comparable aluminium frame. Regular steel frames tend to rust. and require appropriate treatment (galvanising or painting).7) means that even very large frames are easily handled. 7.8). However.
2 Sections Next to the material used.5 50 2 40 3 60 Sections with reinforced vertical walls © Copyright by SEFAR.2.5 40 30 2 4.3 . Rectangular sections 40 3 40 40 3 60 Sections with 4 identical wall thicknesses Special sections 2 40 4. 2/1999 Screen printing frames 2. the type of section and the wall thickness are decisive factors influencing the dimensional stability of screen printing frames. We distinguish between rectangular and special sections.
55 40 2.6 80 Section with concave edge Section with concave edge.5 50 3 65 100 Section with sloping inner edge Section with inner support 2 4 50 36. for object printing) Flat steel strip for CD frames 2.7 2 38. 2/1999 . tapered to the outside (for textile printing) 25 4 4 25 25 Special-purpose L-section (e.g.5 4.4 Screen printing frames © Copyright by SEFAR.
0/1.5/2.5 35 x 35 x 2.0 50 x 40 x 4. There should always be an adequate zone reserved outside the printable area.2/2. in other words. (See the chapter on printing.Recommended sections.0/2.0/3.8 100 x 40 x 6.1/1.5 SLOPE 40/30 x 30 x 3.8 80 x 40 x 6.0 SLOPE 85/75 x 50 x 5.5 40 x 40 x 2.0/3. In textile printing.0 SLOPE 135/125 x 50 x 5.) © Copyright by SEFAR. frame dimensions and tension values Length (cm) at 12 N/cm 75 80 80 85 90 120 130 150 180 180 210 230 250 260 270 280 300 310 400 660 700 800 Length (cm) at 15 N/cm 70 75 75 75 80 100 120 140 150 150 180 200 220 230 240 260 270 280 380 560 600 750 Length (cm) at 20 N/cm 65 68 70 70 75 90 110 125 130 130 150 170 190 210 220 230 250 260 350 ---Length (cm) at 25 N/cm 60 62 63 63 67 85 100 110 120 120 120 130 150 170 180 200 230 240 330 ---- Aluminium section 30 x 30 x 3.5/2.0 50 x 30 x 4.0 SLOPE 55/45 x 40 x 3.0 SLOPE 45/35 x 40 x 3.2/2. i.0/2. the size of the printable area and the frame must be adapted to the squeegee system. textile printing is generally done in ”contact”.5 60 x 40 x 6.8 40 x 30 x 2.0/6.0/3. for use as an ink rest.0 60 x 40 x3. there is no physical separation between the stencil and the printing stock. 2/1999 Screen printing frames 2. and set up in accordance with the machine manufacturer’s instructions. Too small an ink rest can lead to register difficulties and poor print quality.e.0/1.1 x 24.3 Frame size The choice of frame size depends on the desired printable area and the type of printing.5/2.8/2.0/2.0 2.0 SLOPE 180/170 x 60 x 10.8 38.5 x 2.5/2. contrary to the usual practice in hand printing. In machine printing the squeegee motion is usually in the direction of the frame width. The horizontal and in particular the vertical distances between the frame and printable area (the ink rest) has to be determined by test for every type of machine. The sizes a machine can use have to be determined through individual trials.0/2.0 50 x 40 x 3.0 SLOPE 65/55 x 40 x 4.5 .8 40 x 40 x 4. In contrast to graphic screen printing.5 150 x 50 x 4.0 SLOPE 75/65 x 50 x 5.
0 60/40 6. 2.0 40/40 1.6 Screen printing frames © Copyright by SEFAR.0 40/50 4.0 40/40 2.0/3.0/3.0 80/40 6.0/2.5 C / C1 Warning: In textile printing applications. 2/1999 . consult the frame manufacturer for information.5-3.4/3.0 40/50 2. follow only the machine manufacturer’s instructions.0 40/40 2.5/2.0 40/60 3.0 40/50 3.5/2. In the case of extreme rectangular dimensions.Recommended frame sizes D C1 B1 D C B A B B1 A A B / B1 Format Printable area DIN in mm A4 A3 A2 A1 A0 210 x 300 300 x 420 420 x 590 590 x 840 840 x 1180 1200 x 1600 1400 x 1800 1600 x 2100 Ink rests side/top in mm 150/150 150/150 150/150 160/160 180/180 200/200 220/220 250/250 Aluminium Aluminium sections Steel sections and with various sections and Frame inside wall wall wall dimensions thicknesses thicknesses thicknesses in mm in mm in mm in mm 510 x 600 600 x 720 720 x 890 910 x 1160 1290 x 1540 1600 x 2000 1840 x 2240 2100 x 2600 40/50 3.0 100/40 6.
2/1999 Screen printing frames 2. it is essential to keep the frame surface truly flat and level. Metal frames that have not been sandblasted Metal frames with a smooth surface must be roughened prior to use. otherwise there could be contact and gluing problems later.2. After degreasing. since these can damage the fabric which might tear when tightly stretched. is to use a rotary grinder with an abrasive paper or fibre disc fitted to a rubber backing. Sandblasted frames Screen printing frames that have been sandblasted must be thoroughly degreased with a solvent (acetone) immediately prior to use. The disks themselves should be no. as well as remove stray glue from used frames. 24 or 36 grit. Roughening The recommended way to roughen adhesive surfaces.4 Pre-treatment of frames Screen printing frames should not have any sharp edges or pointed corners. frames that will be used with fine fabrics (OSC fabrics and others with a mesh count of 100 or more) should be primed using the same adhesive that will later be used for gluing. When working on the frame. Rotary grinder with integrated dust extractor Frame surface after grinding © Copyright by SEFAR.7 . Greasy cleaning agents must not be used.
frames that will be used with fine fabrics (OSC fabrics and others with a mesh count of 100 or more) should be primed using the same adhesive that will later be used for gluing. Because the grooves run parallel to the frame. Greasy cleaning agents must not be used.Belt sander. 2. Shortly before gluing. After degreasing. no. Ensure that all edges and corners have been de-burred. 24–36 grit.8 Screen printing frames © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 . frames must be thoroughly degreased with a solvent (acetone). solvents cannot penetrate between the frame and the fabric. This technique gives a flatter frame Frame surface after belt sanding.
Old glue may be left on the frame surfaces. ink and glue. Poor frame edge must be rounded-off Frame after rounding-off the glue edges Frames prepared in this way are now ready for gluing. 2/1999 Screen printing frames 2. to avoid the risk of tearing the fabric.Cleaning used frames Frames that have been used previously must be stripped of leftover fabric.9 . The edges must be rounded. providing it is even (no holes or bumps) and the layer is not too thick. © Copyright by SEFAR.
Stretching Stretching systems There are three basic approaches to stretching fabric. offering various degrees of precision.1 .1 Hand stretching The traditional method of stretching fabric on wooden frames by hand (aided by stretching grippers and staples) is still used by some screen printers. It is essential that the fabric is also glued to the frame. 2/1999 Stretching 3. especially for printing on solid objects. tautly stretched fabric. Hand stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. Warning: staples tend to tear the fabric.3. – Hand stretching – Mechanical stretching – Pneumatic stretching 3. This technique does not give uniformly.
3.2 Mechanical stretching
Mechanical stretching apparatus produces tensioning forces in the warp and weft directions. Depending on the equipment dimensions, several frames can be stretched at once. Also angled positioning of frames is possible. The ability to stretch several frames at once increases productivity. However, mechanical apparatus is unable to pre-stress the frames. However, this can be achieved using separate equipment. Mechanical stretching apparatus may be classified into two groups: – Self-tensioning frames – Spindle tensioning machines Self-tensioning frames
Roller frame Fabric is clamped in the frame. Stretching is done by rotating the frame rails, for example. Self-tensioning frames have the advantage that the fabric does not need to be glued to the frame. Caution: Excessive fabric tension and risk of tearing at the corners.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Spindle tensioning machines Spindle tensioning is another mechanical approach. The machine consists of a sub-frame supporting four guide-rails, which in turn carry pin rails or carriage clamps that grip the fabric. The grippers are moved by means of a threaded shaft, which is turned either by a hand-wheel, a ratchet, a torque wrench, or an electric motor. Tensioning is achieved by increasing the distance from the guide rails.
Spindle tensioning machine
During the stretching process, the screen printing frame rests on a height-adjustable holder, to avoid contact with the fabric. The frame is pressed onto the fabric during gluing. When gluing at an angle, the printing frame is laid on the holder at the desired angle, while the fabric is stretched at right angles in the normal way.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Stretching machines with pin rails In this type of machine, the fabric is hung over rigid pin rails attached to the stretching battens.
Pin rails are dangerous, particularly with fine-count fabrics. These require particularly careful handling to reduce the risk of tearing. In stretching machines with rigid, laterally fixed stretching battens, the corners of the fabric must be handled with special care to avoid over-stretching. Over-strained corners often cause torn fabric during and after stretching.
To reduce the possibility of this happening, the corners must be laid free and then gradually pinned, so they have just the right tension after stretching is complete.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Clamp Stretching machine © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Stretching 3. This accommodates length changes during stretching. They run on ball bearings and can follow the fabric as it stretches.5 .Tensioning machines with single clamps This type of machine replaces pin rails with movable clamps.
The clamps are operated by compressed air. or for covering several smaller frames at once. Mechanical stretching machine 3. and the number used depends on the frame size. 2/1999 . Tabletop pneumatic stretching machine 3.6 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. or each one in turn. Force is applied by means of an electromechanical drive mechanism that pulls the stock clamps outwards on both guide-rails at once.Semi-automatic mechanical stretching machines Semi-automatic mechanical stretching machines provide continuously variable tensioning by mechanical means alone. linked together and acting in concert. These machines are suited to large-size frames.3 Pneumatic stretching Pneumatic stretching machines consist of many individual stretching clamps.
since the pulling strength of both clamps is proportionately the same. The frame is thus automatically given the necessary pre-stress to avoid loss of fabric tension after gluing. The clamp is designed to be equally suitable for fine or coarse fabrics. The tension applied to the fabric also comes to bear on the frame edges. SEFAR 3 stretching clamps are available in jaw widths of 150 mm and 250 mm. Therefore. Both types can be used simultaneously. © Copyright by SEFAR.The clamps are constructed in such a way that they prop themselves against the printing frame during stretching. the clamps can be arranged to suit any frame size. The jaw clamping force may be set using a torque wrench. fabric tension remains constant right up to the time of gluing. and low to extremely high tensions. with a manual closure. 2/1999 Stretching 3. Since the clamps are held under steady pre-set air pressure. one beside the other. The fabric is clamped between two dissimilar rubber profiles (round/flat) to prevent slippage. SEFAR 3 The SEFAR 3 stretching clamp is pneumatically operated.7 .
The force grows in proportion to the fabric tension. 3. The combination of constantly adjusted clamping force and plastic jaw inserts allows higher tensions than can be achieved with conventional clamping systems.8 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. preventing slippage. 2/1999 .150mm 250mm Sefar 3 clamps with 150 mm and 250 mm jaw widths Pneumatic unit with distributor mounted on table SEFAR 4 SEFAR 4 stretching clamps feature a progressive jaw action that applies a steadily increasing clamping force.
© Copyright by SEFAR. Pneumatic circuits There are two ways to arrange the air supply for pneumatic stretching machines: the one-circuit system. They provide complementary alternatives for optimum.SEFAR 4 clamps are elevated by a short-throw cylinder during the stretching process. The clamps are propped against the frame. SEFAR 4 stretching clamps feature automatic closing and locking. flexing it in proportion to the applied tension. as well as retracting and opening automatically after stretching is complete. This avoids undesired rubbing of the fabric against the frame. SEFAR 4 stretching clamps are available in jaw widths of 150 mm and 250 mm. and the two-circuit system. one beside the other. The progressive clamping force means that the clamps may easily be opened and closed by hand.9 . even tensioning of the fabric over any frame size. These ensures consistent tension even after the fabric is glued to the frame. the clamps can be arranged to suit any frame size. Both types can be used simultaneously. Therefore. 2/1999 Stretching 3.
10 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. The one-circuit system uses a single control box. the other to the clamp diagonally opposite.One-circuit system The one-circuit system is used for frames with edges up to approx. 3. in order to supply compressed air to both sets of clamps. 150 cm long. They are also linked by a pneumatic coupling in the other diagonal corner. One is connected directly to the first clamp. with two air outlets. With the one-circuit system. 2/1999 . clamp positioning must correspond with the inside edge of the frame.
11 .Two-circuit system The two-circuit system is used when the side length exceeds 150 cm. This technique improves the evenness of the fabric tension. the clamps on both short sides of the frame must be positioned so that the clamp ends overhang by one frame section width. In the two-circuit system. before clamping the weft and likewise pre-tensioning to half the final value. 2/1999 Stretching 3. Both circuits can now be adjusted in tandem to attain the final desired tension. the other supplies the long side (weft). This allows pre-tensioning the warp to half its final value. © Copyright by SEFAR. The two-circuit system uses two independent control boxes. One supplies the short side (warp). The clamps on each of the long sides must be spaced 4–6 cm away from the outside edge of the frame.
3. Stretching methods With mechanical stretching. With pneumatic stretching.12 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. two techniques may be used. The mesh is stretched straight in the direction of the threads. There are fewer problems when using a wooden support board.3. and not against the stencil frame. Stretching difficulties arise when the mesh angle is greater than 15°. and the screen frame can now be positioned at the desired angle. because the clamps are propped against the support or master frame. Mesh stretched at a 15° angle. There is a loss of tension if the frames are too weak.4 Stretching at an angle Lines running parallel to the screen frame can be accurately printed when the mesh is stretched at an angle. It is important that the mesh and the lines to be printed are not parallel to each other. This is placed into the stretching apparatus. Mesh stretched parallel to the frame. because the mesh is not stretched in the direction of the threads. 2/1999 . the printing frame is laid in the stretching machine at the desired angle. The mesh is cut at the desired angle and placed straight into the stretching clamps.
The master frame is tensioned. In order to quickly adjust the profile to various formats. 4 adjustable prop profiles transfer the tensioning force to the tensioning frame. bore holes at 3 cm intervals along the profile.13 . and the master frame is laid over them. Small weights can be positioned on top. This reduces the loss in fabric tension.5 Multiple stretching Several frames may be covered at once. Master frames are especially useful for covering small stencil frames. 3. to improve contact between the mesh and the frame. using a master frame and one stretching machine. 2/1999 Stretching 3. the small stencil frames are placed on a foam rubber underlay.Aluminium profiles should be at least 80/40/6 mm for lengths up to approx. 2 m. © Copyright by SEFAR.
Several identical or different sized frames can be positioned straight.Covering several small frames with a master frame A wooden or plastic board can be placed in the stretching apparatus. to ensure optimal contact with all the frame edges. or at an angle. It is essential to position weights on the fabric between the individual frames. 2/1999 . 3.14 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR.
3.6 Correct stretching
After stretching, the screen printing fabric is mounted onto the frame. The permissible tension depends on the tearing strength of the particular fabric. The resistance to stretching of a particular fabric is an important factor in ensuring correct register, and in determining the proper distance between the screen and the substrate. Tension is measured in Newton per cm (1 N = 0.102 kp) with mechanical or electronic equipment placed on the fabric. See also the section ”Checking fabric tension”. Optimum tensioning force for different fabrics. The optimum stretching force to be applied in kg per cm of selvedge depends, as previously mentioned, on the tearing strength and stretching resistance of the particular fabric. The tearing strength and stretching resistance of modern synthetic yarns depends on the material and manufacturing process used. Polyester and polyamide (nylon) have very similar tearing strengths, but considerably different stretching characteristics. Polyester is more stretch-resistant than polyamide, and high-viscosity polyester is more stretch-resistant than standard polyester. Apart from this difference between the tearing strength and the stretching resistance of different yarn materials, for one and the same material it may be stated in principle that both these values will be roughly proportional to the cross-sectional area of the yarn. The cross-sectional area of a round yarn thread is obtained by the familiar expression r2 x p, i.e. 3.14 x square of the radius or .785 x diameter squared. This means that a round thread A that has double the diameter of another thread B of the same yarn material will be about four times as strong in tearing and stretching. With increasing thread diameter, therefore, the strength values increase according to their squares. Stencil fabrics are made in different degrees of fineness (counts). The count represents the number of threads per linear cm. In general, the higher the number, the finer the threads. Coarse fabrics with relatively thick threads can be tensioned more tightly than fine fabrics, even though they stretch less.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Moreover, in the same weave counts (same number of threads per linear cm), fabrics can be woven from combinations of thinner and thicker yarns.
Considering the different fabric grades with the same number, i.e. the same mesh count, it is obvious that the grade with the thicker yarn is stronger than the grades with the thinner yarns. This should be taken into account when stretching on printing frames.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Fabric numbers with threads of differing thickness used to be specified as: SL S M T HD = = = = = thinnest thread thinner thread medium thread thicker thread thickest thread
Now, these symbolic terms have been replaced by the nominal thread diameter. Nominal thread diameter refers to the diameter of the unwoven fibre. Fabric number 120 120 120 Thread diameter 31 34 40 former identification S T HD
The complete fabric identification is comprised of: Fabric type + fabric number + thread diameter + special treatment. As yet, there are no standardised symbols for special treatments; fabric manufacturers use their own abbreviations. Example: PET 1000 120-34Y PW
3.7 Recommended tensions
The recommended tensions refer to target values for the fabric in the tensioning apparatus, before it is attached to the printing frame. These are reliably attainable using correct tensioning methods and well-maintained tension measuring equipment. Higher than recommended tensions increase the risk of tearing during handling and printing. Lower tensions may be necessary for specific applications (hand printing, printing solid objects).
