kalmoony asked:
Hi! I'm currently a screenprinter trainee and I'm getting more and more interested in starting to try and print my own designs at home. So I was wondering, what do you use to expose your screens? How do you deal with chemicals wastes going with the process (solvent,and all that noxious stuff?) Where do you get the rubber for your squeegee? I know there's suppliers but you can make so many things cheaper with some handywork. (I hope I used the right words given I only learned the French ones xD)

kalmoony:

unicornempireprints:

(I’m going to publish this since it may be useful to other people who are interested in the process, if that’s not okay let me know and I’ll take it down.)

First off, good for you! Screen printing can be very challenging, but also incredibly rewarding in a way that is very unique to the process. Let me go ahead and answer your questions as best I can = )

  • Exposure - For this I use a home-made light box, I made it years ago when I first started because purchased lightbox units specifically for screenprinting are in the $1,000+ range, and I made mine for probably $50-$80, with wood and glass. Whatever screen you are planning on using, get a piece of glass that’s a few inches bigger on each side, build a box that’s a little smaller out of around 6” tall pieces of wood, drill holes in one side for the electrical cords and voila, light box! The screens we use are 20”x24”, so my lightbox is around 25”x30”. The distance from the lights to the screen is important, you want the light exposure to be as uniform as possible- so you want the screen to be around 6-8 inches away from the bulbs. For bulbs I use strip lights, flourescent tubes, 6 arranged in a row from one side of the box to the other, for the best and most even light exposure. There are a lot of great but sometimes conflicting tutorials on this subject matter and honestly, I think any light will work, it’s all about finding your exposure time.
  • Talking about exposure time - Find some image online or make your own to use as an exposure sheet. You find your exposure time by putting this transparency on a screen and using a thick, thick paper to cover up most of it, expose for 1 minute, then move it down, expose for 2 minutes, etc. Until you’ve done this around 10 times. Then you wash out the screen and see what came out the best. This is the most frustrating part at times, because there are SO MANY things that can effect your exposure time. The emulsion you use is a huge part of it, but if it rained yesterday it will change a little, if your coating isn’t the same every time, having a thicker or thinner coat of emulsion (Make sure you use a scoop coater, best purchase I ever made!) can make a huge difference. 
  • Wash out - This is another one that took me a while to learn. It’s best to use a hose sprayer on a light soak setting, not jet, for the first bit of washing out. I spray down both sides, count to 20-30 in my head, and continue to wet both sides until I start to see the emulsion coming out. Once I see the emulsion coming out, I start to spray it a little more aggressively, but always be careful to not continue spraying it. The emulsion might be exposed, but it’s not so hard that an aggressive spray of water won’t blast out fine detail work. When you think you’ve got it all, hold it up to the sky so that you can see everything. Examine each corner, every nook and cranny, because you have probably missed something that the light will show you! If you take too long to wash it out, the hardened emulsion will get weak and fall off, and then your screen is ruined and you have to start over, so it’s a bit of a timing game. You don’t want to do it too fast/aggressively, or too slow.
  • Chemicals - We use eco-friendly inks and emulsions, but we use a screen to filter the washout basin water to make sure no chunks go down the drain, and we throw away what the filter catches in the trash. The reason we’re able to use water-based, eco friendly inks is that we’re a smaller company and we do a print run all at once. With more toxic plastisol inks you can leave the screen and walk away and have lunch; with water based if you stop, the ink will dry in the screen and ruin it if you leave it for more than a minute. It’s another challenge, but the water based inks are worth it in my opinion for the effect you get. Plastisol is a thick plastic like substance that sits ‘on top’ of a shirt, whereas waterbased inks are much more like a dye that soak into the fabric and are much less noticeable to the touch, which is a great plus in my opinion. 
  • Squeegee- We buy these from Ryonet, but they last a long time for us and they only cost around 12-14 bucks, so for me it’s worth it just to buy them. I know you can replace the rubber, I believe that they sell the rubber, but I’m not sure I’d be able to replace that as I’ve never tried! We buy most of our screenprinting supplies from an American based company Ryonet, they have truly been a one-stop shop for our supplies and their prices on MOST things are pretty fair!

