Screens For Screen Printing: Can I Build And Stretch them?

When first starting out in screen printing, people often wonder how to go about making the screen. Sometimes purchasing costs can make it look like it is cheaper to build them yourself. But it is important to note that the quality of your screen greatly affects the quality of your print and the ease of which you can print it. Using a tightly stretched screen on a rigid and strong frame has many benefits including saving ink in certain applications.

Roller frames are the best for high tension screens in screen printing. They have the perfect characteristics to give a solid frame and ensure high tensions. This is the best for high resolution printing like four color process. Roller frames are most often used in demanding print applications like on automatic presses. These can be easily stretched by the user with a little learning and experience.

Static metal frames are great for simple spot colors and some duo tone or one color halftone work. They have good rigidity and can hold enough tension for many simple manually printed spot color applications. They wear out over time due mostly to loss of tension. But today these types of frames are readily available at reasonable prices pre-stretched with mesh. Most of the time the profit margin in the job should be able to pay for screens like this unless it is on a very small quantity. But static metal frames need to be stretched with a stretching device. In many cases that is a pneumatic stretcher where adhesives are used to attach the mesh to the frame after the mesh is stretched over the frame using air pressure.

Wood frames are the easiest and cheapest to stretch by hand for beginners but they are also the most unstable and problematic. Two of their biggest problems is the wood absorb liquids and the wood frame cannot hold high mesh tensions. Using wood frames, especially if they are in poor condition, may make screen printing more difficult for beginners. Doing your first four color print with old wood screens just might not be the best idea.

The bottom line is, yes, you can make your own screens for screen printing. However, it may be beneficial to make a small investment into an aluminum metal frame. For simple 1 to 3 color home applications, I think it would be the best choice.

Learn how to screen print with Catspit Productions, LLC!

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