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
3.18 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. 2m. 3m. 1m.Maximum tensions for PET 1000 fabric: 55 50 80 45 40 70 80 80 70 64 64 64 55 55 70 70 70 64 55 48 48 40 70 55 25 20 15 32 43 45 48 51 54 61 64 68 73 77 81 90 95 100 110 120 130 140 150 165 180 190 40 34 40 34 34 31 31 31 27 27 34 31 27 Nominal thread diameter 80 70 64 48 55 48 40 34 31 48 40 34 31 N/cm 35 30 Mesh count /cm The tensions listed in the table refer to controls made using the SEFAR Newtontester or TETKOMAT. the specified tensions should be reduced by 15–20% for edge lengths up to approx. and 20–25% for edge lengths up to approx. For larger sizes. Preconditions: – tensioning system with pre-stressed frame – SEFAR-3/4 stretching clamps or other devices capable of providing uniform tension – slip-proof fabric clamping system – stable frame Applicability The specified tensions are valid for frame edge lengths up to approx. 2/1999 .
(1 minute) N/cm Time → Rapid tensioning procedure Within 1 to 3 minutes.5% with PET 1000 fabrics. there is a loss of tension of 15–20% with standard fabrics. then attached to the printing frame without delay (no relaxation phase). N/cm Time → Loss of tension When tensioning procedures are correctly followed. These values do not take the printing frame characteristics into account. © Copyright by SEFAR. the fabric can be brought to a tension some 15% higher than desired. Repeating this procedure several times will reduce future loss of tension.19 . Loss of tension can be reduced by longer relaxation phases.Standard tensioning procedures The fabric can be brought to the desired tension within 1 to 3 minutes. and 10–12. Before fastening the fabric to the frame. 2/1999 Stretching 3. tensioning time may be reduced to an absolute minimum. wait 10 minutes and again increase the tension to its final value. With modern pneumatic equipment or SEFAR clamps.
however. the SEFAR Newtontester or TETKOMAT.5 . Elongation in percent at 15–20 N/cm: Fabric number 10 . Because the mesh must have a certain degree of elasticity during the printing process. fabric tension can be roughly checked by monitoring elongation during tensioning. We recommend using a commercial measuring instrument. The relationship (cause and effect) is. undue demands should not be made on the tension. 2/1999 .2. for determining fabric tension. Differences of 1–2 N/cm are permissible.1. It is important that all the meshes used are tensioned similarly.20 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. Tension control There is a relationship between the applied stretching force and the resulting elongation of the fabric.3 % Polyamide fabric 2 3 4 5 3% 4% 5% 6% 3. e.g.50 50 .20 20 .5 % 1.100 100-200 Polyester fabric 1 .5 . not constant for different types of stretching equipment and fabric. Multi-colour graphics printing experience has shown that good register is achieved at mesh tensions above 12 N/cm.2 % 2 .5 % 2.Possible causes for loss of tension The following points should be investigated if loss of tension is problematic: – weak frame sections – fabric incorrectly inserted in the stretching clamps – stretching clamps pull unevenly: one side of the frame is laying too high – large temperature changes – insufficient waiting time before gluing Extreme climatic or mechanical influences can also affect the fabric tension. If specialised measuring equipment is unavailable.
reliable and exact screen tension reading. The Sefar Newtontester is placed on the glass plate delivered with the instrument for this purpose: – The needle of the dial must be precisely in the 12 o’clock position. © Copyright by SEFAR. Sturdy and precise construction guarantees consistent. Instructions for use Calibration The accuracy of the indicator dial should be checked periodically. highly legible dial.8 Sefar tension control instruments Newtontester Screen printing quality largely depends on perfectly controlled screen tension. The Sefar-Newtontester is now ready for use. 2/1999 Stretching 3. Any deviation can be corrected by turning the hexagonal set screw at the bottom of the tester. Controlling Place the Sefar-Newtontester onto the fabric and read the tension. Tension values from 5–60 Newton/cm can be checked. The appropriate Allen wrench is packed with the instrument. – The calibration point on the dial should be made to exactly coincide with the indicator needle by turning the outside ring of the dial.21 .3. The Sefar Newtontester instantly controls the screen tension in Newton/cm and displays it on a large.
Tetkomat 3 4 2 1 5 TETKOMAT characteristics The TETKOMAT is suitable for all screen printing fabrics. Fabric tension control Before starting to use the Tetkomat. it displays the weft tension. 2/1999 . The Tetkomat allows reliable and simple checking of fabric tension in warp and weft directions at any time. This makes it possible to produce uniformly tensioned. the indicator needle must rest exactly over the scale calibration point (see Checks and Adjustments below).e. reproducible stencil sets with a minimum of fuss. This allows the tension to be balanced in both directions. the instrument displays the warp tension. 3. It is a purely mechanical instrument. If the measuring head is aligned with the warp threads (along the fabric). i.22 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR. If it is aligned with the weft threads (across the fabric). needing no battery or other electrical supply. check that the display is correct. To control fabric tension. place the instrument on the tensioned fabric so that the long edge of measuring head (1) is parallel to the thread direction.
Checking with a Newton controlling instrument is therefore especially important. For multi-colour work. it is recommended to let the screens rest for 24 hours before stencilling. all screens should have the same tension. 2/1999 Stretching 3. depending on the type of tensioning device used. the frame stability and the waiting time before gluing. – Place the instrument on the glass plate. – Remove and replace the instrument on the glass plate several times. the instrument should be regularly checked. – Clean the measuring bar and the supplied glass plate of any dirt. therefore. – The needle should rest exactly over the scale calibration mark (2). For printing jobs with accurate register. – Turn the outside ring of the dial (4) so that the needle aligns with the calibration mark (2). the instrument is now ready for use. To avoid erroneous readings. – If the needle shows a deviation. to verify reproducibility. and adjusted if necessary. the original mesh tension. loosen the scale set screw (3). When stretching frames. 10–20% of its tension within the first 24 hours. (The instrument should be cleaned if reproducibility is poor. We recommend working with Newton controlling instruments at all times. Follow the mesh tension recommendations in the technical datasheets published by Sefar AG. © Copyright by SEFAR.23 . Important: Minimum distance from frame: 10 cm. please take into account this loss of tension. Practical experience has shown that variations in screen tension of 1–2 N on the same or different screens do not have any noticeable effect on screen printing precision.Checks and adjustments To avoid control errors. the instrument’s contact rollers (5) must lie parallel to the direction of the threads.) – Tighten the scale set screw (3). Loss of tension A newly stretched screen loses approx.
the loss of tension can amount to several Newtons.During long print runs. Caution: Unequal warp and weft tension can result in the following: – uncontrollable register – deteriorating surface roughness of the ink volume – higher ink volume (depending on the squeegee direction) – increased mechanical abrasion of the fabric and squeegee 3. or after several screen reclaimings. 2/1999 .24 Stretching © Copyright by SEFAR.
the side of the frame to be glued must be cleaned. in particular aluminium. 4. Sharp edges and corners must be rounded off. © Copyright by SEFAR. The tools used are: – a brush with hard bristles. Sand-blasting the surface to be glued is also a good method.1 Preparation Screen printing frames must be thoroughly cleaned and degreased prior to gluing.1 . Metal frames should be thoroughly degreased shortly before gluing. and ink and adhesive residues removed. The choice of glue depends largely on the solvents used by the printing process. it is advisable to pre-coat the frame with the same glue that will be used later. When gluing fabrics with weave counts of 100 and up. There must be no traces of dust. using a suitable solvent (cellulose thinner. using a coarse emery wheel or emery disk. Gluing Applying two-component glue through the mesh is the technique most used at present for securing fabric to printing frames. optional brush-holder for storage – degreasing agent – adhesive tape – felt or fibre-tip marker – a knife Cleaning and degreasing the printing frame First. Printing frames should only be roughened or sand-blasted on the side to be glued.4. it may be left on the frame. It is always advisable to roughen the adhesive surface of metal. grease or oxidation. refined petrol. or alcohol). UV or reserve adhesives are other alternatives. 2/1999 Gluing 4. acetone. to avoid the risk of recontamination. One-component glue. Prepared frames should be glued right away. otherwise it is more difficult to remove ink residues. This improves adhesion. If the old glue coating is non-porous and flat.
....4.. approx.08.. The sticker can be made of self-adhesive plastic film or paper...18... 2/1999 ......2 ... adhesive tape is applied inside of the marked fabric......... Gluing © Copyright by SEFAR....9 8/ gh Glued and marked fabric 4. Datum: ... 20N... The following information should be recorded: – fabric brand – weave count............ A piece of polyester film glued over the label protects against solvents. using a felt or fibre-tipped pen.. ...2 Marking stretched frames Before gluing....... To make the frame easier to find in a storage rack................. 08 PE T10 00 12 034 ... Neuspannung: ....... 2189203101...../c m .. including thread diameter – roll/batch number – tension in N/cm – date – operator’s initials Example: PET 1000 120-34Y PW.2 0N Gewebefeinheit: ....... Winkel: ..... and protects the transitional area between the frame and the marked fabric..98/gh Next. Unterschrift: ..... 1-2cm from the frame.. Rollennummer: ... 21 89 20 31 01 . This helps to give a cleaner glue boundary. it is advisable to mark the tensioned fabric along the frame edge. and written with permanent marker..1 8..... a sticker with the same information is applied to the outer edge of the frame.
3 . It is therefore advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions before removing the frame from the stretcher. © Copyright by SEFAR. Adhesive and hardener must be mixed before use.4. The initial drying (evaporation) time depends on the fineness of the fabric. It is important to observe the correct ratio. Two-component adhesives harden in two phases. to avoid impaired adhesion and hardening. tension. since the reaction between the adhesive and the hardener begins in the pot. in the proportions specified by the manufacturer. the higher the tension and the lower the mesh count. plus hardener. room temperature and relative air humidity. the longer the drying time required. then the chemical hardening process begins. As a general rule. This type of adhesive has generally good resistance to solvents. The delay between mixing and the onset of the chemical reaction is known as the pot life. thickness of the glue coat. falling into the following categories: – two-component adhesives – reserve adhesives – UV adhesives – contact adhesives Two-component adhesives Two-component glue is a catalytic mixture consisting of the adhesive itself. 2/1999 Gluing 4. although the adhesive should be tested with the solvent used for ink removal. The solvent evaporates first.3 Adhesives There are various adhesive systems. With so many variables. It should also be noted that two-component adhesives only remain workable over a limited period. it is difficult to recommend precise drying times.
both glued surfaces are pressed together and the gauze is then smoothed down with a plastic spatula for better contact. The adhesive is applied to the frame as well as onto the stretched fabric. 2/1999 . the frame can be taken out of the stretcher. the adhesive must be protected by a coat of alcohol-based lacquer. UV adhesives UV adhesives are one-component glues that cure (harden) through exposure to ultra-violet light from a special lamp. If frames glued in this way are to be used with solvents. 4. After several more minutes of drying. Therefore. When the adhesive is dry. UV adhesives are resistant to solvents. Although a hardener is added. Contact adhesives Contact adhesives cause a frame to adhere to a stretched fabric so firmly that no further pressing is required.Reserve adhesives Reserve adhesives are applied to frame in advance. The process takes about 30 seconds.4 Gluing © Copyright by SEFAR. The hardening process is faster than with two-component adhesives. this type of adhesive has insufficient resistance to certain powerful solvents. The coated frame can then be stored indefinitely. Painting acetone or some other activator through the tensioned fabric in contact with the frame revives the adhesive. the glued surface must be protected with a coat of lacquer.
it is impossible to establish good contact. and the fabric bond is correspondingly weaker. It is important to ensure that the frame edges are thoroughly glued to the fabric. so there is no possibility of solvent penetrating and weakening the glue. There is a risk of the fabric becoming detached later. If there are problems. weights may be placed on the fabric to force it onto the frame surface.5 .4.4 Gluing the fabric to the frame It is important to ensure positive contact between the fabric and the frame during gluing. If the frame is not flat. Gluing © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Gluing 4.
Put your premises and expensive labour to better use! 4. and the tension checked with appropriate measuring instruments.4. 2/1999 . ready-to-use frames are the safest and best prerequisite for making perfect stencils. It should be evident that prefabricated.6 Gluing © Copyright by SEFAR.6 Stretching services Efficient networks of SEFAR trade supply houses guarantee prompt and reliable delivery of perfectly stretched screen printing frames. A stretching service saves you warehousing costs for various weave counts and widths. as well as the investment in a stretching machine.5 Screen storage Screen storage and transport 4. Successful printing largely depends on this. You can be certain that the mesh has been stretched using state-ofthe-art equipment.
The diapositive is prepared on a masking film. It is important that the diapositives are reading right. – Cut-film process. This causes undercutting. reading right film.1 Manually made diapositives – Draw with opaque ink on transparent polyester foil. Masking films are available in orange and red. In this context. with the emulsion side up. It is preferable to use onesided matt polyester foil. For artistic prints. photographically. it is essential to instruct the repro bureau to expose the artwork reading right on the emulsion side of the film. © Copyright by SEFAR.1 . This is important. but for photographic reproduction only red masking films should be used. If offset-style reversed films (reading wrong) are used. Both types are suitable for screen printing. the film polyester base becomes interposed between the emulsion and the film layer. stencil preparation requires a positive transparency of the artwork to be reproduced. Diapositive manufacture In screen printing. This is the opposite to films intended for offset printing. because it allows during exposure the emulsion side of the film to rest directly on the stencil emulsion. Cutting may be done using a special knife. consisting of a polyester backing and an emulsion coating. 02/1999 Diapositive manufacture 5.2 Photographically made diapositives (films) At present. 5. Diapositives can be made manually. or digitally. reading right means that the artwork must be reproduced the right way round on the emulsion side of the film. If diapositives are made externally. 5. giving stencils that lack sharpness and detail. a wax pencil can also be used. or a computer-controlled plotter. the conventional technique generally used to make screen printing diapositives requires a positive.5.
This technique does not require vacuum retention during exposure. Computer data is converted to screens and lines by a PostScript RIP (Raster Image Processor). However. The result is then output to film. 02/1999 .2 Diapositive manufacture © Copyright by SEFAR.3 CTS (Computer to Screen) CTS is a newer process for making diapositives. The mesh is then exposed and rinsed in the same way as stencils made from films. 5. and translated into the imagesetter’s machine language. because the ink or wax is deposited directly on the emulsion surface. no actual film is involved: instead. the plotter sprays UV-opaque ink or wax directly onto the coated mesh. 5. Just like film production.Films (diapositives) are currently produced on laser imagesetters. computer data is converted by a RIP and output on an inkjet plotter.
Only a few laser machines are in use world-wide.This technique has the advantage of eliminating expensive films. they are much slower and require special emulsions and fabric types. inkjet technology has proved a clear winner over laser techniques (same principle as CTS).3 . 02/1999 Diapositive manufacture 5. For producing screen printing stencils. Conventional Conventional film-based production vs. CTS Conventional: Colour separation Film production Film development Full-sheet production Mount film on stencil Exposure Archive film Develop stencil CTS: Colour separation Spray and expose stencil Develop stencil © Copyright by SEFAR.
Once all these parameters have been established. Most repro houses offer a wide variety of raster techniques (round.5. and frequently cause screen printing moirés. Informing customers of the optimum parameters beforehand can also save much trouble and expense. Most repro houses are oriented towards offset printing. Positive films must be made reading right with high density (d ≥ 3. 2. the best raster angle must then be found. To reiterate. Trials with various dot shapes are essential. This is because dots for 50% tones are square. linked.4 Diapositive manufacture © Copyright by SEFAR. 3.correct side (i. While eminently suitable for offset printing.5) to UV-A illumination. 02/1999 . etc. Multi-colour raster prints present a further dimension. it is necessary to work closely with an expert partner. It is absolutely crucial to discuss the specific job requirements beforehand. 1. 4.optimum raster angle . Raster films must not be made using PostScript round dots.e.). there ought to be fewer moiré problems in production runs. It is a good idea to make a test film with a variety of raster dot shapes with different screen rulings (L/cm or lpi). the print results then determine which standard raster angle to use.4 Tips for external production of diapositive films If pre-press facilities are not available in-house. A proof print with various four-colour raster angles is made. these are a big problem in screen printing. Proof prints from test stencils made from various film materials on different mesh counts provide a basis for establishing subsequent standardised practice. The best choice is a repro house with an established track record in making screen printing diapositives. here is a summary of the parameters: . reading right).optimum raster dot shape . with high density . Having established the optimum raster point shape. 5.optimum raster ruling 5.