Well that ended up a lot longer than I thought it would, but there you go! I hope some of it helps you, and other people who are interested in screen printing. There are a lot of great resources online as well, and if you’re having continued problems I would honestly suggest the subreddit for screen printing, the people there are pretty nice and very, very knowledgeable. Most of the challenge of screen printing is knowing something’s wrong but not knowing what could be causing your problem and having to work down the list of things that could be mucking it up. Good luck!

Thank you for that thorough answer :) Yeah I don’t think we have Ryonet here, we get most of our stuff by Tiflex and other big suppliers. So do waterbased inks need to be cured like Plastisol does? And also, for your most delicate design (like the Sherlock one) did you ever felt the need to use capillary film? While we’re at it, what is the numeration of the screens you use?

Thanks very much!

No problem! Waterbased inks need to be heat set for the most part, there are some aerotex inks that don’t require heat setting, they have a liquid setter that you mix in when you use the ink, and if you don’t use the ink shortly after that it becomes useless. The ink for those only works dark on light shirts because it’s very very liquid, so it’s a great black and dark navy blue ink, but we don’t use it for anything else. Pretty much all of our shirts are put in a heat press for about a minute each at 350 degrees, we don’t use a flash dryer. The plus is that since waterbased inks are very liquid, you don’t need to worry about the ink melting and sticking to the heat press at all like with plastisol.

And no, I’ve never used capillary film- I thought about it once when I couldn’t get my screens working because I didn’t know at the time I was using a bad batch of emulsion, but it’s just too spendy for me. I use a scoop coater and for the most part it works out great. It just takes a little bit of finesse to get detail out, a lot of videos show people just flat out spraying it until it comes out, but if you take your time and really watch the emulsion you’ll learn when it’s coming out and when it’s a good time to spray the screen down. There will always be some screens that just don’t turn out, but that’s just a part of the process = )

Oh, and when I first started we were using 110’s, and now I think we’re using a mix of 110’s and 200-somethings, I can’t remember. I have a 305, but I feel like it’s too difficult to get a good deposit on a shirt with it.

kalmoony asked:
Hi! I'm currently a screenprinter trainee and I'm getting more and more interested in starting to try and print my own designs at home. So I was wondering, what do you use to expose your screens? How do you deal with chemicals wastes going with the process (solvent,and all that noxious stuff?) Where do you get the rubber for your squeegee? I know there's suppliers but you can make so many things cheaper with some handywork. (I hope I used the right words given I only learned the French ones xD)

(I’m going to publish this since it may be useful to other people who are interested in the process, if that’s not okay let me know and I’ll take it down.)

First off, good for you! Screen printing can be very challenging, but also incredibly rewarding in a way that is very unique to the process. Let me go ahead and answer your questions as best I can = )

