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How To Dry Your Coated Screens for Screen Printing

Properly drying your coated screens when making screens for screen printing is a critical step in the screen making process. It ensures that the emulsion adheres uniformly to the mesh, preventing issues such as peeling or flaking during printing. This uniform adhesion is critical for maintaining the integrity of your design, allowing for sharp and precise prints.

Drying screens in a controlled environment minimizes the risk of contamination from dust and other particles, which can create imperfections in your prints. Overall, taking the time to dry your screens properly enhances the quality and consistency of your screen prints, leading to more professional and reliable results.

WATCH VIDEO: Tips For Drying Coated Screens
WATCH VIDEO: How To Use The MagiVac Nozzle For Faster Drying

6 Tips For Drying Your Coated Screen

Properly drying your coated screens ensures that your screens are ready to be imaged for use on press and that the emulsion is set correctly. Here are six tips to help you optimize your screen drying process.

1. Control The Humidity

Humidity plays a significant role in how well and how quickly your screens dry. To manage humidity effectively:

  • Use a Hygrometer: This device measures the moisture in the air. Knowing your shop’s humidity levels is the first step in controlling them. By keeping track of your environment, you can make informed decisions on how to adjust it.
  • Maintain Optimal Humidity Levels: Aim for a relative humidity of 30-40%. Lower humidity levels help screens dry faster, but too low can cause other issues.
  • ChromaLime Emulsion For High Humidity: If your shop's humidity is high, especially during summer, using a product like ChromaLime can be beneficial. This premium screen printing emulsion helps resist humidity and prevents your positives from sticking to the screen or exposure unit.

2. Regulate Temperature

While temperature isn't the sole factor in drying screens, it does play an important role:

  • Ideal Temperature Range: Keep the room temperature between 60-80°F. Heat helps accelerate the moisture evaporation from screens, but it’s the humidity that truly affects drying times. Maintaining a consistent temperature prevents the emulsion from becoming too brittle or too soft.
  • Use a Dehumidifier: This can significantly reduce drying times by lowering the moisture in the air. Remember, even if you dry screens in a cabinet, they can reabsorb moisture from a humid environment once they are removed. A dehumidifier ensures that the environment remains stable, allowing for more predictable drying times.

3. Ensure Proper Airflow

Airflow is crucial for effective drying:

  • Avoid Fans Directly on Screens: While fans can help, they also blow dust onto your screens, which is not desirable. Instead, focus on having a well-ventilated area where cool air can enter and hot, moist air can exit. This setup prevents dust accumulation and maintains a clean drying environment.
  • Create a Drying Cabinet: If you’re building your own drying cabinet, ensure it has good air circulation. This means having a system that allows fresh air in and moist air out, without blowing dust onto your screens. Proper airflow speeds up the drying process and ensures consistent results.

WATCH VIDEO: Build Your Own Drying Cabinet With Ryonet

4. The Darker The Better

Exposing your screens to light, even yellow light, can prematurely expose the emulsion:

  • Use Dark or Low-Light Areas: Dry your screens in as close to total darkness as possible. Yellow lights, often thought to be safe, can emit small amounts of UV energy, which can affect the emulsion on your screens. Keeping your drying area dark prevents accidental exposure and ensures that the emulsion remains light-sensitive until you are ready to use it.

5. Dry Squeegee Side Up

The orientation of your screens during drying matters:

  • Squeegee Side Up: Always dry your screens with the squeegee side up. This allows the emulsion on the top to flow down to the print side, which is critical for print quality. The print side of the screen determines how well the ink is applied, so ensuring proper emulsion distribution on this side is key. This method helps achieve even coverage and prevents uneven drying.

6. Use A MagiVac Nozzle To Remove Excess Water

Using a MagiVac Nozzle can make a significant difference in the drying process:

  • MagiVac Nozzle: This tool is designed to remove excess water from your screen before you put it in the drying cabinet. The rounded edge of the MagiVac Nozzle prevents it from damaging the mesh, unlike some vacuum heads that can cut into the screen. To use it, attach the nozzle to a wet-dry vacuum and ensure a snug fit for effective water removal, preparing your screen for quicker and more efficient drying.

Contact Chromaline Today

By following these tips, you can ensure that your screens dry properly, leading to better prints and a more efficient screen printing process. Proper drying not only saves time but also enhances the quality of your final product, giving you professional and consistent results every time. If you have any further questions about how to make a screen for screen printing, or about any of our Chromaline screen printing products, please contact us today.