Irrespective of this. 6. These often contain other chemical additives. Degrease by spreading a modest quantity of degreasing agent over the wet fabric. e. which can seriously affect the adhesion of photofilms or photographic emulsions. all fabrics. Stencils 6. The stencils for the individual colours are easily cut using a special cutting knife. Fabrics can be contaminated by handling. © Copyright by SEFAR. must be degreased shortly before use. or airborne dust. Plotter techniques have created a resurgence in hand-cut stencils.6. the fabric may again attract grease or dust. It is mostly used for lettering and large solid objects. Suitable cutting tools and masking films can be obtained through your screen printing dealer. If screens are allowed to lie around. Household detergents must not be used.1 Pre-treatment of screen printing fabrics Degreasing Special finishing methods mean that SEFAR screen printing fabrics are fundamentally very clean. 2/1999 Stencils 6. then rinse thoroughly using a high-pressure water jet.g. Leave to stand for a few minutes. Photofilm or photographic emulsions must be applied immediately after degreasing the mesh.2 Mechanical stencils The hand-cut stencil This type of stencil has the advantage of producing perfectly sharp edges. a swivel knife. e. Degreasing is done with the normal screen printing degreasing products available from dealers.g. After degreasing. the fabric should not be touched again.1 . whether new or old. using a soft brush. lanolin for skin protection.
– Drying at excessive temperature. – For perfect adhesion. – Insufficient pre-treatment and degreasing of the fabric (see the section on pre-treatment). – Can be removed using solvents. the solvents recommended by the film manufacturer must be used. Problem causes – Hand perspiration. 2/1999 . the hand should rest on a protective sheet of paper to avoid grease-stains. – Hand-cut films bonded with solvents resist only water-based inks. – Creased film.Water soluble hand-cut film This kind of hand-cut film has the following advantages: – film adheres to the fabric by water surface-tension – suitable for all solvent-based inks – easy removal with hot water Cellulose hand-cut film The following points should be observed with this film: – The fabric must be prepared and degreased as with a photo stencil. 6. or dirt on the film side can create bonding difficulties. – When cutting. – Using an unsuitable instrument to lift off the film.2 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. – Poor contact while bonding. hand cream. – Excess liquid while bonding results in swollen edges.
Cutting Lifting © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Stencils 6.3 .
2/1999 Printing of flat and Printing of flat and Flat print shaped objects certain shaped objects difficult easy easy Reclaiming .3 Photomechanical stencils A Direct stencil with emulsion B Direct stencil with film and emulsion C D Direct stencil Indirect stencil with film and water (capillary film) – Mesh cross-section – Emulsion – Film Mechanical resistance Solvent resistance Contour sharpness Average press run Time and labour Applications © very good good good – very good 50 000-75 000 high Printing of flat and shaped objects difficult very good good very good 20 000-50 000 high good good very good 10 000-30 000 low poor good very good 2000-5000 medium Copyright by SEFAR.4 Stencils 6.6.
Remaining moisture can be removed by gentle application of unprinted newspaper or window cleaning suede.g.5 .4 Direct stencils with emulsion General procedure Degreasing Before making any stencil. Determine the correct exposure time using step exposures and a test diapositive. Use a suitable coating trough. wet-on-wet. a metal halogen lamp. Final drying in a drying chamber. Remove all water by suction. the fabric should be degreased with a suitable degreasing agent. Pinholes and film edges can be covered with screen filler. Developing Drying Retouching © Copyright by SEFAR. or using specialised water suction equipment. Maximum temperature 40ºC. print side down. to smooth out unevenness. Observe manufacturer’s temperature instructions. e. Do not use household detergents.6. Uniform coating with photo emulsion (diazo. Develop with a moderate water-jet. Drying Coating Drying Additional coatings Apply additional coatings on the print side. Dry thoroughly at room temperature. Use a suitable light source. rinse out the printing side thoroughly with a powerful water-jet. Dry the stencil in a horizontal position. After development. photopolymer or dual cure). Drying Exposure Same drying procedure as after the first coating. 2/1999 Stencils 6.
(Measure the output using a light integrator.6. – Exposure time too short. Undercutting when copying (loss of detail) – This can occur with white mesh. – Only use non-reversed positives. Some of the diazo sensitiser remains undissolved in the bottle.5 Troubleshooting direct stencils with emulsion Formation of fish-eyes after coating – Insufficient degreasing of the fabric. (Formation of bubbles leads to premature printing failure.) Poorly bonded photo emulsion after exposure – Emulsion insufficiently dried before exposure. – After coating. leave coarse meshes to dry overnight at room temperature. – Intensity fall-off in the exposure lamp. Allow for longer exposure times under these circumstances. – Poorly mixed photo-initiator (diazo) and emulsion. Failure to compensate for a highly lightabsorbent diapositive. – Caution at very high humidity! The coated screen may feel completely dry. Compared to white fabrics. Incomplete dissolution of the diazo component in water. dyed screen fabrics require a 75–125% exposure increase.6 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. (inhomogeneous coating) Air inclusions during coating – Coating too fast can trap air in the mesh openings. 6. Use a dyed fabric. but is only superficially dry due to the high air humidity. – Dust particles on screen fabric.) – Insufficiently sensitised emulsion. 2/1999 .
g. Carefully observe the manufacturer’s instructions. in any case. e. the dried ink particles can no longer be completely removed. Apply an additional coat to the print side.7 . The greater part of the photo emulsion must be. Additional degreasing is needed before applying the reclaiming agent. – Insufficient cleaning after printing. Ink deposits cling to the mesh. but has sunk into the depressions in the fabric structure. © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Stencils 6. – Unsuitable reclaiming agent. – The stencil is still greasy from solvent. After drying. Sensitizers DIAZO and/or PHOTOPOLYMERS are used as sensitizers in screen printing. Printing sharp outlines requires multiple wet-on-wet coatings. The reclaiming solution cannot dissolve the photo emulsion. The coating on the print side is too thin. Important: For environmental reasons. Half-tone printing – Half-tone screen printing requires thinly coated mesh. – Ink was not immediately washed off after printing. The coating bridges the mesh openings. DICHROMATE should no longer be used.6 Stencils for water-based inks Water-proof emulsions must be used with water-based inks. 6. for direct printing on textiles or ceramic.Saw-tooth effect – Poor coating. additional coatings can be applied to smooth out unevenness. After a certain time. Reclaiming difficulties – Underexposed emulsion. on the print side.
2... .. Dry at 20–30 °C © . 1–2x 6. . . . .... Exposure 7. 1–4x 4. Develop with cold water 8. . Dry. . . . Coating on print side.. Dry. . ... . Neither material represents an environmental hazard. 3. Coating on squeegee side.... 2/1999 .. . 1–2x Copyright by SEFAR. . 20–30 °C 6. .. Additional coatings on print side.. . 20–30 °C print side down! 5..8 Stencils . .. . 1. .. .Diazo and photopolymer photo emulsions Both types are characterised by prolonged storage capability for coated screens.
The depth of the surface roughness should be less than 10% of the fabric thickness. with a slightly thicker coating on the print side of the stencil. 10 . Rule-of-thumb: Half-tones: Rule-of-thumb: UV inks: © Copyright by SEFAR. As a rule. the coating thickness on the print side of the screen should not exceed 5 µm. the screen can.20% of the mesh thickness. and also by the fineness of the fabric and the demands of the printing job. The number of coatings depends on various factors. Coating thickness on the printing side approx. wet-on-wet. surface quality can be significantly improved by 1–2 additional coatings that are allowed to dry between coating. be given 1–2 additional coatings as well on the squeegee side. When printing with UV inks. the ink volume should generally be as low as possible. The screen is coated 1–2 times on the print side. after intermediate drying. partly influenced by the particle content and viscosity of the emulsion. The thinnest possible coat of 4 – 8 µm results in the thin ink volume required for half-tone prints. This value represents the average of the highest and lowest points on the surface (see chapter 10). With very coarse meshes of 5 – 40 threads/cm. Coating thickness on the printing side: approx. Roughness depth less than the coating thickness.9 . The Rz value is determined using roughness depth measuring equipment. 2/1999 Stencils 6. printing job Lines: Sharply defined prints are attained with a coating thickness of 10 –18 µm on fabrics with 90 threads/cm and finer. then dried. followed immediately by 1–4 times on the squeegee side. The drying temperature must not exceed 40º C.A uniform coating is crucial to a perfect direct stencil. This improves the stencil life. The fabric should be completely covered by the emulsion. 10% of the mesh thickness. After drying. Coating thickness vs.
because of differences not only in the mesh opening but also in the fabric thickness. 2/1999 .9 % 29. Example: number of coats: Fabric number Open area Fabric thickness + coating D/ R 53 µm 61 µm 72 µm Coating wet-on-wet 120-31 (S) 120-34 (T) 120-40 (HD) 37 % 30 % 22 % 2+1 2+2 2+3 The screen should be coated immediately after degreasing. The larger mesh-opening causes more emulsion to be pressed through the fabric per coating.1 % Fabric thickness 55 µm 55 µm These examples clearly depict the differing open areas in % in fabrics of similar thickness.10 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR.1 % Fabric thickness 49 µm 55 µm 65 µm Various fabric qualities in the same number also influence the coating thickness. Fabric fineness Fabric number 120-34 (T) 150-34 (T) Mesh-opening 45 µm 23 µm Open area 29. etc.6 % 12.6 % 20. to avoid recontaminating the fabric with dust. The fabric must be perfectly dry before coating.The fineness and quality of the fabric are the determining factors for the number of stencil coatings. Fabric quality Fabric number 120-31 (S) 120-34 (T) 120-40 (HD) Mesh-opening 51 µm 45 µm 37 µm Open area 37. Achieving the same coating thickness on both fabrics requires a different number of coatings. 6.
even in the centre part of the screen. and should be cambered over its entire length. The coating edge must be rounded.Coating example Correct coating Coating too thin The easiest way to apply the photo emulsion onto the fabric is with a coating trough. 2/1999 Stencils 6.11 . © Copyright by SEFAR. This guarantees an overall uniform coating.
. Technical data for coating troughs: Trough length/mm < 50 50-150 150-1000 > 1000 Trough (stainless steel) profile/mm 30/30/1. Care should be taken that the photo emulsion never stays in the coating trough for longer than necessary. which destroys the photo emulsion. It indicates that the emulsion can no longer be used.. the sensitised emulsions. Warning: Aluminium is very easily damaged.25 mm Copyright by SEFAR.0 .12 Stencils .. are strongly acidic. 1. consequently.20 ° 0.5 50/50/2. . photo emulsions should be applied only with a V2A-stainless steel coating trough.5 50/50/1.0 For screen sizes over 1000 mm and a fabric of less than 20 threads/cm. Galvanised steel troughs oxidise after a short time. which also happens after the photo emulsion has been kept for several hours in an aluminium trough.60/60/2. 6. Covering the trough merely protects against dust and drying out. .5 40/40/1. we recommend a profile depth of 60–80 mm. This is accompanied by the formation of fine bubbles or scum.75 mm r=0. Therefore. 2/1999 .1-0.2 % Hand coating + trough Most DIAZO sensitisers and.5 mm © r=0.
Storage rack for coating troughs
Automatic coating machine
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
6.7 Direct stencils with film and emulsion
General procedure Degreasing: Before making any stencil, the fabric should be degreased with a suitable degreasing agent. Do not use household detergents. The fabric must be completely dry before transferring the film. To prevent later difficulties, avoid dust when transferring. Place the film on a glass plate, emulsion side up. Bring the stencil, in the printing position, in contact with the film. Avoid trapping dust. Pour the sensitised photo emulsion into the stencil and sweep the emulsion over the film using a soft squeegee. Important: Wait approx. 3 minutes before putting the stencil into the dryer. Drying: For accurate register, dry at room temperature (max. 40 ºC). Remove the plastic backing sheet after drying, and allow to dry for a few minutes longer. Determine the correct exposure time through step exposures. Underexposure causes poor film adhesion, and reduced coating durability. Rinse with cold water. Dry at room temperature. Excess water can be removed with unprinted newspaper or water suction equipment. Pinholes and film edges can be covered with a water-based screen filler.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Troubleshooting direct stencils with film and emulsion Poor film adhesion to the fabric – Fabric used is too fine Fabric with low ink penetration prevents sufficient photo emulsion coming into contact with the film. The results are inadequate adhesion of the film on the fabric. – Squeegee is too hard or too soft Incorrect squeegee hardness results in insufficient emulsion being pressed onto the film, leading to inadequate film sensitisation. The ideal squeegee hardness is 60 º - 70 º shore. – Trapped dust This results from failure to clean the film with an antistatic cloth before transfer. Dust can also be a problem when there has been a delay between degreasing the mesh and applying the film. – Exposure time too short This results in poor adherence of the film on the fabric. – Insufficient drying before exposure Also results in poor adherence of the film on the fabric. Unexposed, and hence unhardened particles on the emulsion side are washed out during development. – Copying error The film backing sheet was not removed prior to exposure.
6.8 Direct stencils with film and water
General procedure Degreasing: Before making any stencil, the fabric should be degreased with a suitable degreasing agent. Do not use household detergents. Wetting agent encourages the formation of a uniform water film on all fabrics, to facilitate safe transfer of the capillary film.
Copyright by SEFAR, 2/1999
Wash out with tepid water. 6. Sweep off excess water with a squeegee. and allow to dry for a few minutes longer. No additional drying time. so that a homogenous film of water is formed on the print side. Determine the correct exposure time through step exposures. The film is sucked onto the fabric through capillary action. Remove the plastic backing sheet after drying. The film is placed on a flat surface. Dust problems are practically eliminated. we recommend that the film be tightly rolled. 40 ºC). concentrating on the print side until the image is open. the capillary film can be further reinforced after drying by applying emulsion to the squeegee side. The wet mesh fabric is carefully brought into contact with the film. Thoroughly rinse the squeegee side. 2.Transfer: The capillary film is transferrred onto the wet stencil mesh. This procedure has two advantages: 1. so that it can be easily unrolled on the wet upright screen. Pinholes and film edges can be covered with a water-soluble screen filler Reinforcement: Exposure: Developing: Retouching: Troubleshooting direct stencils with film and water Poor film adhesion to the fabric – Inadequate water film on the print side of the mesh when transferring the film. Attention: For large print runs. With large sizes in particular.16 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. Dry afterwards. dry at room temperature (max. For this reason. Excess water can be removed with unprinted newspaper or water suction equipment. 2/1999 . it is advantageous to rinse the wetting agent out of the fabric from the squeegee side. emulsion side up. Drying: For accurate register.
Fixing: The exposed film is fixed in a bath of hydrogen peroxide. The disadvantage of indirect stencils is their loose attachment to the mesh.17 . Before making any stencil. Since indirect film is exposed separately from the stencil. the fabric should be degreased with a suitable degreasing agent. then attached to the fabric mesh. fabric colour has no effect on exposure time or stencil edge sharpness. – Copying error The film backing sheet was not removed prior to exposure. Indirect stencils are thin and have little influence on ink volume. However.9 Indirect stencils Indirect stencils are made independently. General procedure for making indirect stencils Roughening: New fabric should be roughened on the print side with silicon carbide 500. Follow the film manufacturer’s instructions. 6. Degreasing: Exposure: © Copyright by SEFAR. Important: Determine correct exposure time through step exposures. or the manufacturer’s proprietary powder. there is a uniform amount of light scatter because the exposure is made through the film substrate.– Insufficient exposure time results in poor adhesion of the film on the fabric. which makes them insufficiently durable for long print runs. – Insufficient drying before exposure also results in poor adhesion of the film on the fabric. Do not use household detergents. and hence unhardened particles on the emulsion side are washed out during development. Unexposed. 2/1999 Stencils 6. The pre-sensitised indirect film is exposed through the polyester substrate.
Bring a corner of the wet stencil in contact with the film. Longer exposure tends to make the film harder and more brittle. it must be degreased as well. Drying must be at room temperature. – Insufficient fabric degreasing Having mechanically abraded the fabric.Developing: Rinse the film in warm water. Follow the film manufacturer’s instructions about water temperature. emulsion side up. 6. and let the film draw itself up onto the mesh. so it cannot attach itself to the fabric during transfer. Transfer: Drying: Retouching: Troubleshooting indirect stencils Poor film adhesion to the fabric: – Insufficient pre-treatment of the fabric Fabric must always be roughened on the print side with silicon carbide 500. thorough rinsing is absolutely essential. 2/1999 . Pinholes and film edges can be covered with a water-soluble screen filler. Remove excess water from the squeegee side. because the particles are of uneven size and can clog the mesh. – Inactive developer It is best to use the developer recommended by the film manufacturer. remove the polyester backing sheet. When thoroughly dry.18 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. using unprinted newspaper. Place the film emulsion side up on a sandblasted glass plate. Rinse cold. Hydrogen peroxide deteriorates with prolonged storage. Roughening and degreasing are not the same thing! – Excessive exposure time This is the main cause of poor adhesion of indirect film with the fabric. Household scouring powder is an unsuitable abrasive.
40 30 20 B 10 0 250 300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700 A Invisible and visible light spectrum A = wavelength B = spectral emission W/5 nm Suitable UV light sources are: – metal halogen lamps from 2000 to 6000 watts – mercury vapour lamps – high pressure mercury lamps – mercury halogen lamps – super-actinic fluorescent lamps Although xenon lamps are used in offset printing. 6. to coincide with the maximum sensitivity of stencil films and photo-emulsions. The emission spectrum should peak in the range from approx. 350–420 nm. Unexposed areas remain water-soluble and can later be washed out using cold or lukewarm water. 2/1999 Stencils 6. indirect stencils should be dried only at room temperature. © Copyright by SEFAR. We recommend a point source (spotlight) for exposure reproducibility. – The polyester backing sheet should be removed only after thorough drying. Many UV light sources are suitable for exposing the photo-sensitive layer.19 . Therefore. their spectral range is not sufficient for screen printing.– Drying the stencil with warm air Drying an indirect stencil in warm air tends to make the edges curl up.10 Exposure Exposing the dried photosensitive layer to UV light causes uncovered areas to harden (polymerisation) and cease to be water-soluble.
