How to Fix a Screen Clogging by Using a Screen Opener
Holden’s Screen Supply has been a leading manufacturer of screen printing supplies for almost 75 years. We specialize in offering all the tools of the trade to businesses and hobbyists alike, including water-based ink for paper and fabrics, pre-burned and custom screens, photo emulsion coating, and even screen opener spray to enable you to do what you’re passionate about more easily.
We love that newcomers are picking up this craft, which is why we provide so much education on the different equipment and accessories involved in screen printing. This article will discuss how to unclog a screen using something that will help make life a lot easier: screen spray opener.
Depending on the silkscreen ink you are using, you might run into clogging more or less during the printing process. This can happen with either water-based ink or plastisol. With water-based ink, typically, you need to ensure it does not air dry over the screen by keeping it wet with cold water – which your wash station will be able to handle in most cases. Plastisol ink is probably more widely used and is notoriously more likely to clog your silk screen. When neither cold water alone won’t work for water-based ink, or your plastisol ink is clogging the mesh, it's time to turn to a good screen opener spray.
Silk Screen Stencil and Photo Emulsion with Screen Opener Spray
A screen opener is used to open stencil clogs on the press. It is efficient at removing ink stains, clogs, grease, or other blockages from mesh openings on and off the press. You should be aware that there are several kinds of screen openers available, and you should find the type suited to the equipment you screen print with.
Photo emulsion is one of the most popular techniques for making a silk screen stencil. Photo emulsions have shorter exposure times and can clog up faster. However, screen opener spay can be aggressive on emulsions and so you need to test it out before using it on your stencil.
We make Custom Pre Burned Silk Screen Stencils from images customers send to us at Holden’s Screen Supply. These are high-quality, commercial-grade pre-burned silkscreens. You only need to select your silkscreen frame size, desired mesh count, screen printing ink type, and the substrate or surface you will be printing on. Then upload your image so we can create a ready-to-use pre-burned silkscreen of your design. Your film positive is included with your silkscreen order. But there are some guidelines you will need to follow when using a screen spray opener on some of them.
You should not use screen opener spray for water-based silk screens that utilize any citrus base or citrus scents.
Do not use screen opener for our plastisol silk screens to clean up your screen, but only for on press clog removal.
Screen Opener Spray
A can of screen opener spray will be highly beneficial for your endeavor in screen printing. It works great at removing stubborn ink and grease that builds upon the mesh openings over time.
That clogged ink can ruin your images and even the mesh itself. If you are trying to operate a business that utilizes screen printing, the constant downtime of having to clean screens that aren’t regularly sprayed with screen opener will be detrimental. So will the added costs of replacements.
Every professional screen printing service uses screen openers, and most serious hobbyists do. Just as there are several kinds of inks, silk screens, emulsions, and other accessories on the market, there are probably hundreds of brands of screen opener spray. This makes it hard for the beginner or intermediate printing company/hobbyist to know where to begin. But it’s not that difficult. There are two main types of screen openers: those used for plastisol and others for water-based ink. There are also universal types that work in all forms.
Technically speaking, plastisol doesn’t dry. It hardens. It also requires a process, but it will still begin to clog your screen by becoming lodged into the mesh. The problem is exacerbated if you are using fine meshes. At this point, it will be useless (or at least extremely difficult) to get your screen mesh porous again in your standard press wash or with press wipes. Nothing, in fact, will do the job – and do it so quickly – as a screen opener spray formulated explicitly for plastisol ink.
Your water-based inks will similarly become dislodged quickly from your screens with their appropriate opener spray. Water-based ink will dry in the open air – a problem when you have to step away from the press for a while. One of the added benefits of screen opener spray for both water-based ink and plastisol is that they are a proactive solution to clogs. They don’t just fix the problem after it happens but reduces the ink’s ability to clog when you spray your screen regularly. This will increase the lifespan of your screen mesh and the quality of your print production.
How To Use Screen Spray Opener
Always keep in mind that screen spray opener is a chemical, and ensure you have good ventilation to keep it out of your lungs or eyes when using. Many screen openers have a citrus smell to them, but don’t go using them as air fresheners!
Using it is simple. You merely spray the clogged area from 6 to 8 inches away from the spray nozzle and wipe it vigorously with a clean rag. You repeat this process on the opposite side, too.
And that’s it!
Holden’s For All Your Screen Supply Needs
You’ll find a large inventory of some of the most trusted screen printing tools and accessories at our online store. There is also a wealth of valuable information for both new and veteran printers alike to elevate their craft and have more fun while they do it. Learn and grow in your pursuit with one of North America’s oldest and best suppliers of screen printing supplies at Holden’s Screen Supply Corp.