  • Exposure - For this I use a home-made light box, I made it years ago when I first started because purchased lightbox units specifically for screenprinting are in the $1,000+ range, and I made mine for probably $50-$80, with wood and glass. Whatever screen you are planning on using, get a piece of glass that’s a few inches bigger on each side, build a box that’s a little smaller out of around 6” tall pieces of wood, drill holes in one side for the electrical cords and voila, light box! The screens we use are 20”x24”, so my lightbox is around 25”x30”. The distance from the lights to the screen is important, you want the light exposure to be as uniform as possible- so you want the screen to be around 6-8 inches away from the bulbs. For bulbs I use strip lights, flourescent tubes, 6 arranged in a row from one side of the box to the other, for the best and most even light exposure. There are a lot of great but sometimes conflicting tutorials on this subject matter and honestly, I think any light will work, it’s all about finding your exposure time.
  • Talking about exposure time - Find some image online or make your own to use as an exposure sheet. You find your exposure time by putting this transparency on a screen and using a thick, thick paper to cover up most of it, expose for 1 minute, then move it down, expose for 2 minutes, etc. Until you’ve done this around 10 times. Then you wash out the screen and see what came out the best. This is the most frustrating part at times, because there are SO MANY things that can effect your exposure time. The emulsion you use is a huge part of it, but if it rained yesterday it will change a little, if your coating isn’t the same every time, having a thicker or thinner coat of emulsion (Make sure you use a scoop coater, best purchase I ever made!) can make a huge difference. 
  • Wash out - This is another one that took me a while to learn. It’s best to use a hose sprayer on a light soak setting, not jet, for the first bit of washing out. I spray down both sides, count to 20-30 in my head, and continue to wet both sides until I start to see the emulsion coming out. Once I see the emulsion coming out, I start to spray it a little more aggressively, but always be careful to not continue spraying it. The emulsion might be exposed, but it’s not so hard that an aggressive spray of water won’t blast out fine detail work. When you think you’ve got it all, hold it up to the sky so that you can see everything. Examine each corner, every nook and cranny, because you have probably missed something that the light will show you! If you take too long to wash it out, the hardened emulsion will get weak and fall off, and then your screen is ruined and you have to start over, so it’s a bit of a timing game. You don’t want to do it too fast/aggressively, or too slow.
  • Chemicals - We use eco-friendly inks and emulsions, but we use a screen to filter the washout basin water to make sure no chunks go down the drain, and we throw away what the filter catches in the trash. The reason we’re able to use water-based, eco friendly inks is that we’re a smaller company and we do a print run all at once. With more toxic plastisol inks you can leave the screen and walk away and have lunch; with water based if you stop, the ink will dry in the screen and ruin it if you leave it for more than a minute. It’s another challenge, but the water based inks are worth it in my opinion for the effect you get. Plastisol is a thick plastic like substance that sits ‘on top’ of a shirt, whereas waterbased inks are much more like a dye that soak into the fabric and are much less noticeable to the touch, which is a great plus in my opinion. 
  • Squeegee- We buy these from Ryonet, but they last a long time for us and they only cost around 12-14 bucks, so for me it’s worth it just to buy them. I know you can replace the rubber, I believe that they sell the rubber, but I’m not sure I’d be able to replace that as I’ve never tried! We buy most of our screenprinting supplies from an American based company Ryonet, they have truly been a one-stop shop for our supplies and their prices on MOST things are pretty fair!

Well that ended up a lot longer than I thought it would, but there you go! I hope some of it helps you, and other people who are interested in screen printing. There are a lot of great resources online as well, and if you’re having continued problems I would honestly suggest the subreddit for screen printing, the people there are pretty nice and very, very knowledgeable. Most of the challenge of screen printing is knowing something’s wrong but not knowing what could be causing your problem and having to work down the list of things that could be mucking it up. Good luck!

Throwback Thursday

Back in 2012 we were just getting started with screen printing. Amber made all our equipment herself, with the exception of the simple “hobby” screen printing frames we got from an art store. Without an actual printing press and without much space in our tiny rental house, we resorted to screen printing on the floor. 

These pictures are from our very first run of our “Driver Picks the Music” t-shirt. 

image

image

image

You can see Amber’s foot in this last picture! 

- Pepper

Anonymous asked:
Hi! You really dont have to answer this ask but I really wanted to let you know how much I like The Hunger Games Print from a while ago. Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to buy it back then so I would be really thrilled if you could put it up again sometime in the future. I know you might not want to put it up again, I know there's a lot of other things you want to do. I just wanted to let you know there is demand and interest and thank you for all your great designs!

Hello, Anon!

Amber has talked about possibly doing some paper print versions of her designs. I will mention this to her and if the paper prints end up being a thing, maybe The Hunger Games design can be brought back in paper form. Thank you for letting us know you are interested!

- Katelyn