Lamp 1m 1 Lux 2m 1/4 Lux 6. the stronger the light source needed. The distance between the exposure lamp and the copy frame should be at least as great as the diagonal width of the area to be exposed. to maintain constant exposure. the exposure time must also be increased in proportion to the square of the distance increase. The larger the area to be exposed. and also at least 1. Therefore. If several tubes are stacked in parallel. Lamp 1m 1m Increasing the distance between the lamp and the copy reduces the radiant intensity in proportion to the square of the distance increase. 2/1999 . their separation must be no more than the distance to the stencil.Light tubes can also be used if fine line or half-tone reproduction is not required.5 times the diagonal of the image area to be exposed. Under no circumstances should the angle of the light cone exceed 60°.20 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR.
52 x 60sec. We recommend using a light meter for the following reasons: – to compensate for light intensity at various distances.25 x 60sec.= 2. 2 2 x old exposure time = 150 cm = 100 cm = 1 minute (60 seconds) x 60sec.=135sec.Formula: new distance New exposure time = old distance Example: new distance old distance old exposure time 150 100 The new exposure time is thus 2 minutes 15 seconds. Exposure too short (squeegee side) Correct exposure (squeegee side) © Copyright by SEFAR.21 . 2/1999 Stencils 6. Tests with step exposures are therefore vital to determining the correct exposure time. – to compensate for reduced light intensity caused by lamp ageing. Bear in mind that coloured fabrics require longer exposure times than white fabrics.=2min.15sec.=1.
and the distance between the lamp and the material to be exposed.22 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. Underexposed Correctly exposed Making a step exposure A step exposure is best made with a test positive containing at least 5 identical images featuring positive and negative fine lines and halftones. Correct exposure time depends on the characteristics of the photo emulsion or film.11 Step exposures Step exposures are a means of determining the optimum exposure time. progressing through 50% – 75% – 100% – 125% – 150% of the nominal exposure. 2/1999 . the light source. which rapidly leads to undercutting problems. overall thickness.6. photo emulsion on the squeegee side is washed away during development. which impedes ink flow during printing. A smudged photosensitive layer is a sure sign of underexposure. some of the dissolved photo emulsion sticks in the open parts of the stencil. the fabric. Underexposed stencils also have poor resistance to solvents. this is especially noticeable with white fabric. 6. The stencil is also difficult to reclaim afterwards. With inadequate rinsing. If the nominal exposure time is unknown. 5 times are chosen. printing inks and mechanical wear. The un-dyed threads of the white fabric reflect light during exposure. Overexposed stencils may suffer from reduced resolution. this must be calculated from the emulsion manufacturer’s data. A barely visible scum is left behind after drying. Underexposed stencils do not harden all the way through.
We can therefore assume that step three (100%) is the minimum exposure time.The test positive is laid on the stencil. The effect is more subtle with pure photopolymer coatings. The third image (100%) is then covered as well. make another step exposure based on a shorter exposure time. make another step exposure based on a longer exposure time. With diazo coatings. During development. and the remaining two given a further 25% exposure. 2/1999 Stencils 6. This indicates a correct exposure. The fourth image (125%) is now covered. all five images are exposed for the first step (50%). At step three. 125% and 150%). Once the vacuum has established firm contact between film and stencil. and placed in the vacuum frame. One image is covered up.23 . the colour difference between individual steps is highly recognisable. the stencil should no longer be smudged on the squeegee side. it becomes apparent that different exposure times produce a varying degree of stencil discoloration. and the remaining four given a further 25% exposure. This provides the fifth step (150%). although it is possible to judge exposure based on the presence of smudging: no smudging = hardened through. © Copyright by SEFAR. emulsion side down. The second image (75%) is then covered as well. and the last image given a final 25% exposure. and the remaining three given a further 25% exposure. when there is no colour difference between the first and second steps (already hardened through). There should be no colour difference between the remaining steps (100%. On the other hand. Should there be a colour difference between the fourth and fifth steps (not hardened through). The difference between steps is especially visible if the first two steps (50% and 75%) are underexposed.
5mm to the limiting resolution of the silver film – circular lines. 2/1999 .025 – 1.ESMA test film The ESMA test film is designed for checking the optimum exposure time for stencil-making. and straight lines at varying angles – various line widths (0. Discoloration through a step exposure (no half-tone factors) is used to find the best compromise between hardening and optimum resolution (sharp details). The test film incorporates the following features: – five identical images for step exposures – positive and negative details – radial lines from 0.00 mm) – text at various sizes – raster ruling 24 L/cm / 45° / tone values 0% – 100% 6.24 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR.
6.6.12 Rinsing For rinsing an exposed stencil. Rinsing trough with water suction equipment Small screens can be drawn over a stationary water suction nozzle.25 . This prevents scum formation (clouding) and considerably shortens the drying time. A water suction unit withdraws excess water from the stencil. 2/1999 Stencils 6.13 Influence of coating thickness on print sharpness A B C Direction of squeegee stroke A) stencil too thin B) correct stencil C) stencil too thick → → → sawtooth effect sharp print unclear print © Copyright by SEFAR. we recommend using a nozzle where the water pressure can be regulated.
1. and line widths exceeding approx. the squeegee can press quite hard onto the substrate. The film coating bridges the screen mesh evenly. 6. The problems shown under A.26 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. A B A) correct stencil B) stencil too thick → uniform ink volume → higher ink volume at the edges 6.14 Influence of stencil thickness on ink volume Printing open areas When printing open areas.5 mm. 2/1999 .Stencils with direct or indirect film system Stencils using these film systems print the thinnest ink layer (3–5 µm stencil profile on the print side of the mesh) without a saw-tooth effect. B and C are therefore less important (assuming the correct choice of mesh and film thickness). A thick stencil will then give an elevated ink volume at the edges of the area to be printed.
A B A) correct stencil B) stencil too thick → → good ink volume ink volume too high © Copyright by SEFAR.Half-tones and fine lines Stencil thickness heavily influences ink volume in half-tone printing. and smudging of the dense halftone areas (change of tone values) – incorrect colour reproduction due to the high ink volume.27 . A stencil that is too thick causes: – loss of print in the light areas. The half-tone dots support the fabric over the entire area to be printed. The greater the stencil thickness. 2/1999 Stencils 6. the higher the ink volume.
which makes them detrimental to nylon fabric. or a special lacquer – Dry and re-expose – Brush hardener onto both sides. it can be finally hardened by heating at 50 °C for 1 hour. or leaving at room temperature for 24 hours. emulsions that can be processed in the normal way and given a final chemical treatment to make them resistant to water and chemicals. Hardener may be applied using a wide brush (not a polyamide brush). Hardener is evenly applied to both sides of the horizontal stencil. It should therefore rest for approx. Take care to follow the lacquer manufacturer’s instructions. the stencil is practically insoluble and cannot be removed from the mesh by chemicals generally used in screen printing.15 Hardening stencils for printing water-based colours General procedure – Exposure and development as with graphic stencils – Retouching with the same emulsion. This kind of stencil hardening process is generally used for printing water-based inks used in graphic and ceramic screen printing.28 Stencils © Copyright by SEFAR. Attention: Most hardeners are acidic. Screens are made using photo lacquer. a felt squeegee.e. Note: 6. 2/1999 . Polyamides are sensitive even to weak acids. After final hardening.6. i. allow it to react for 15–20 minutes – Blow or suck the mesh free Hardening procedure Textile and ceramic printing generally use water-based inks. or a sponge. Attention: as little excess as possible! It is important for the hardener to penetrate the coating before the stencil is finally fixed. Thereafter. 15–20 minutes at room temperature.
© Copyright by SEFAR. – Apply reclaiming agent to both sides of the screen. Again. – Wash clean with a high-pressure water jet (50–100 bar. 3 – 5 cm distance) – Remove any remaining ink deposits with special solvents. 2/1999 Stencils 6. Reclaiming is best done immediately after printing.16 Reclaiming After printing. before the cleaning fluid has a chance to dry with any ink particles left on the screen. until the emulsion dissolves. we recommend following the film and emulsion manufacturer’s instructions. Reclaiming process: – Wash the screen until the screen filler is removed. ink is washed off the screen with the recommended cleaning fluid.29 .6.
1 Summary of key recommendations Fabric – High-modulus POLYESTER – Dimensionally stable – Unaffected by heat and humidity – Optimum handling and treatment using modern equipment Stencil frames (see also the chapter on frames) – Do not use wooden frames – Use steel or aluminium frames – Use a profile of adequate strength – Consider side-reinforced profiles – Check frame flatness – Select an ideal relationship between the printing area and the size of the frame Stretching machine (mechanical) – Use a stretching machine with movable clamps – Clamps must hold the fabric without letting it slip – Clamps must be free of old glue – Ease the strain on the fabric by pulling it out at the corner clamps – If possible.7.1 . Register 7. pre-stress the frame using suitable equipment – Continually check the tension using a measuring device (see TETKOMAT. 2/1999 Register 7. NEWTONTESTER) – Observe the fabric manufacturer’s recommended tension Stretching machine (pneumatic) – Use a stretching machine with movable clamps – Clamps must hold the fabric without letting it slip – Clamps must be free of old glue – Continually check the tension using a measuring device (see TETKOMAT. NEWTONTESTER) – Observe the fabric manufacturer’s recommended tension © Copyright by SEFAR.
always use the same length of squeegee – Ink viscosity Conditioning of the working area and printing stock – 55 – 65% RH (Relative Humidity) is considered ideal – Room temperature 18 – 21°C – High drying tunnel temperatures can affect the dimensions of the print stock. exact agreement of the impressions at the beginning and at the end of a printing run.g. 2/1999 . in multi-colour printing. i. or between any individual. a diapositive) and the impression on the printing stock. It is common practice to send unprinted stock through the tunnel before the first printing pass. 7. further. intermediate impressions. Accurate register further includes constant location of the printed impression on the successive. constant distance and angle between the printed impression and the margin edges or locating holes in the printing stock.2 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. individual printed units. exact congruence between the printed impressions of the various colours (colour register).e. 7.Gluing – Use a two-component adhesive to prevent subsequent fabric slippage caused by temperature and solvents – Observe the manufacturer’s recommended ratio of adhesive to hardener – Observe correct drying times – Observe the glue’s pot life Printing – A perfectly flat printing table is crucial – Minimum lift-off – Minimum squeegee pressure – Optimal lift-off conditions (consistent snap-off angle over the entire printing area) – Squeegee speed – Print stencil laterally (shorter squeegee travel) – In multi-colour printing.2 Problems of accurate register We can define accurate register as: – Exact congruence between an original (e.
3 The diapositive The diapositive consists of a polyester base and a photographic emulsion.3 . 7. say.1 mm thick. the diapositive spreads. © Copyright by SEFAR. Any hysteresis effect can be disregarded.21 mm per linear metre in response to a 10% increase in relative atmospheric humidity (RH). the RH change mentioned above causes the film to change by only 0. A temperature increase of. The polyester base itself can be considered unconditionally stable for screen printing purposes. below). The polyester film most commonly used for diapositives is 0. The comparatively insignificant dimensional changes in diapositive material are of little importance in screen printing. Textile screen printers. especially paper and cardboard (see the section on printing substrates. principally by swelling of the emulsion. poster printers and circuit printers will each have their own ideas on the subject.18 mm polyester diapositive base frequently used in circuit printing responds to temperature changes in a similar way to the thinner film. and secondly on the results attainable in screen printing generally.Absolute accuracy is unattainable in practice. However. considering the far greater dimensional changes in the printing stock. since the attainable improvement would be insignificant. However. and we must consequently define what we mean by ”accuracy” in screen printing. 5°C causes it to shrink by about 0. and in what cases it would be pointless to seek higher accuracy.) The 0. This depends firstly on the purpose and intention of the individual screen print.16 mm.135 mm per metre. 2/1999 Register 7. we can and must consider all the possibilities of faulty register and for each cause determine the possible order of magnitude. This indicates which points should receive attention if register is to be improved. Cellulose-based layout or mounting foils are not recommended. (Temperature and RH are considered separately. Despite this individuality of aims and means. it should be remembered RH falls with rising temperature and constant absolute humidity. A similar drop in temperature and humidity causes the polyester film to respond in the opposite sense. it expands by about 0. As temperature and humidity rise.
a) The linear coefficient of thermal expansion Given our standard temperature increase of 5°C. consider the straight longitudinal section of a DIN A0 steel frame.4 The stencil Steel and light alloy frames Stencil frames are of considerable importance in securing accurate register. Aluminium frames expand by about double this amount. The fluctuations depend on the stability or rigidity of the frame. For instance. 2/1999 . the stability of the fabric. every centimetre of the fabric edge). even with the usual reinforced section (cf. recommended frame sizes and profiles).06–0. and the distance between the screen and the printing stock.e. Fluctuations can be minimised in practice by applying countermeasures to the frames: 7. Concave frame A permanently sagging frame has less influence on register than a fluctuating sag.07 mm per linear metre. The sag increases more than linearly with increasing size. a steel frame expands by about 0. which we have adopted for practical reasons. This works out at around 200 kg per metre. b) Frame distortion by fabric pull Screen printing gauze stretched to about 20 Newton/cm exerts a pull of around 2 kg on every centimetre of the frame (i. will lose 1/4 of its stretch. initially strained to about 2% elongation. The polyester gauze.7. with a mid-side sag of about 3 mm due to the tension in the stretched gauze.4 Register © Copyright by SEFAR.
5–10 mm per metre during frame fabrication. the frame is given sufficient concave curvature either by a strap. Fabric pull and frame tension thus balance each other. or the force of the stretching clamps as they prop themselves against the outside edge of the printing frame.Mechanical pre-stressing device Pre-stressed frame with SEFAR clamps Before gluing the fabric. 2/1999 Register 7. then welding them at this angle which is slightly in excess of 90°. Convex frame © Copyright by SEFAR.5 . It is possible to give the long sides a convex bend of approx.
alcohol-based cleaner) before glue is applied for the first time. On the other hand. There can be especial difficulties when a hinge of a hand printer is too weak to hold the frame. Steel frames are protected by galvanising or two-component lacquer.6 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. which interferes with squeegee pressure and uniform ink release.8. contrary to the usual practice in hand printing. Recommendations for frame size and profile In machine printing. aluminium requires heavier roughening than steel. including uncertain register and smeared print. on one side only. To achieve satisfactory bonding of adhesive to the frame. in other words. Steel versus aluminium Steel of the type used for screen printing frames has a specific gravity of about 7. or only about 1/3 the weight. The distance between the stencil and the print substrate becomes non-uniform. The high weight of large steel frames is a disadvantage. has to be determined by experiment for every printing machine. both for labour and equipment. which should be part of every good frame manufacturer’s equipment. 2/1999 . squeegee motion is usually in the direction of the frame width. Levelling frames during manufacture or repair requires a very expensive levelling plate or slab.7.Frame warping under various mechanical stresses The fabric exerts a powerful pulling force. Warped or twisted frames always give difficulties with printing. The sizes a machine can use have to be determined through individual trials. Virtually all screen printing frames are now blasted with sand or steel. The size of the ink rests. light alloys about 2. 7. sections and sides of aluminium frames have to be somewhat thicker than steel frames. and in obtaining correct register. New aluminium frames must be cleaned with solvent (e. This defect cannot be corrected merely by selecting a frame with a stable cross section. Depending on the means of securing the frame in the printing machine. Ink reservoirs that are too small give rise to a range of problems. along the sides and in particular at the top and bottom. Rough handling of printing frames is another common cause of warping.g. the danger of frames becoming warped in use should not be underestimated.
0 Edge length 100 cm 18 N 28 N 0.Insufficiently strong frame profiles inevitably lead to problems such as: – loss of tension at the centre of the printing area – poor register – reduced stencil life.41 0.64 Flexures in mm © Copyright by SEFAR.17 6. etc.53 4.54 4.46 1.42 Edge length 200 cm 18 N 28 N Edge length 300 cm 18 N 28 N 6.8/1.27 1.49 0.5 40 x 40 x 2.76 0.94 mm.27 11.5/1.8 60 x 40 x 3. Profile 40 x 30 x 2. 2/1999 Register 7.7 50 x 40 x 3. The following table shows the amount of frame flexing (mm) for a given profile and frame length (cm) under a given tension (N/cm).32 1.84 10.7 .66 2.0 80 x 40 x 4.31 7.94 0.0/2.28 1.5 mm profile under a load of 18 N/cm will flex by 0.64 0.18 0.74 6.0 100 x 40 x 4. Example: A frame 100 cm long fabricated from 40 x 30 x 2.
0/2.8 Register © Copyright by SEFAR.0/3.Frame size and profile sections: D C1 B1 D C B A B B1 A A B / B1 Format Printable area DIN in mm A4 A3 A2 A1 A0 210 x 300 300 x 420 420 x 590 590 x 840 840 x 1180 1200 x 1600 1400 x 1800 1600 x 2100 Ink rests side/top in mm 150/150 150/150 150/150 160/160 180/180 200/200 220/220 250/250 Aluminium Aluminium sections Steel sections and with various sections and Frame inside wall wall wall dimensions thicknesses thicknesses thicknesses in mm in mm in mm in mm 510 x 600 600 x 720 720 x 890 910 x 1160 1290 x 1540 1600 x 2000 1840 x 2240 2100 x 2600 40/50 3. 2/1999 .0 40/40 1.5/2.0 40/60 3.0 40/40 2.0 100/40 6.0 40/40 2.0 40/50 2.5-3.0 40/50 3.0 60/40 6.4/3.0/3.0 40/50 4.0 80/40 6.5/2.5 C / C1 7.
