Confused About Mesh?

November 19, 2009 at 12:16 am 1 comment

International Coatings' Western Regional Sales Manager

At one of our recent seminars, Kieth Stevens – our Western Regional Sales Manager, gave a helpful intro on mesh and mesh counts.  Here we asked him to give us a brief synopsis for our blog:

“When ordering mesh from your local screen-printing supply dealer, there are a lot of choices available.  One can easily get confused with all the choices and terminology, such as mesh count, thread diameter, weave, and color available to the printer.

Many of the most popular meshes come in different thread counts and diameters. For example, you can usually get a 110 mesh in up to 3 different styles, such as heavy-duty or light version, and white or yellow color.  The important thing to keep in mind when choosing mesh is what you will be printing.  Just remember that the lower the mesh counts, the more ink will pass through it.

A good rule of thumb is to think of printing inks as layers on your substrate.  A light-colored substrate (such as a white T-shirt) will require less of an ink layer to cover it, so a higher mesh count can be used, whereas a darker substrate will require more ink to cover it, so a lower mesh count may be more appropriate.  Remember that a larger percentage of open area requires less effort for either you or your machine.

Having said that, the type of ink to be used may also determine what mesh count to use.  A glitter ink for example, requires a very low mesh count – such as 38 – in order for the glitter flakes contained in the ink to be able to pass through.  Other specialty inks, such as high-density, puff, Granite base, metallics, or shimmers may also require lower mesh counts.

The design to be printed may also determine mesh counts.  For example, a finely detailed or photographic image with a lot of half-tones will require a high mesh count in order for the details to print correctly.  Be aware though that the thinner thread may be harder to find and may be more expensive.  In addition, it may also rip easier and cannot hold as much tension.

Most printers prefer to use a mesh count that falls somewhere in the middle to use for basic, everyday print jobs.  These medium-count thread counts are usually readily available and costs less because the supply store sells more of these and gets less complaints because the mesh doesn’t rip as easily and can hold a decent amount of tension.

Another consideration when choosing mesh is thread diameter.  Mesh with a larger thread diameter (versus mesh count), can hold a higher tension and also resists ripping.  However, the larger thread diameter will not allow as much ink to pass through and will require more squeegee pressure to allow the ink to clear the mesh.

So when asking for mesh or screens at your local dealer you may want to ask a few questions about your choices.  A knowledgeable dealer is your greatest resource.”

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Entry filed under: General, How-To, Printing Tips. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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