To complete a perfect printing of every task it is important to learn to clean screen-printing screens. Any screen printer needs cleaning properly to allow you to begin the next task with no hassle. A printing screen using water-based ink when left uncleaned results in clogged dried up ink in the screen. Removing this usually ends up damaging the screen and bad-quality prints.
How to Clean Screen-Printing Screens
The procedure we have outlined in this article will help you learn the perfect cleaning of the screens of your screen-printer. As you end up each day, you will get quality printouts.
1. Reuse vs Reclaim
The cleaning of the printing screen would depend on the reuse of the screen for future use. In reusing, you can clear off by washing the screen when the paper is still in place. The screen is good enough to use multiple times.
The screen reclaiming process is like a water wheel. It is the continuous removal of the stencil from the screen by emulsion. The operator does not have to wait for the ink to clean off.
Cleaning for Reusing
To allow the screen you do not have to take off the screen sides. To protect yourself from the ink deposits, you need to wear eye protection glass, gloves, and preferably a lab coat.
- First, use a towel to rub off the dried ink that has piled up.
- Spray the cleaning solution and wipe it out thoroughly with a towel.
- Make sure the screen is completely free of the color so there is no contamination if you using a different colored ink.
- Are you able to see across the screen for a new task? You are done.
Cleaning for Reclaiming
- From the sides of the screen take off the plastic or the tape to ensure complete removal of the ink.
- Scrap off the ink deposit from the screen with the use of a squeegee.
- Remove the ink completely before it dries with a squeegee. To avoid chemical use, you can also scrape off the ink with wax paper.
- With the print side up, place the screen on a horizontal leveled surface. Spray screen reclaimer generously on the screen. Let it soak as per the instruction of the manufacturer. Do not leave the reclaimer for a long time, as the chemical in it will damage the screen. You may also soak it in Isopropyl Alcohol with a towel and let its stay for a few minutes.
- Now you need to break the emulsion. With a rough brush, scrub the screen lightly. By using a pressure washer with a psi range of 1500-2000 scrub off the residue. If ink remains, you may have to repeat the washing process. Scrubbing and power washing will eventually give you clean screen.
- After the removal of the ink deposits, spread a degreaser on both sides of the screen. Missing this step will result in in non-sticking of the emulsion in the screen for your next printing task. Scrub and use the power washer to rinse off the degreaser.
- You may now allow the screen to dry naturally. Dry in an aerated space near the window where the humidity is less.
- Coat the dry screen and the frame with emulsion. You now have a reclaimed printing screen.
2. Dip Tank Method
If you have a bunch of printing screens to clean, you might like to use a tank to reclaim. Investing in a tank is worthwhile as it will save your time. The Dip Tank Solution will be easy to operate as it has the instruction manual with it.
- On preparing the solution, place the screens in the tank for 4 -5 minutes.
- Take out the screens and pressure wash them.
- Your screens are ready for extended use.
Pros and Cons of Using Dip Tank Method
Before you go buying the Dip Tank for cleaning the printing screen, it is best to find out if it would suit such a tank for your business. Therefore, we are putting forward the advantages and disadvantages to enable you to make a decision.
i. The Speed of the Dip Tank
Dip Tank is good and appreciated for the speed in cleaning the printing screens. It continuously washes one screen after another. As soon as you wash one for 3-4 minutes followed by pressure washing, the next screen should be in the Dip Tank. Therefore, if there is a volume of screens to be cleaned, it works perfectly.
ii. Easy to remove the stencil
The two-step process is convenient. As you soak the screen in the mixture tank, the stencil becomes soft, which is removable on spraying. The screen wash removes the stains but, haze remove may be necessary to remove the tougher stains.
iii. Less use of chemicals
The Dip Tank is an advantage on the expenses of the chemicals. The complete reclaiming chemicals on dilution with water are reusable in the tanks more than once.
i. Consistency of Quality cleaning
Some Dip Tank users observed that the quality of cleaning is not as good. Perfect cleaning is possible at the start. However, as the solution becomes weak, cleaning later screens may not just be perfect. Therefore, the screens that come out later are as difficult to wash as the first few. Maintaining the strength of the mixture can be a solution.
ii. Contamination of screens
The screen frames also differ in type. Therefore, there could be contamination as it entirely dipped the frame in the tank. The solution and the screen in the frame come into direct contact. The metallic hollow frames and the wooden frames can catch and keep the cleaning chemicals, which can react with the ink when the subsequent screens printing job.
iii. Disposal of waste
The waste with the chemicals and screen printing ink may build up in the tank’s bottom during soak may cause a build-up to a harmful extent. The waste may also not comply with the local laws to dispose of with the normal drainage facilities. This may cause a plumbing problem. Prior measures should exist to allow the safe disposal of waste from cleaning printing screens.
Knowing the various method of cleaning screen-printing screens makes it easy to make your printing job perfect. You may have to balance the volume of work with time and expense to choose the right method. Hope you find the method that is best for you.