Register inaccuracies are influenced by: – ink viscosity – squeegee pressure – squeegee shape and position – squeegee hardness – printing speed – surface condition of the printing substrate – screen stability © Copyright by SEFAR.008 mm A = 2 mm V = 0.032 mm A = 3 mm V = 0.018 mm The friction of the squeegee on the stencil leads to a shifting or distortion of the imprint in the direction of the squeegee motion. Register . front view: A = 1 mm V = 0. side view: A = 1 mm V = 0.. 7. A Mesh distortion „V“. 2/1999 ..072 mm 500 . The change or distortion of the impression depends primarily on the distance between the stencil and the printing substrate (snap-off).008 mm A = 3 mm V = 0. Mesh distortion as a function of the lift-off distance: Internal screen dimension: 1000 mm 125 750 125 .Screen printing fabric Non-contact printing with lift-off necessarily distorts the stencil carrier. . . even before consideration of the fabric shift caused by the squeegee action.002 mm A = 2 mm V = 0. A Mesh distortion „V“..9 .
c) Fabric strength The strength and stretch resistance of a monofilament thread increase in proportion to the square of the diameter. d) High-modulus polyester fabrics High-modulus polyester fabrics are characterised by increased strength and dimensional stability. a) Polyamide Even with maximum stabilisation. where high stretchability is desirable. correctly tensioned.10 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. the desired ink volume. Calendering inevitably reduces the mesh opening. A fabric woven from relatively thick threads is thus more stretch resistant and prints with better register. They are primarily used for printing curved surfaces. e) OSC fabrics for printing UV inks Calendered (i. b) Polyester / steel For precision-register prints. but cannot be quantified. the choice is between polyester and steel (V2A) screen fabrics. Numerous comparative tests have been made.e. 7. particularly by circuit printers. which can be desirable for very low-viscosity lacquers and UV inks. Steel has even higher stretch resistance than polyester. The choice of mesh count. since other factors previously mentioned always interfere. and promote good register. They find use in virtually all screen printing applications. hardly move. cannot achieve the stretch resistance of polyester fabrics. nylon fabrics (polyamide). It is impossible to specify reliable coefficients for register differences and the differences between polyester and steel mesh. Nevertheless. 2/1999 . they satisfy register requirements and are less sensitive to blows and shock. polyester stencils are often preferred because.This requires investigation of the qualities of the stencil carrier (fabric) in regard to elongation resistance. and thread diameter depend on the fineness of the print. and fabric permeability. Steel’s higher susceptibility to fatigue is well known in practice. heat-flattened) fabrics offer less resistance to squeegee motion. while the strength of the fabric only increases in linear proportion to the mesh count. especially in larger sizes.
but even more so by the strength of the fabric and the rigidity of the printing frame. Differing tensions can be useful in very narrow or curved frames. 4–6% for polyamide) c) using instruments that measure the sag of the fabric under applied weight.f) Static electricity Electrostatic charging of polyamide and polyester fabrics is prevented by pre-treating the gauze during manufacture on the one hand.11 . as well as by appropriate conditioning of the working area (RH > 55%). can limit the build-up of electrostatic charge during printing. The degree of tension can be measured in different ways: a) pressure gauge on pneumatic stretching equipment b) measuring elongation of a predetermined length of fabric before and after stretching (2–4% elongation for polyester fabrics. © Copyright by SEFAR. The tensioning force is limited by the nature and capacity of the stretching equipment. Fabrics woven from high-viscose polyester can be stretched to extraordinary levels. as used for printing skis. Ionisers. 2/1999 Register 7. and for stretching frames of generally similar size. Very high fabric tension allows a small distance between the screen and the printing stock. TETKOMAT) Good quality fabrics have the same stretch resistance in warp and weft. Optimal fabric tension 1) Degree of stretch: See also the chapter on fabric stretching. and do not require different degrees of stretching. and display the result scaled in mm or N/cm (NEWTONTESTER. and anti-static additives in printing ink. 2) Choice of stretching machine: Pneumatic stretching equipment is recommended for best register precision. as well as in rotary printing. and precise adjustment of the squeegee pressure. Mechanical stretching machines are suited to stretching frames of many differing sizes.
3) Pneumatic tensioning: The fabric must be clamped parallel to the warp and weft threads. The clamps must hold the fabric gently enough not to cause damage. Fabric is pulled out a little from the corner clamps. The stretching equipment must be extremely well treated and maintained. Stretching with pneumatic clamps 4) Stretching with mechanical machines: The fabric must be clamped parallel to the warp and weft threads. The warp and weft must be stretched equally. but tight enough to avoid slippage. to avoid local over-stretching (see table).12 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. 7. Unsynchronised clamp movements produce shear forces that can tear the fabric. Take care that the sum total of the clamp lengths does not exceed the length of the printing frame. The clamps should line up flush beside each other. and pull uniformly and simultaneously at the fabric. 2/1999 .
Y1 X1 X2 X1 X2 a a Y2 a a X2 X1 X1 X2 a = pocket SEFAR PET 1000 Frame length Y1 or Y2 1m 2m 3m 4m Slack at positions X1 and X2 for maximum tensioning force of: 10 N/cm 5 mm 10 mm 15 mm 20 mm 20 N/cm 10 mm 15 mm 20 mm 25 mm 30 N/cm 15 mm 20 mm 25 mm 30 mm Gluing fabric to the printing frame 1) Frame pre-treatment: The adhesion surface of new frames must be roughened and degreased. Old glue should be removed from used frames where possible. 2) Solvent-proof adhesives (two-component glue): Modern glues are required to be: – easily spread. 2/1999 Register 7. Sharp edges and corners must be smoothed down.13 . 1 hour pot life – fast drying time (depends on fabric number) – mechanical tensile strength 80 – 90 kg per 10 cm of selvedge – solvent-proof within less than 24 hours – hot water proof (max. approx. 70ºC) © Copyright by SEFAR.
2/1999 . Conditioning Optimum climatic conditions exist for achieving high-quality results on paper and cardboard. which is extremely important. temperature affects the relative moisture content of the printing substrate. 7.14 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. 2) Effect of relative humidity: All vegetable fibres. It is extremely important to allow the substrate to become acclimatised to the environment in the print room. Paper and cardboard 1) Effect of temperature: Normal changes in room temperature have surprisingly little effect on paper and cardboard characteristics by themselves.) However. are hygroscopic. Composition Composite substrates that have been woven. and mechanical pulp absorbs the most moisture of all. Water absorption is increased by heavy milling. (Printers require a certain temperature level and stability more because of ink viscosity and drying characteristics. it will absorb less water than if it has been left moist (hysteresis).5 The printing substrate Importance of air and material conditioning to the dimensional stability of the material to be printed. If possible. cellulose (wood pulp) is somewhere in the middle. If the paper has been previously dried. Rag papers (made from textile waste) absorb the least water. Water absorption strongly depends on the quality of the paper. coated or laminated from several materials should undergo an ink test to determine dimensional changes brought about by the ink and solvents (curling/buckling). of which paper and cardboard are made. atmospheric conditions should be the same in the print room and in the warehouse.7. Paper’s hygroscopic behaviour further depends on its preconditioning. and reduced by high filler content.
to self-adhesive foils before being attached to a base.e. Degree of elongation As a rule of thumb. whether a foil has been rolled on or affixed to a backing. a paper is exposed to stresses that may remain largely latent. if the adhesive is covered with a protective paper. they are flattest between 40 – 60% relative humidity.g.8 – 1 mm per linear metre – longitudinally to the machine direction: 0.25 mm per linear metre 0. for SK* 95 g/m2 offset paper) can be estimated at: – transverse: – longitudinal: 1.The wet elongation curves for the papers mentioned above are all S-shaped.48 mm per linear metre for a 10% change in relative humidity. 2/1999 Register 7. of course. it tends to contract in the machine direction while expanding transversely. be so elastic that it will follow all the dimensional changes of the base or backing to which it is affixed. it is first necessary to establish whether the printing base consists of a single material or a composite: e. it can be assumed that under working conditions of around 50% relative humidity. a change of 10% will cause the following dimensional changes in the printing stock: – transverse to the machine direction: 0. The foil to be printed may. Plastics Here again. Papers with closely compacted fibres spread more. i. During manufacture.3 mm or less per linear metre. © Copyright by SEFAR. As soon as the paper becomes softened by moisture. The same applies. The average dimensional changes between 20 and 80% relative humidity (e. because the fibres tend to orient themselves in the machine direction and fibres swell many times more diametrically than longitudinally.g. in some cases. elongation is less along the paper’s manufacturing length than across its width. Moreover.15 .
and moisture absorption proceeds so slowly that the plastic can take hours or days to respond to a change in relative humidity.16 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. polyester-based.35 . brought about by temperature and humidity fluctuations. It depends on whether these foils are unlacquered (PT foils). Dimensional change in mm/linear metre for a temperature variation of 5°C: – polyester – PVC – transparent acrylic Glassine foils When printing on glassine foils (transparent viscose foils. vary widely. has to be considered. The influence of solvents on PVC. however. Changes caused by temperature fluctuations are of more importance than those due to varying humidity. The dimensional change in response to a 5°C temperature change is 0. Summary The factors discussed affecting accurate register show that the primary stencil requisites for best printing results are: – frame stability – correct fabric stretching – the stencil making method 0. e. which are not counted among the synthetic plastics). Dimensional changes in plastics.g.7 mm per metre. foils are an exception. Conductivity is generally very low. which are practically insignificant. 2/1999 . acetate foils (viscose treated with ethanoic acid) are preferred. provided no difficulties arise in regard to inks and printing procedures.5 0.35 7.135 0. not considering dimensional changes due to moisture. where fluctuating humidity can lead to bulging as the protective paper expands and contracts more than the foil itself. Acetate Where accurate printing register is important. considerable dimensional changes must be expected as a result of their strongly hygroscopic nature.0. or lacquered with cellulose (MSAT foils) or PVDC (MXXT or K foils).Relatively rigid.
or – 10% change in relative atmospheric humidity We disregard the inverse relationship between temperature and relative humidity. © Copyright by SEFAR.17 . 2/1999 Register 7. In general. Below. Data are given in terms of mm per linear metre. This is intended to help pinpoint sources of error whose elimination would be advantageous. the following numerical values will have to be multiplied according to the actual atmospheric fluctuations in each individual case.Factors such as dimensional changes of – polyester-based diapositives – the frame material itself – use of polyester or steel as the stencil carrier are less important. we use as standards: – 5°C temperature variation. and requires highly accurate supervision. Register is further influenced by: – squeegee pressure – squeegee hardness – ink viscosity – lift-off height – type of facility – printing machine quality Proper conditioning of the print room and printing stock are crucial when printing on paper and cardboard. we again compare the various possible dimensional changes to compare their importance. For dimensional changes caused by temperature and humidity. It should further be noted that air conditioning within tolerances of ±2°C and ±5% humidity represents an advanced standard for a modern screen printing facility.
18 Register © Copyright by SEFAR. 0. 0.025 0.03 and over 7.3 approx.065 0.16 0 0 2) Mechanically induced dimensional changes: Fluctuations in frame warping Distance between stencil and printing stock: 3 mm lift-off DIN A1 5 mm lift-off DIN A1 impression length impression width impression length impression width 0.1 mm thick Diapositive.13 10% rel.1 approx.065 0.8 .135 0.075 0.180 up to approx.21 0. polyester 0.1) Dimensional changes induced by climatic conditions in mm: 5°C temperature change Diapositive.02 and over approx. humidity change 0.3 0. polyester 0.18 mm thick Steel frame Aluminium frame Printing stock: Paper. 2/1999 . 0.135 0. transverse elongation Longitudinal elongation insignificant insignificant approx. 0. 2 mm Distortion by squeegee friction: Well-stretched steel stencil Well-stretched polyester stencil Indirect stencil: Film shrinkage through washing and drying up to approx. 0.
Raster printing The original artwork to be half-tone printed is frequently a photographic image.8. 8.1 .1 AM raster (amplitude modulated rastering) An area of continuous tone is resolved into a grid. In other words. using an AM or FM raster. we have a fixed dot spacing with variable dot area. while the dot spacing remains fixed. This is done by translating the continuous-tone image into half-tone dots. the result is a curve whose amplitude changes according to the dot coverage. it becomes clear how the dot size is related to colour intensity. If we draw a plot of dot area on the vertical axis against dot spacing on the horizontal axis. Viewed under a microscope. with fixed frequency and changing intensity or amplitude. while the distance between the dots is fixed. with rows of larger and smaller dots. The artwork must first be converted into a printable form. Analogue raster with variable area (amplitude) © Copyright by SEFAR. Images of this kind cannot generally be raster printed in their original form: photographs are always continuoustone images. The general shape of the curve is not unlike an ”amplitude modulated” waveform. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. where the gradient from light to dark has no discernible point structure.
20 % tone value Conventional (AM) 80 % tone value Agfa CristalRaster Heidelberg Prepress Diamond Raster UGRA/FOGRA Velvet Raster Scitex Fulltone Crosfield 8. extremely small dots.2 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. the end result is an apparently analogue (smooth tone) representation of the original image. The recording technology allows representing a continuous-tone image by varying the distribution of uniformly sized. Countermeasures. The first laser and film recorders were designed merely to reproduce the well-established analogue raster angles and pitches. digital half-tone model.Although the printing process is inherently digital (1/0. the very nature of the technique encourages moiré patterns. 2/1999 . Applied to colour printing. However. such as angling the individual colour separations. ink/no ink). the technique’s growing popularity has given rise to new rendering models that go under the general name of ”frequencymodulated rasters”. are required to minimise the moirés inevitably produced by multicolour printing.2 FM raster (frequency-modulated rastering) The ability to produce laser-generated points smaller than the smallest practicable analogue raster dot opens the possibilities of emulating analogue rasters. Varying coverage is achieved by varying the number of recorded dots per unit area. 8. or pursuing a new.
We recommend a dot diameter corresponding to at least 2 threads plus 1 mesh opening of the raster printing fabric. but variable distance between adjacent peaks.3 . In their place come other disturbances such as clustering or heaping. we obtain curves of constant amplitude. It should also be apparent that this type of half-tone translation virtually eliminates moiré effects. as well as being all the same size. If we draw a plot of dot size as amplitude on the vertical axis against dot spacing on the horizontal axis. Coverage and frequency modulation Various methods have been devised for positioning the dots in an optimal manner. it is clear that an FM raster results in considerably finer dots on the film.Examining the dots. On a practical level. and hence uniform colour coverage. it is clear how they are much finer distributed than with an AM raster. It is important for the raster printer that the FM dots are of a minimum printable and reproducible size. © Copyright by SEFAR. The curve’s general character corresponds to a frequency-modulated waveform – which is why we speak of a frequency-modulated raster. 2/1999 Raster printing 8.
Monochrome half-tone images can be achieved using so-called ”effect rasters”. using transparent foils with a grained surface to achieve the half-tone structure. Even now. For textile printing. point or bead-string rulings. 8. one must determine a number of factors. there is a long-established type of graining known as the ”DIRACOP method”. including the type and fineness of the raster ruling. These are: – Corn raster – Worm raster – Line ruling – Circular ruling Corn raster example The uneven structure of corn and worm rasters is less prone to moiré effects than line.3 Types of raster rulings For a half-tone image to be effective at a given size and viewing distance. 2/1999 .8. diapositives are often prepared by hand .4 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR.
Four-colour printing uses the following dot shapes: – round dots – ellipsoidal dots (bead ruling) – square dots (chequerboard ruling) 1 = Dot raster. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. © Copyright by SEFAR. 70 % 2 = Bead ruling.5 . dots amalgamate at 50% Dot amalgamation Formation of discontinuities makes the way in which the raster dots amalgamate especially important in raster printing. Here. we examine each dot shape in turn at 46% and 52% coverage respectively. 40 % b) approx. dots amalgamate at a) approx. dots amalgamate at approx. 60 % 3 = Chequerboard ruling.
Dot amalgamation is direction-dependent: two neighbouring dots first chain together. resulting in a steep tone value transition. 2/1999 . 8. In raster printing. it affects four neighbouring dots simultaneously. then the two parallel chains combine. and at amalgamation Round dots only amalgamate at 65–70%. though.Round dots at 46% and52% coverage. Square dots at 46% and 52% coverage Square dots amalgamate with four neighbouring dots simultaneously. the effect is further emphasised by the high ink deposit. and this results in a steep tone value transition. This results in a virtually unnoticeable transition.6 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. the dots amalgamate at two distinct tone values. When this happens. Ellipsoidal dots at 46% and52% coverage With a beaded raster.
