Screen Mesh — Choosing The Right Count
As mentioned on our previous post, screen mesh is obviously one of the most essential things you need in screen printing. But, although choosing the right screen mesh is critical, most printers (both beginners and seasoned, including us) sometimes make mistakes in choosing the right screen mesh count for their respective designs.
Now, what should we really consider in choosing the right mesh count? Does it totally depends on how detailed our design is? Or should we also consider other factors like the kind of ink we’re using?
To somehow help you out, we decided to share in this post our own opinion about choosing the right mesh count based from the experiments we conducted here in our shop. Please take note that screen printers have different opinions about this topic, and we need to respect each other. But, if you have any question or you want to share something helpful, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. :)
It Depends With Your Design
One of the biggest factors the screen printers should consider in choosing what mesh count to use is the artwork itself. Actually, it’s the most important thing to consider, if the the only one.
Most of the time, especially here in the Philippines, screen printers use lower mesh counts for their artworks. What I see as the main reason behind this is because lower mesh counts are significantly cheaper and they are easier to deal with and maintain.
Although these reasons are true, they aren’t enough to simply use low mesh count screens with all of the artworks, especially if using thinner inks like water-based inks.
What Low Mesh Count Can Cause…
Based from experience and experimenting, there are significant problems that screen printers can experience in using low mesh counts which can be minimized, if not totally removed, by simply using higher mesh counts.
- Lays down too much ink Since low mesh count screens have fewer threads, this also means that these screens have bigger openings. And bigger openings means more ink is allowed to pass through onto the substrate — and this is bad. Too much ink deposit will cause issues in the curing process and in the actual hand feel of the print.
- Ink passes through the garment onto the platen This error is more common for beginners. Since they aren’t familiar yet on the right pressure and squeegee angle to be used when stroking, it is almost certain that they will use more of what is needed. When this happens in low mesh count screens, the ink will go through the substrate onto the platen, which results to wasted inks.
- Smudge effect Another common error in using low mesh count screens. When you use too much pressure on flooding, it can cause the ink to pass through the screen already. And since the ink is already outside the screen before you actually stroke it, too much ink will be deposited onto the substrate when you stroke! This causes the ink to scatter onto the garment, which can look like it has been smudged.
How To Choose The Right Mesh Count
If you’re not using special types of inks such as glittered inks, the biggest factor you have to consider is your artwork or design. But, to help you out in deciding what mesh count to try or use, here is what we can recommend based from our own experience and experiments.
156 / 61T
Unless you’re printing very simple text artworks, this is the lowest mesh count you should use when using water-based inks. Using lower mesh counts than this can result to the errors mentioned above.
230 / 90T
This is probably the best mesh count to use in water-based printing. If you’re printing either a white under-base (halftone or solid), using a 230 mesh can yield optimum results. It will produce a higher quality print and a very soft hand feel.
305 / 120T
If you’re printing halftones for either a CMYK or Simulation Process, this mesh count is the best to use. Not only will it produce a much softer feel even after printing all the colors needed, it will also allow you to produce the best quality of image and print. Because of it’s high mesh count, the emulsion will have more threads to stick on to, allowing you to preserve finer details of the artwork.
These are the simple tips we want to share. Please take note that other screen printers will most probably have a different take on this topic. Although people can have different opinions, what’s important to know is that nothing beats experience and experimenting.
If you’re someone who is just starting out, try different things, compared the results, and decide the best that will work for you and your client. As long as you’re client is satisfied, everything is good.
But if you want you’re business to be one of a kind, surpassing the expectation of your clients is an absolute must!
Thank you so much for reading this far. If you have any thoughts or questions, please let us know by leaving a comment below!
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