Quick Tips for Choosing Mesh – Part 2

August 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm 1 comment

Here is Part 2 of Kieth Steven’s Tips for Choosing Your Mesh Wisely as presented in Impressions magazine.

Printers often ask me whether there is a big difference between thicker and thinner threads when choosing mesh, and what the difference is between dyed and un-dyed mesh.  There are trade-offs with choosing each variable, so I’ll try to explain these in a little more detail:First, let’s look at thick vs. thin thread.  I’m not talking about mesh count here, but rather the thickness of the strand itself that makes up the mesh fabric, regardless of mesh-count.

Typically a mesh with a thinner thread will cost more and may be more difficult to find since the thinner thread results in larger mesh openings.  Why is this important?  The larger mesh opening greatly improves the printability of any given ink, since more ink can flow through the opening.  This allows for more detail printing as well.  However, the thinner thread may also mean that the mesh is less durable and can tear easier.

A thicker thread is generally more durable, but does result in smaller mesh opening and less detailed printing.  That’s the tradeoff.  However, there are some tricks you can employ to still get good results with a thicker thread.  For example, stretching the mesh to its optimum tension can greatly widen the mesh opening, thus improving the flow of ink.  Of course, good tension also benefits mesh with thinner thread.

Other benefits to improved flow of ink is that it can reduce the necessary off-contact needed, thus reducing the required squeegee pressure.   A good compromise is to choose a mid-range thread thickness which is a good compromise between mesh durability and mesh opening.

Let’s move on to the differences between un-dyed and dyed mesh.

Un-dyed, also referred to as White mesh, is actually clear.  Typically, it has larger mesh openings.  The clear mesh threads allow more light to come through the mesh, resulting in shorter exposure times.  The larger mesh openings also lead to less details transferred from the design.  Think of it as fiber optics that let light travel through the mesh.

Dyed mesh typically has smaller mesh openings, allowing for more detailed transfer of design.  The dye in the mesh helps stop the light from bouncing through the mesh, (stopping the fiber optic effect), thus requiring a longer exposure time.  New printers might find that the longer exposure time required with dyed mesh allow them to control the exposure process easier.

Kieth Stevens is the Western regional sales manager for International Coatings. He has been teaching screen printing for more than 10 years and is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs. For more information, visit iccink.com and read the company’s blog at internationalcoatingsblog.com. – See more at: http://impressions.issshows.com/screen-printing-process/Quick-Tips-for-Choos-6842.shtml?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=42303116&utm_term=5931699&utm_content#sthash.hOzWvDuK.dpuf

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of phthalate-compliant screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Marcelo  |  September 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

    superb post and had no idea that un-dyed mesh has larger mesh openings, so thank you for sharing! This post and part one was very helpful.


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