7 . in order to select a mesh of the correct fineness. if the raster dot is to be adequately supported by the mesh.8. © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. Areas with the highest ink coverage. where the smallest dots of emulsion must cling to the fabric. coverage L/cm 20 22 25 28 30 32 34 40 48 54 60 5% 126 114 101 90 84 79 74 63 52 46 42 10% 15% 20% 30% 178 162 142 127 119 111 105 89 74 66 59 218 198 175 156 145 136 128 109 90 81 72 252 229 202 180 168 157 148 126 105 93 84 309 280 247 220 206 193 182 154 128 114 103 70% 80% 85% 90% 95% 309 280 247 220 206 193 182 154 128 114 103 252 229 202 180 168 157 148 126 105 93 84 218 198 175 156 145 136 128 109 90 81 72 178 162 142 127 119 111 105 89 74 66 59 126 114 101 90 84 79 74 63 52 46 42 Table of dot sizes From the examples above. Fabric and half-tone fineness The finest details should properly adhere to the gauze. Critical dot sizes Strictly speaking. are particularly critical. it is clear that the diameter of the smallest dot must correspond to two threads plus one mesh opening. i. or even fall through the mesh opening. the diameter of the smallest half-tone dot on the diapositive should be microscopically measured.e.4 Raster ruling The fineness of the raster ruling (L/cm) is always linked with the fineness of the mesh and the type of stencil. The smallest points should not be allowed to rest on just one thread.
the intense and effective depth of colour. 5 % coverage Fineness and viewing distance 10 % coverage 95 % coverage 90 % coverage The half-tone simulates continuous tone in as much as the eye cannot distinguish the individual dots anymore. the more difficult it is to avoid ink running in the high-coverage. Under normal conditions. When printing areas with low percentage coverage. the ink should flow freely through the smallest mesh openings without any obstruction from fabric threads or stencil thickness. a relatively light fabric is more advantageous than one with thick threads.8 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. dark print areas (smudging). In half-tone printing. because the finer the raster ruling and the higher the degree of coverage. This is the characteristic and advantage of raster printing. The thinner and finer the fabric. the less ink is deposited. the ink deposit should be relatively thin. There has to be at least one intervening retinal cell. the human eye discerns two adjacent points or lines as separate when their images do not impinge on two neighbouring retinal cells (rods or cones). The raster printing form (mesh + stencil) produces a thicker ink deposit than a litho plate.Ink flow in shadow areas Raster printing is a print-through process and not – as in offset – a transfer process. These fabrics are therefore better suited for fine half-tone printing. 8. namely. 2/1999 . In this respect. however.
6 mm 30 cm 1m 2m Raster rulings discernable to the eye Guidelines: Format < DIN A4 DIN A4 DIN A3 DIN A2 DIN A1 DIN A0 > DIN A0 Viewing distance < 0. 0. 0.5 m 0. The minimum angular resolution of the human eye is approx. 16 L/cm 30 L/cm 80 L/cm 0.5 m approx.3 mm 0.1 mm 0.9 .02°.The dots therefore become indistinguishable when their images fall on the same or two adjacent retinal cells.5-1 m 1-3 m 2-5 m 3-10 m 3-20m Half-tone dots per cm 36-48 24-36 18-24 15-20 12-18 12-15 -12 The following factors should be considered when determining whether a given print job is feasible: © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Raster printing 8.
the percentage coverage of the dots can range from 95% to 5%. choose a finer raster ruling. – For finer or softer images. In offset printing. This leads. For reproductions with predominantly dark areas. 8. Yellow. the ink must be relatively fluid in order to keep the dots open in the mesh. 30 dots/cm and finer. if the ink is made more viscous. Tone value of the colour separation: For half-tone raster printing. the smallest dots tend to dry too quickly and block the mesh. while permitting fine dots in the light areas of the image. one can choose finer raster rulings than for purely commercial raster prints.10 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR.5 Tone values of half-tone dots Tone value expresses the relative area coverage of the half-tone dots compared to maximum (100%) coverage. Tone value: Therefore. a raster printer is advised to limit himself to about three different raster rulings in order to gather the necessary initial experience. For a perfectly printed dot of. however.– Adapt the raster ruling to the surface structure of the printing material. 2/1999 . the repro photographer should calculate the maximum coverage for all four colours together. ink viscosity is a compromise in order to prevent smudging in dark areas. because the dots for 85% coverage tend to smudge if the ink is too thin. 15% lightness. For artistic raster printing. the higher the contrast of the print. such as for advertising. however. This applies to raster rulings of approx. On the other hand. From the commercial viewpoint. to difficulty in obtaining the tonal range. whereas the raster printer must be satisfied with a tone value range from approximately 85% to 10%. say. – Glaring or highly intensive colours require a relatively coarser raster ruling than pastel colours. 8. to reach an optimum density of 300%. can show higher coverage in order to produce the correct tone values for green and red. The coarser the half-tone ruling. the colour black should not attain more than 75% coverage.
© Copyright by SEFAR. which helps the repro specialist avoid the problems that would otherwise arise in half-tone printing. 8. A halftone step wedge with at least 10 tone values should be printed alongside the artwork. Examples for perfect reproduction of half-tone values in raster printing: up to 24 dots/cm up to 36 dots/cm up to 48 dots/cm 5-90 % 10-85 % 15-80 % These examples are based on the following general rules: The finest printable dot should have a diameter of 80–100 µm (This corresponds to the sum of 2 thread diameters + 1 mesh opening in a PET 150-31 fabric). 2/1999 Raster printing 8.6 Raster printing process line The process line is the characteristic curve describing the relationship between tone values on the diapositive and those of the corresponding printed image. The repro specialist uses a transmission densitometer to measure the half-tone values on the positive film. and a reflection densitometer on the print.11 . This illustrates present-day limits to commercial half-tone raster printing. The raster printing process line serves as a correction guideline. The results can be compared on a chart. the greater the difficulties. The raster printer therefore needs no measuring instrument.The finer the raster ruling.
2/1999 .12 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR.Densitometer Example of a printing process line Film tone value % 99 91 83 76 69 63 53 47 40 32 28 22 17 11 6 1 Print tone value % 100 98 94 89 84 76 59 53 44 35 28 22 15 7 2 0 Dot gain / loss +1 +7 +11 +13 +15 +13 +8 +6 +4 +3 0 0 -2 -4 -4 -1 100 90 80 75 70 65 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 8.
threads/cm. composition. © Copyright by SEFAR. e. clearance. thickness. capillary film. viscosity type. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. etc.The variances in tone values. indirect film specified in µm Rz value in µm type. pressure precise description. plotted as a curve. type of paper. type type.g. angle. manufacturer. tension N/cm emulsion.13 . result in the socalled process line: % 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 -2 -4 0 5 10 15 20 30 35 40 50 60 65 70 75 80 90 100 % Schematic representation of the printing colour scale Every process line must also specify the following operational parameters: – raster – fabric – type of stencil – stencil thickness – surface roughness – ink – machine – squeegee – printing stock lines/cm. The colour scale can be significantly influenced by a change in any single item in the list above. manufacturer hardness.
all three process colours must lie within a close tolerance range. Full tone field A further check. Raster and full tone Example full tone measurement: Colour CYAN YELLOW YELLOW 47B MAGENTA BLACK Required density 1.05 ± 0. To achieve a good grey balance.10 ± 0. The raster count is 24 dots/cm. is to measure the intensity of the printed ink.45 1.00 1. 2/1999 .14 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. which is of utmost importance in raster printing.85 Tolerance ± 0. A reflection densitometer is used to measure the ink intensity of the four colours in the full tone fields.10 ± 0. This facilitates visual and (preferably) densitometric checks on tone value transfer during printing.40 1.7 Printing control strip The FOGRA DKL-S1 control strip has been specially developed for half-tone raster printing. and may be used for visual and densitometric monitoring of the following: – Stencil production – Changes in tone values – Colour caste – Colour balance – Smearing effect Half-tone field This area features half-tone dots with coverage levels from 5% to 95%.8.10 ± 0.40 1.15 Measuring instrument: Densitometer Printing stock: Artistic printing papers 8.
C/M. C/Y.15 . with a tone value approximately equal to the 40% halftone field. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. This is a very sensitive indicator of shifting colour balance during a print run. It is important to use the same print-colour sequence for proof prints as well as for the production run. which can be caused by smearing effects.Overlaid printing fields M/Y. and C/M/Y These areas allow colour acceptance to be assessed both visually and by measurement. Balance field © Copyright by SEFAR. Ring field Balance field The combined three-colour print in the balance area should be a neutral grey. M/Y C/M C/Y C/M/Y Overlaid print Ring field This allows monitoring of transfer errors during printing.
it is essential that all the dots are completely opaque right up to their edges.g. 2/1999 .16 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. bead ruling) 8. Only impeccable diapositives are suited for half-tone work.8 Types of stencils Generally speaking. Half-tone angling is often given in two different ways: – within 90° for rulings with two axes of symmetry (e. one should take into consideration a few points that are typical for this kind of printing.9 Avoidance of moiré effects In repro techniques. and minimal film thickness. However. Important: Direct stencils should use yellow dyed fabrics to avoid light scatter during exposure. or direct stencils with film and water (capillary film). suitable angling controls the moiré effect produced between the raster lines of the individual component colours. it is essential that they have a thin coating (5–10% of fabric thickness) and low Rz value (less than the coating above the fabric in µm).8. (See chapter 5. However. chequerboard and dot rulings) – within 180° for rulings with one axis of symmetry (e.g. Direct stencils with photo emulsion are also used for long press runs. The preferred stencils for half-tone printing are therefore indirect stencils. There should also be no shifts in tone values.4) 8. the stencil emulsion should be as thin as possible. one can use any kind of stencil for half-tone printing. For correct reproduction of the complete range of tone values. To maintain a perfect tonal range. The difficulty with printing single or multi-coloured half-tones is that both light and dark areas must be neatly printed.
yellow should be on the vertical axis of the image.Example: 0° Yellow 15° Magenta 45° Black 75° Cyan 75° Cyan 0° Yellow 15° Magenta 135° Black Within 90° Within 180° Strong colours like CYAN. MAGENTA and BLACK must always be at an angle of 30° from each other. e. skin tones. 2/1999 Raster printing 8.17 . YELLOW. orange tones Within 90° YELLOW MAGENTA CYAN BLACK 0° 45 ° 75 ° 15 ° Within 180° 0° 135 ° 75 ° 15 ° © Copyright by SEFAR. Angling of 4-colour half-tone rulings Images with a high black content (deep tones) Within 90° YELLOW MAGENTA CYAN BLACK 0° 15 ° 75 ° 45 ° Within 180° 0° 15 ° 75 ° 135 ° Images where YELLOW + MAGENTA predominate. This minimises visible moiré patterns due to the interplay of the raster rulings. In raster printing.g. since a moiré caused by the stencil mesh is barely perceptible. being a weaker colour. can be set at a 15° angle from a darker colour.
Images where YELLOW + CYAN predominate. e.18 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. Angling of 3-colour half-tone rulings Within 90° Dark colour Light colour 45 ° 15 ° 75 ° Within 180° a) 45 ° 105 ° 165 ° b) 135 ° 75 ° 15 ° Angling of 2-colour half-tone rulings Within 90° Dark colour Light colour 45 ° 75 ° Within 180° a) 45 ° 105 ° b) 135 ° 75 ° Angling of single colour half-tone rulings Within 90° 45 ° Within 180° a) 45 ° 8. dark red and light blue. e. six or more colours.g. An additional grey plate should be angled in such a manner that it does not coincide with colours strongly related to grey. green and turquoise tones Within 90° YELLOW MAGENTA CYAN BLACK 0° 15 ° 45 ° 75 ° Within 180° 0° 75 ° 135 ° 15 ° General suggestions: The strongest. the angling should be chosen in such a way that the light colours coincide with their complementary colours. 2/1999 . most dominant colours should be at 45° in the 90° disposition or at 135° in the 180° disposition (45° left). dark blue and light red.g. For five.
Moiré between the film and the fabric In raster printing. are align with the vertical or horizontal axis. © Copyright by SEFAR. since the influence of the fabric is less pronounced than in the case of direct stencils.50 3. whereas multi-colour printing tends to conceal it. This effect is most plainly visible in monochrome prints. there will be hardly any visible moiré effect at half-tone angles of 15°.75 : 1 5. as in the previous examples. By the fineness of the fabric: The finer the fabric in relation to the raster ruling. In the rare event of a moiré still appearing.50 : 1 3.00 1.00 : 1 Raster L/cm 56 dots/cm 37 dots/cm 28 dots/cm : : : : Raster L/cm 1.00 i. Recommended ratio between mesh count and the fineness of the raster ruling: Mesh count/cm 2.e. the fabric number is divided by the ratio. 2. 0. 45° and 75°.00 1. universal angle for the fabric on the raster printing frame lies between 4° and 9°. If these recommendations are followed. By the type of stencil: The moiré effect is less apparent with an indirect stencil. it is advisable to increase or decrease the number of half-tone dots/cm by one or two: either or 3. 2/1999 Raster printing 8.00 Examples: Fabric PET 140-31 yellow: Ratio 2. The moiré effect is most apparent in the 40–60% range.19 .5-2 half-tone dots less. an additional moiré effect can result from unsuitable angling of the raster lines of a particular component colour in relation to the raster fabric.75 5. the less visible is the moiré effect. The moiré can be wholly or partially eliminated in the following ways: 1.5-2 half-tone dots more 0. By the fabric angling: a) An ideal. provided the raster lines of the component colours.
Stretching at a certain angle can be ordered from your stretching service.20 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 7° is sufficient in most cases). has the additional advantage that the cause of striped print appearance can be traced with certainty to the fabric. If a moiré appears. There is little danger of moiré with these types of half-tones. Therefore. 2/1999 . turn the raster left or right until the moiré effect disappears (approx. – For 4-colour prints. – The critical zones for the formation of moiré lie in the direction of the threads and their cross-overs. grained raster.5°) with respect to the image axis. – Dominant or darker colours tend to cause more moiré problems. illuminated from below. It is not for this reason that they are selected. but rather to soften abrupt colour-tone transitions. +7. – The colour separations and the printing inks should follow the same colour scale.g. or a poorly ground squeegee blade.g. to 7. b) It is impossible to feed an automatic printing machine at other than right angles.10 General recommendations – A basic requirement for perfect image reproduction is the quality of the diapositive. b) Half-tones with elliptical dots (bead ruling) can. line raster and circular are only suitable for monochrome printing. 4. e. it is impractical to angle the image on the stencil. Place the stretched raster on the positive. the fabric is angled. parallel to the image axis.5°. – Place the half-tone positive on a glass plate. By the type of half-tone raster a) According to current theory.g. 8. and feed the printing stock at a corresponding diagonal. EUROSCALA. A well-equipped stretching service can provide an evenly straight stretched frame. c) There remains the angling of the whole set of diapositives (e. e. lessen moiré development. 8. which is essential for avoiding moiré.Angling the fabric. stable metal frames of the same dimensions should be used. with opaque half-tone dots right up to the edges. For a line raster. under certain circumstances.
– To keep UV ink smearing under control when overprinting colours.e. – Stretch the fabric tightly along the directions of the threads. it tends to smudge. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. – The squeegee angle should be approx. – In 4-colour printing using UV inks. Set it too steep. the half-tone diapositive should have a tone value range of 5–80%. – Initial half-tone printing trials should be carried out with coarse raster rulings. – The squeegee should be set at an angle of 75°. – Use a dyed fabric for direct stencils. ensure that the additional stencil thickness and the Rz value are no higher than 5 µm. – The doctor blade should not be set too low. – Half-tone images are printed with high-viscosity inks. – UV inks tend to smudge. generally somewhat harder than with conventional inks. we recommend the following colour printing sequence: CYAN – MAGENTA – YELLOW – BLACK – For UV inks.21 .– All frames are stretched with the same mesh. – The finest fabrics require relatively high colour pigmentation. – Stretch all 4 frames with the same tension. the squeegee should have 75° shore hardness. but do not dry in the mesh. – The squeegee blade should be of about 70° shore hardness. Recommended raster ruling (L/cm) in relation to fabric number (threads/cm) The following basic parameters must be established before making use of the recommendation: a) Type of printing job b) Type of ink c) Fineness of half-tone ruling © Copyright by SEFAR. the stencil becomes overfilled with ink and the print is smudged. For this reason. The stroke should leave a thin film of ink on the stencil. i. If the squeegee is set at too flat an angle. If the doctor blade is set too low. – A perfectly ground squeegee is crucial to a high quality print. and there is a greater risk of fabric distortion. 75°.
22 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 64.180 90/2 140 .165 Thread diameter 31 and 27 µm T-Shirt printing: Ink type Pigment ink Plastisol ink Half-tone ruling up to 24 L/cm up to 36 L/cm Fabric threads/cm 61 .Graphical work.180 Thread diameter 27. 2/1999 . 34 and (31) µm 8. 70.165 140 .140 34 and (31) µm Ceramic transfers: Ink type Solvent-based inks Half-tone ruling up to 48 L/cm Fabric threads/cm 120 .77 Thread diameter 80. 55 and 48µm 40 µm 48. CDs: Ink type Solvent-based inks UV inks Water-based inks Half-tone ruling up to 48 L/cm up to 60 L/cm up to 15 L/cm up to 48 L/cm Fabric threads/cm 120 .140 Thread diameter 64. 55 and 48 µm up to 36 L/cm 120 . 31 and 34 µm 34 µm 27 and 31 µm Direct printing onto ceramics: Ink type Water-based inks Floor tiles Solvent/water based inks Wall tiles Half-tone ruling up to 24 L/cm Fabric threads/cm 40 . 40.77 90 90 . 31 and 34 µm 27.
Practical experience shows that repro specialists must adopt a very different approach to UCR. customisable colour scanners facilitate colour separations based either on traditional chromatic techniques. and increased UCR (under-colour removal). while avoiding colour interference effects in areas of dark red or green tones.23 . Production Manager in a repro house Helmut Acker writes about achromatic reproduction from the repro house’s point of view. There are wide differences of professional opinion about the production of achromatic separations. and all composite colours obtained from two process colours plus black. Some authorities maintain that greyscales should be achieved using black alone. A technical discussion of achromatic films must distinguish between achromatic in a narrower sense. For technical illustrations of objects like radios. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. and rulings. Modern.8. dot shapes and raster angles are either built-in. while improving or even matching the brilliance of deep colours – a result much sought-after by offset printers. Regardless of the printing process used. UCR together with a corresponding combination of full black is very successful in reducing coverage from at least 280% to approx. now tend to originate on scanning equipment.11 Improved printing stability through achromatic reproduction Helmut Acker. © Copyright by SEFAR. where the various hues are produced by rastering. multi-colour reproductions. achromatic films can be produced which are just as reliable and accurate as traditional three-colour separations. This gives a more brilliant result. 200%. or newer achromatic methods. cameras. This offers the prospect of saving on expensive process colours. Specialised raster types. televisions. binoculars and the like. or are available from dealers as plug-ins. Given the right software.
magenta. yellow. illustrations of predominantly full-coloured.On the other hand. to counter the risk of being unable to use black to compensate for strong colour removal. while green to olive contains no red. 2/1999 . The image generally gains in brilliance. we generally assemble the separation from cyan. for example.24 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. As a result. and we notice time and time again: achromatic is more colourful! 8. We also remove any trace of impure composite colour and replace it with black. dark subjects should be given only minimal UCR. This brings great advantages during the print run. 100% 50% 0% C M Y K 40% C 50% M 60% Y 30% K 180% Process colour buildup with under-colour reduction In our experience of making software-generated achromatic separations. brown tones no longer contain cyan. This results in colour separations with much reduced colour saturation and an unusually rich black. and a skeletal black mainly for enhancing the dark tones. This is mainly a problem in gravure and offset printing. The missing colour is always replaced by black.
while technically possible. in order to retain a harmonious effect. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. This technique is known as achromatic buildup with process addition. We therefore recommend not completely removing the third process colour in impure colours. 100% 50% 0% C M Y K 25% C 35% M 45% Y 45% K 150% Achromatic buildup with process addition © Copyright by SEFAR.25 .100% 50% 0% C M Y K 0% C 10% M 20% Y 70% K 100% Achromatic buildup Experience shows that. We know that a grey made up of process colours is more pleasant visually than a half-tone black. it is inadvisable to carry removal of the third process colour to extremes.
This inevitably leads to higher film production costs. and a fine-tuned printing process deposits successive individual ink doses on the fabric fibres. This technique is suitable to producing attractive. A combination of specialised litho work. 8. must be given due attention by the repro specialist making the colour separations.It is fair to ask the reason for discussing achromatic buildup in a raster printing context. The same can be said of gravure. proof prints remain essential. Given that on-raster assessment of the colour separation is not yet perfect. Reduced ink usage brings its own set of advantages. Complete removal the third process colour can make certain tones appear harsh. and the smallest differences of register can cause white flashes on some print run specimens. since black is the only detail-printing colour. 8. in particular the degree of colour removal. the absence of certain dots in the colour rosettes may even lead to moirés. A precision-calculated raster doses the individual colour elements. Four stencils suffice to print a design with a virtually unlimited range of colour nuances. with minimal environmental impact. precision stencil production. The missing process colour in the final result accelerates drying considerably. Extreme use of achromatic technique exacts a price in side-effects and artefacts which have to be taken into consideration. The reduction in the amount of ink overprinting virtually eliminates velvet effects. where they subsequently blend together. Register problems are much less visible. All these aspects. where offset films are used. 2/1999 .12 Heuristic rastering for textile printing Heuristic rastering is a digital colouration and design system in which the desired colour nuances are produced by mixing textile printing inks on the fibres themselves. Initial results with raster printing indicate that this process stands to gain most of all from achromatic techniques.26 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. It is an established fact that achromatic films offer particular economic and qualitative advantages to offset printers working with four-colour and web offset machines. multi-coloured designs at low cost.
2/1999 Raster printing 8. Even now. using transparent foils with a grained surface to achieve the half-tone structure.History of half-tone textile printing There was a time when the printer. which uses a kind of corn raster. It was no longer considered acceptable for the printing machine to limit the maximum number of colours on a printed fabric. The requirements were primarily aesthetic. were artisans if not indeed artists. One well-known example is the ”DIRACOP” process. Incentives for developing heuristic rastering The driving forces behind the development of heuristic techniques are: – ability to realise attractive designs – improved economic factors – reduced environmental impact Heuristic half-tone printing can emulate the appearance of the following techniques: – half-tone – gradation – overlay – multi-colour half-tone print – combinations of the above techniques © Copyright by SEFAR. There have been repeated attempts at introducing standardised 4colour half-tone techniques to the textile printing industry. Various half-tone techniques were developed. as well as the colourist. including half-tone rasters.27 . The corn raster is produced photographically using a magenta contact raster. Times change. and technical resources were limited. suitable colour separations are prepared by hand.
and the results are unsatisfactory. to aid understanding: – traditional raster printing – standardised 4-colour half-tone printing – heuristic multi-colour half-tone printing Traditional raster printing In traditional textile printing. Ink-paste is pre-mixed to the right colour and pressed through the stencil onto the appropriate places on the textile. 8. One must be prepared to compromise in matters of colour rendition. 2/1999 . and is a factor in determining the amount of ink-paste to apply. with due attention to colour overlays and underlays. Amalgamation of the basic colours is usually unavoidable. yellow and black. over-saturated designs. The maximum number of colours allowed in a design is governed by the size of the printing machine. Areas of the stencil are either permeable or impermeable to ink. needs much experience. EUROSCALA). and involves a large number of tests and proof prints.28 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. A restricted colour space and colour elements produces dull. These areas may also be occupied in whole or part by various half-tone rasters. Recreating an original design using textile dyes is very difficult. magenta. The colour parameters used in separation originate from a standard colour scale (e.g. the design is separated into its individual colours. A separation film is used to make a stencil for each colour.The basic principles of heuristic rastering can also be found in: – offset printing – ink-jet printing – raster printing Principles of various printing techniques The basic principles of the following printing techniques are summarised here. Standardised 4-colour half-tone printing This technique is similar to graphic raster printing in that the design is separated into primary colours: cyan. The colour separations are used as for graphic raster printing. The choice of stencil fabric depends on the textile material to be printed.
The heuristically calculated dots are recorded on film (half-tone separation) The films are used to make printing forms. Ink build-up is responsible for generating a visually perceptible printed colour depth that is related to the ink-paste concentration. the expected viewing distance. The way in which the inks build up is affected by the following factors: – the substrate – pre-treatment – ink-paste composition – ink-paste volume – fixing With heuristic half-tone printing.29 . The tone value behaviour on the textile substrate describes the colour combination (visual colour depth) as a function of percentage coverage (half-tone dot size). correctly located. Correctly sized dots. This should take account of the characteristics of the textile stock to be printed. The half-tone value describes the proportional size of a dot relative to 100% (maximum) coverage. Let us examine the build-up characteristics of inks used in traditional textile printing.Heuristic multi-colour half-tone printing (Ciba Specialty Chemicals) In this technique. 2/1999 Raster printing 8. on a suitable textile substrate and with the correct inks and concentrations. The chosen raster ruling defines the number of lines/cm. the first step is to digitise the design. which reintegrate the individual component dots to reproduce the original design. and deserves a corresponding amount of attention. The dots are calculated from tone value scales specific to a given substrate and set of printing conditions. © Copyright by SEFAR. combine to reproduce the form and colour of the original design. It is also a characteristic of the ink. at a calculated angle. and the desired visual effects. as well as the resolution of the final print. The dot size controls the brightness (ink quantity) for every single colour component. the tone value behaviour of various raster values is similarly analysed under given production circumstances. The tone value characteristic is fundamental to heuristic half-tone printing.
taking all contributory factors into account (type. This gives the fully-saturated colour at 100% solid area. technical printing data. raster. In heuristic multi-colour half-tone printing. Yellow Yellow Orange Black Black Magenta Cyan Cyan Violet Magenta Example of multi-colour half-tone printing Colour values are first defined.Unlike traditional printing. Separations are then made. etc. give accurate colour rendition of the original design on a given textile substrate. for example. then described in terms of corresponding raster ruling. To reproduce a brilliant blue. based on the textile inks specifically chosen for the job. printing sequence. while a 1% tone value gives the smallest possible addition to the overall colour mix. there are designs with a colour space that requires just 3 inks. angle.30 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. determines the achievable colour space. 2/1999 . The basis is the calculated tone value / raster ruling. The resulting stencils. The raster films are adjusted to the entire gravure technique (specially selected raster printing fabric). the heuristic method varies the ink-paste concentration. The tone value characteristic. stencil fabric. coupled with a suitable choice of inks. It is the same in the orange area.). 8. the colour space is not bound to a fixed number of inks. used in correct sequence with the defined ink colours and concentrations. requires an extra blue ink. Production factors are recorded during process analysis. colour influences and characteristics of the lithographic material. where an orange ink is necessary. and required degree of reproducibility is achieved through optimisation and standardisation of the individual steps in the process. Taken to the other extreme. The original design may contain colours that lie outside the space that is printable using 4 colours.
defined half-tone values. Retooling times for printing a new design are shorter. the number of personnel operating the printing machine can also be reduced. Cost/economic factors Using this technique. © Copyright by SEFAR. This has a strong influence on the overall printing cost.31 . Environmental considerations The problem of processing and recyling old ink does not arise with this technique. which are produced in large quantities with associated economies of scale. correctly applied. Where the same ink-pastes are used for all designs. since there are fewer stencils to change and the printing inks are the same for all designs. Textile printers can achieve soft colour gradations. Experience has shown that heuristic half-tone technique. meaning that they do not have to be changed.13 Objectives of heuristic half-tone printing – more attactive designs – cost/economic factors – environmental considerations More attractive designs The Ciba multi-colour technique with 100 brightness levels allows a theoretical palette of 4 million reproducible colours. Given that production printing never requires more than a few stencils. Whatever is not consumed one day can be used the next.8. calculated overlays and 3-D effects. even multi-coloured designs require only a minimum number of stencils. Heuristic half-tone printing also reduces the workload in the ink mixing shop. left-over ink is no longer an issue. Checks and controls are needed only for the basic colours. These can be printed using 4 stencils. eliminates the need for corrections and modifications. It is no longer necessary to calculate ink quantities and mix their individual components. The number of expensive proof prints is minimised. 2/1999 Raster printing 8.
A heuristic raster based on incorrect data is unusable.32 Raster printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 400). 8. instead they can be used straight away for the next one. Eliminating this step reduces the demands on the wastewater system. Where half-tone dots overlap. This in turn represents an approximate 60% reduction in liquid effluent from chemicals in the ink-paste (urea. etc.). 8. squeegee systems and ink cisterns no longer need to be rinsed down during every design change. Lighter shades are achieved through a lower ink-paste deposit. the ink-paste deposit depends not on coverage. 2/1999 . Successful results depend on the quality of cooperation. It is absolutely essential that the inks specified in the half-tone calculation are also deployed in production.Installations like ink scoops. In half-tone printing.14 Technical considerations This technique requires cooperation between the end user and Ciba. The half-toning mechanism (mixing ink-pastes on the fibres themselves) necessitates transparent pigments. one can expect reproducibility problems within a production batch. alginate. the estimated average colour intensity is around 40%. delivery pipework. If non-transparent pigments are used. From the heuristic designs produced to date (approx. additives. rinsing-down wastes approximately 10 kg of ink per stencil. a non-transparent pigment will obscure the previous ink layer. but the average colour density of the design. With traditional methods.
i. speed and angle – snap-off distance (distance between the stencil and the substrate to be printed) – lift-off adjustment – positional accuracy of the print substrate (register stops. print bed stability) In view of the interplay between all the above factors. to limit the selection of screen frames to a few standard sizes. etc. restrict the variety of designs attempted. © Copyright by SEFAR. never attempt to change two or more settings simultaneously. light. squeegee action. pressure. Printing The following are recommendations for screen printing by hand and on flat bed machines. – When proofing. where practical. it is advisable.9..e. – type of screen fabric. The most important are: – design and construction of the printing machine: heavy. Various factors influence the results of the printing process. 2/1999 Printing 9.e.e. the two most important being: – Limit the initial job diversity. accuracy of the ground edge. certain basic rules should be observed.1 . blade hardness. To gain practical printing experience in a systematic manner. type of register adjustment. especially the quality of printing form / screen tension – squeegee set-up. i. alter only one factor at a time – i. or precision construction – stability of the printing bed.
9.2 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR. e. If a stencil is not placed perfectly flat in the machine. This results in an uneven.5 mm. and also to allow the tightly stretched screen to rise clear of the print immediately after the squeegee has passed.1 Setting up of a flat bed machine For clean prints with accurate register. The ”snap-off” distance is necessary to prevent the screen from touching and possibly smearing the substrate before printing. 9. The snap is usually slightly greater for hand printing than on machines with mechanical squeegee action. The snap should be as small as possible. correct setting of the snap and lift-off distances is important. a b c d a) b) c) d) screen substrate printing table snap-off ”Snap-off” is the distance between the screen and the substrate immediately before printing. 2/1999 .g. distorted image. when the frame is in the lowered position.3 mm. SEFAR measuring wedge With flat bed printing machines. 3 . squeegee pressure is unbalanced because the blade presses down harder on the raised part of the stencil. – – for a DIN A3 screen for a DIN A0 screen 1 . an even snap-off distance is very important for exact register and a perfect print image.
The optimum snap distance depends on the dimensions of the frame and the printed image.The SEFAR measuring wedge provides a simple means to verify uniform snap distance. Simply slide the wedge under all four edges of the stencil frame and the machine bed in turn. 2/1999 Printing 9. many printing machines incorporate an automatic lift-off mechanism. © Copyright by SEFAR. and the desired printing job.3 . which raises the screen progressively higher as the squeegee moves forward. the slightest shift of substrate or screen would smudge the wet ink. the tension of the fabric. the snap-off and the lift-off all help to raise the screen fabric from the printing immediately after the squeegee passage. The snap-off angle behind the squeegee remains constant from start to finish of each print stroke. and read off the snap distance in mm. e a b c d a) b) c) d) e) screen substrate printing table lift-off printing stroke The quality of stretch. Snap measuring wedge In order to improve clearance between the screen and the substrate. If the screen were to remain in contact with the freshly printed substrate. on the ink composition.
and overlong exposure to solvents causes the squeegee to swell. but a greater tendency to accumulate electrostatic charge during printing. 9. 2/1999 . Ulon. the squeegee pressure must also be increased a little. Squeegees should therefore be cleaned and dried immediately after printing. Both materials harden with age. the generally recommended region being 60° – 75° shore hardness. or of polyurethane (Vulkollan. as these tend to give streaky prints. etc. Those of natural or synthetic rubber wear out faster. Reducing the printing speed also helps to reduce the adverse ”drag” effect of the screen on the freshly printed substrate. Excessive snap and lift-off are detrimental to accurate register.). Hardness Squeegee hardness is expressed in degrees shore.4 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 9.All three factors are adjustable: – fabric tension (see the section on stretching) – snap-off distance – lift-off motion If any of these is increased. Polyurethane squeegees have better abrasion resistance. but. they are much less prone to accumulating electrostatic charge.2 The squeegee Material Squeegees for screen printing are made of natural or synthetic rubber (Neoprene). leaving the blade wavy and unusable. clean edges are essential to good quality printing. on the other hand. On cylinder printing machines. no lift-off is necessary as rotation of the cylinder bed gives the same effect. Squeegees should be frequently re-ground: sharp. The edges and sides of the squeegee should be free of blemishes like pock-marks and scratches. Harder squeegees (70° – 75° shore) are suitable for large formats and half-tone printing.
instead of being swept over the mesh. The squeegee angle becomes too shallow. 2/1999 Printing 9. can cause the squeegee to flex backwards. This also tends to reduce the stencil life. combined with high pressure. is pressed onto an elongated section of the printing substrate. Dimensions e a) Squeegee hardness b) Squeegee thickness c) Squeegee (free) height d) Squeegee angle e) Squeegee pressure f) Squeegee speed mm c 10-20 f g) Squeegee grinding (profile / surface) a d b g Squeegee profile 3cm 15cm image area 3cm 15cm Squeegee front view The dimensions of the printing frame should be such as to leave a clearance of at least 12 cm between the inside edge of the frame and each end of the squeegee. Excessive squeegee hardness can cause difficulty in maintaining register. Insufficient clearance can result in visible distortion. due to the high frictional drag with subsequent distortion of the screen fabric. Ink then runs under the stencil.Softer squeegees (60° – 65° shore) are preferable for solid overall patterns and substrates with an uneven surface.5 . Excessive softness. © Copyright by SEFAR. so that ink.
A blunted or intentionally rounded squeegee edge fails to skim the ink off the screen in a precisely metered fashion. Squeegee streaks are cured by carefully rubbing the cleanly-ground squeegee edge with a polishing cloth. Belts may be fitted over single or multiple rollers. A sharp-edged squeegee will precisely meter the amount of ink passing through the screen. however. 9. at an angle to the frame) so that the threads run at an angle to the frame and the printing stroke. The blade should be ground parallel to the length. it forces an excessive amount through to the substrate. ink application at such high levels may be desirable to give good coverage.Squeegee grinding The condition of the edge of squeegee blade is important to the production of sharp.e. It is often extremely difficult to determine whether the squeegee or the fabric is causing streaky prints. Emery belts are used for squeegee grinding. Round-off the squeegee ends. This is an important factor in the production of fine detailed work and half-tones. smudging details. this effect can sometimes also be caused by irregularly woven screen fabric.6 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR. The only certain way is to stretch the screen fabric on the bias (i. clear prints. as shown in the diagrams below. However. A badly ground squeegee blade will produce streaky prints. The squeegee grinding machine must have a firm clamping device for the squeegee. 2/1999 . so as to allow accurate re-grinding. Avoid overheating the squeegee during the grinding process. Instead. especially in solid areas.
80 – 180 grit.Types of squeegee grinding machine The emery belts should be of. 2/1999 Printing 9. depending on the squeegee rubber material and the printing application. Squeegee sections Squeegee sections Squeegee grinding profiles © Copyright by SEFAR.7 .
9.8 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 .Special squeegee grinding for screen printing on circuit-board tracks of 70 µm or more 5° – 30° angle-grind at the squeegee edge. 10 25-30 75° min. Proof prints are essential. Large deviations from this angle can adversely affect ink metering and accuracy of register. 1. The viscosity of the ink paste has a considerable effect on the result.5mm 5-30° Special angle-grinding at the squeegee edge Squeegee angle a 75° b c d Squeegee angle: a) printing stroke b) steep c) normal d) low The optimum squeegee printing angle is 75° from the screen.
2/1999 Printing 9. Squeegee pressure must not be altered during the print run. while dragging and stretching the fabric. Pressure adjustment can be made as follows: – Adjust the squeegee so that it is clear of the screen while in the normal printing position.9 . the centre of the print stroke.Steep angle: In this position. as this can cause colour and register changes. profiles with a suitable radius and corresponding hardness are used. – Make final adjustments to the squeegee setting during the first trial pulls on waste material. and parallel to it. squeegee pressure should be identical for all screens. Low angle: The squeegee blade flexes too far backwards. Depending on the ink absorbency of the printing substrate. Therefore. which causes loss of register. since the squeegee drags the screen fabric in the direction of the stroke. making it soft and subsequently useless. leading to register problems. The blade’s increased cutting action reduces the ink deposit. pressure should be kept to the minimum necessary for good print results. Notes for textile printing: Rounded squeegee profiles are most commonly used. i. Prolonged exposure to solvents impregnates the blade. the flexibility of the squeegee blade is impaired.e. – Adjust both set screws to bring the squeegee into contact with the printing substrate. – Place the squeegee in the centre of the image area. Squeegee pressure As already stated. Ink tends to run under the stencil. The squeegee should be cleaned immediately after printing. excessive pressure adversely affects the accuracy of register. – Lower the squeegee until it is just clear of the screen. Raising the pressure lengthens the printed image. © Copyright by SEFAR. pressing more ink through the stencil mesh. increasing friction with the screen fabric. In multi-colour printing.
10 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR.3 Flood bar (Doctor blade) The flood bar or scraper squeegee is attached parallel to the print squeegee. 2/1999 .RKS squeegee system Squeegee profiles Advantages of the RKS system are: – quick fitting and removal – constant blade angle – easy control of squeegee pressure – low wear RKS squeegees can also be fitted to conventional squeegee holders. 9. especially with large formats. which prevents the ink from drying. but with a lighter pressure. with no sharp corners or edges. Camber grinding of the flood bar gives a uniform ink lay on the screen. etc. splinters. It spreads a thin film of ink on the screen. 9. It is important that the flood bar or scraper edge is not damaged in any way.
2/1999 Printing 9. (See also other chapters of this handbook. but any of the above will necessitate a reduction in print speed. type of squeegee. etc. the mesh openings are not completely loaded with ink. The foregoing are not the only relevant factors affecting print quality. etc. This results in poor prints. When the printing speed is too high in comparison to the other conditions. as per example: – high ink viscosity – thick stencil coatings – stencil fabric with fine mesh openings – steep squeegee angle to prevent smearing of fine detail – large areas requiring good ink coverage. If printing results are unsatisfactory (smearing. Printing speed should always be set in conjunction with other determining factors. ink viscosity. The prime condition for success is a well made screen equal to the requirements of the printing task. Changing speed during the print run will result in a corresponding change in the print quality.) © Copyright by SEFAR.11 . altered. one or more of the preceding factors are generally responsible. such as printing speed. if necessary.4 Printing speed The ink flow or metering effect through the screen depends on several factors.9. Bear in mind that in endeavouring to rectify any misprint. poor register. only one factor at a time should be checked and.).
jars. a b c a) stationary squeegee b) movement of screen c) direction of rotation Schematic concept for printing round objects: Printing shaped objects needs a more flexible screen to make full contact with the curved surfaces. Direct stencils are most frequently used for printing shaped objects. and angled at approx. instruments. cheaper and more reliable.12 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR. 75° to the stencil surface.9. crockery. Rectangular squeegee profiles are generally chosen for UV inks. Polyamide fabrics (PA) have the ideal elasticity to allow a perfect fit to various shaped objects and surfaces. Recommendations laid down by the manufacturer of the printing machine should be duly noted. glassware. 2/1999 . boxes. machine parts. often referred to as ”V” cut or ”double cut” squeegees.5 Object printing This section deals with the printing of shaped objects such as bottles. Mounting new fabric is often faster. since indirect stencil films are not elastic enough to follow the fabric as it adapts to the shape of the substrate. etc. It is usually uneconomic to reclaim screens used on long print runs with difficult or abrasive printing substrates. tools. 9. Squeegees for printing round objects are normally cut with an equal bevel. sporting goods.
which corresponds to a thickness of 28 µm. © Copyright by SEFAR.7 Ink deposit The theoretical ink volume of the fabric is an indication of the wet ink deposit. During the drying process. This is only possible when the respective colours are separated by 10 mm or more. secured and sealed with two-component glue. 9. plastic.13 . printed with PET 1000 77-48 results in a wet ink deposit of 28 cm3/m2.6 Single operation multiple colour printing Partitioning the squeegee and the stencil allows two colours to be printed in the same pass. 2/1999 Printing 9. Example: An ink or paste with 60% solid content. as well as being used to calculate ink consumption. or a thin wooden batten). the 40% solvent content evaporates. Split stencil for two-colour printing The stencil is partitioned by inserting a divider (cardboard.9. The remaining dry ink deposit is only 17 µm.
2/1999 . In 4-colour half-tone printing.Theoretical ink volume in cm3 per m2 100.5 Fabric number Refer to the technical information in the fabric datasheets. 9.0 30-120 100-40 120-34 150-31 180-27 40-80 51-70 61-64 77-48 57. care should be taken that the stencil thickness on the mesh does not exceed 3–5 µm. 9.0 40.3 10.3 40.2 30.0 21.0 0. For extreme ink deposit reduction (UV varnish) we recommend a one side calendered fabric such as SEFAR® PET 1000 OSC.14 Printing © Copyright by SEFAR.4 80.8 UV inks UV inks have a very high solid content. Extra thin and fine fabrics (120-31 – 180-27) are necessary to reduce ink consumption and ink deposit.5 28.0 84.0 60.1 16. approaching 100%.0 20.9 6.
. a = printing direction b = squeegee c = printing frame d = substrate Special technique for industrial textile printing c b a e f d The squeegee is a circular steel rod.. . and flat objects. cardboard.. . . textiles. The stencil is in contact with the substrate. d g Printing c b a © Copyright by SEFAR. e.. Ink quantity is controlled by the squeegee diameter and the magnetic force exerted from below the printing machine bed. plastic or ceramic tiles. 2/1999 9. plastic foils. paper.9 Printing systems Flat bed printing Flat bed screen printing is used for printing both flexible and rigid stock.9. a = printing direction b = squeegee c = printing frame d = magnet e = magnet carriage f = rubber mat g = substrate . wooden.g.15 .
. plastic foils.Cylinder bed printing Cylinder bed machines are suitable only for flexible print stock like paper. jars. e a = printing direction b = squeegee c = printing frame d = back pressure cylinder e = substrate Printing on cylindrical objects These machines use the substrate itself as the back pressure cylinder.16 . bottles. e. etc.. tubes. . 2/1999 . . 9. . a a = substrate Printing . c b ... etc.. © .. . a d Copyright by SEFAR.g..
Rotary printing (single substrates) Example: Ceramic tile printing Rotary printing (reel to reel) Printing occurs continuously. textiles. 2/1999 Printing 9.17 . ceramic tiles. etc. b c a d a = print direction b = squeegee c = cylindrical stencil d = substrate (on reels or conveyor belt) © Copyright by SEFAR.). either from a feed to a take-up reel. foils. or on a flat substrate fed by conveyor belt under the rotating cylinder (paper.
These in turn demand reproducible data and tolerances. © Copyright by SEFAR. and the wet thickness of the ink deposit on the printing substrate.1 Coating thickness This instrument measures the stencil coating thickness on the mesh. 2/1999 Measuring instruments 10.10.1 . which can only be gathered using suitable measuring instruments. Measuring instruments Consistently high printing quality can only be achieved and maintained through the use of internal standards. The thickness on the mesh determines edge sharpness. 10. resolution.
The Rz value (DIN nomenclature for average roughness) for screen printing stencils should always be less than the measured coating thickness.10.5° to the fabric threads. A perfectly flat surface would show a value of 0. A relatively smooth stencil surface is essential to printing sharp edges and avoiding saw-tooth effects. The measured average in µm appears on the instrument’s digital display. The measuring probe is simply laid on the surface to be measured at an angle of 22. 2/1999 .2 Roughness This instrument is used to check the stencil surface. During the measuring sequence.2 Measuring instruments © Copyright by SEFAR. Poor: Rz > coating thickness 12µ coating thickness 20µ roughness (Rz) Good: Rz < coating thickness 12µ coating thickness 8µ roughness (Rz) 10. the probe moves a few millimetres in order to take a predetermined number of measurement samples at the highest and lowest points on the surface.
3 .4 Hardness meter (Shore measuring instrument) This instrument is used to check the hardness of the squeegee rubber. A radiometer provides the simplest means for measuring lamp efficiency. The source should radiate predominantly in the UV range between 350 – 420 nm. © Copyright by SEFAR. The rubber is affected by various solvents and is also subject to a natural ageing process that causes the hardness to change over time.10. Every colour pass in a printing batch should use the same squeegee size and hardness. Different squeegees lead to register problems and colour shifts. 10.3 Radiometer (incident radiant energy measurement) Stencils cure and harden best when exposed to a good light source. Lamps have a limited life. requiring exposure compensation. and the radiant energy falls off as the lamp ages. 2/1999 Measuring instruments 10.
amount of ink passing through the stencil. or adjust the viscosity to a predetermined value.6 Wet coat thickness Certain screen printing applications require carefully controlled and reproducible coating thickness.4 Measuring instruments © Copyright by SEFAR. etc. edge sharpness. Printing medium viscosity is usually measured in Pascal or Poises. The instrument is rolled carefully over the freshly printed surface. The coat thickness in µm is then read off the scale at the point where the ink deposit ceases. the viscosity of the printing medium must be as constant as possible. For consistently reproducible printing results. 2/1999 . 10. A viscosimeter is used either to measure printing medium viscosity. lacquer.5 Viscosimeter The viscosity of the printing medium (ink. etc. The solution is this simple device for measuring the thickness of the wet ink deposit.10.) has a strong influence on the attainable printing speed. 10. wet film thickness. paste.
7 Grindometer for measuring particle size The particle size of the printing medium must be at least 3x less than the mesh opening of the screen printing fabric. or help pinpoint their cause.8 Recording thermometer/hygrometer Printing media.5 .10. The particle size in µm is read off the scale at the point where the smear ends. Monitoring air quality in the printing room can avoid many problems. A test sample is simply smeared over the grindometer. © Copyright by SEFAR. 2/1999 Measuring instruments 10. 10. printing stock and printing frames are all strongly affected by temperature and atmospheric humidity.
11.1 . sector Polyester fabric PET 1000 Polyester fabric PET 1000 Nylon fabric PA 1000** Conventional inks from to Conventional inks UV inks *** from to from to Graphical printing Line artwork 90-40* Lacquer overprinting 90-40 Half-tone screens up to 28 L/cm 120-34* 120-31* Half-tone screens from 150-34* 28 L/cm to 54 L/cm 140-31* 150-27* Printed circuit boards Overlay solder mask 12-140 Photosensitive solder mask 24-120 SMT solder paste 32-70 2-component solder mask: Conductor thickness 35 µ 68-55* 70 µ 43-80* UV solder mask Carbon conductive lacquer 36-90 Etch resist 90-48* Plating resist 90-48* Marking print 120-34* Membrane keyboards Insulation lacquer 36-100 Silver conductive paste 48-70* Adhesive 48-70 UV structural lacquer Decor foil 90-48* Transparent windows 120-34 120-34* 140-34* 120-34 140-34 150-34* 140-34* 150-31* 150-34* 165-31* 165-31* 165-27* 18-250 68-55 165-31* 180-31 180-27* 150-31* 180-27* 77-48* 55-64* 68-55* 77-48* 68-55 120-34* 120-34* 140-34* 120-34* 120-34* 140-31* 140-34* 150-31* 68-55 68-55* 77-48 77-48 120-34* 165-31 *) for fine lines and half-tone rulings: **) for large print runs: ***) for minimal ink deposit: dyed fabric PA 2000 (range is being expanded) calendered fabric PET 1000 OSC Continued © Copyright by SEFAR. Recommended choice of fabrics Application. 2/1999 Recommended choice of fabrics 11.
heavy curtain material) Smooth. areas/lines Plastisol transfer Universal fabric Plastisol direct Pigment inks. T-shirts Glitter Flock adhesive Puff-up colours Overprint Pigment ink printing. medium to fine In and under-glaze (direct printing) Superimposed / decals:: Areas/lines Fine lines / half-tone Gold and lustre inks 10-260 18-180 21-140 32-100 40-80 48-80 48-55 54-64* 61-64* 77-48* 18-180 43-80 54-64 77-48 24-120 48-70 48-70 40-80 68-64 120-34* 120-34* 100-40* 120-34* 48-70 54-64 77-48 120-34 5-450 12-140 21-140 43-80 21-140 32-100 61-64 100-40* 10-350 24-160 24-160 43-90 61-60 100-38* 77-48* 150-31* 100-40* 165-27* 120-34* 165-31* 77-50* 150-30* 100-35* 165-30* 120-35* 180-30* *) for fine lines and half-tone rulings: **) for large print runs: ***) for minimal ink deposit: dyed fabric PA 2000 (range is being expanded) calendered fabric PET 1000 OSC Continued 11. half-tone Sublimation transfer Textiles. porous material (especially detailed effects) Ceramics Glaze printing. denim) Smooth.Continued Application. 2/1999 . coarse. light curtain material) Light. flat films Heavy décor fabrics (terry cloth. dense fabrics (table cloths. sector Polyester fabric PET 1000 Polyester fabric PET 1000 Nylon fabric PA 1000** Conventional inks from to Conventional inks UV inks *** from to from to Designs. light fabrics (scarves. embossed effect Covercoat Glaze printing.2 Recommended choice of fabrics © Copyright by SEFAR.
bottles Ampoules Beverages: Bottles. 2/1999 Recommended choice of fabrics 11. sector Polyester fabric PET 1000 Polyester fabric PET 1000 Nylon fabric PA 1000** Conventional inks from to Conventional inks UV inks *** from to from to Glass Automotive glass: Black surrounds for windscreens. restaurant and shop signs Objects (plastics.) Opaque areas Half-tone and fine lines •) UV inks: PW = 1:1 only 54-64* 77-48* 77-48* 100-40* 77-48* 100-40* 100-40* 120-34* 30-120 77-48* 77-48* 120-34* 77-50* 120-35* 120-35* 150-30* 77-50* 120-35* 120-35* 140-30* 54-60 120-35* 43-80 77-48* 54-64 77-48* 54-64 68-55 100-40* 100-40* 120-34* 100-40* 43-80 77-48* 100-40* 120-34* 140-34* 150-31* 100-38* 150-35*• 120-34* 165-27* 150-31* 180-27* 120-35* 180-30*• © Copyright by SEFAR.Continued Application. windows. shower-cabins. mirrors Cosmetic bottles: Inks Precious metals Pharmaceuticals: Laboratory glassware. table tops. furniture Amusement machines: Front and side panels Souvenirs: Herald pictures Advertising: Hotel. glasses Household durables: Fascias for washing machines and ovens (Masks) (Lines and half-tones) Lampshades. doors.3 . rear and side windows Antennas Silver paste (heated windows) Sun-roofs Constructional glass: Curtain windows. etc.
sp.ch http: // www.– . Box CH-9425 Thal SG Switzerland Tel.sefar.O.sefar.Sefar Inc.ch Order n° 901 CHF 30. Printing Division P. ++41 71 886 32 32 Fax ++41 71 886 35 91 E-mail sales@sp.
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