What is Screen Printing Degreaser?
What is screen degreaser and do I have to degrease my screens?
This is a common question with a really important answer… YES! This is a super important and should not be skipped. Never take a screen straight to emulsion coating.
Ok, but why? Even new mesh is not necessarily clean mesh. Oils and lubricants are used during mesh manufacturing and may still remain on the new mesh even though most manufacturers wash the mesh. Additionally, dust, dirt, and, oils are likely to accumulate on the mesh from handling during the packaging or shipping process. Any of these contaminates can cause premature screen failure from fish eyes or pinholes.
Eliminating Fish Eyes with Degreaser
What are those and how do they affect my screens? Fish eyes are large circular voids in the emulsion that look like “fish eyes”, hence the name. Pinholes are common problem in screen printing and are small transparent holes or dots that show in the print process. Pinholes are commonly fixed with a water-based block out such as Fast Set or transparent packaging tape. Both issues cost you more money in materials and downtime and eat into your profits.
Can I use degreaser from my local home improvement store? While, yes, there are chemicals such as janitorial products that may work in a pinch for limited use, they are not chemically the same as a screen printing degreaser. Products not designed for screen printing may contain many additives and ingredients for performance on surfaces other than screen mesh. At best these products may do an inefficient job or at worst may shorten the life of your screen mesh. It’s always best to use a product specifically tailored for screen printing degreasing to achieve optimal results.
Do I need to use a standalone screen printing degreaser?
No, most of Kor-Chem’s ink degradants and emulsion removers have built-in degreasers. These eliminate the need for separate degreasers and save the extra step. However, it is recommended to degrease new screen meshes with a dedicated screen printing degreaser such as DG-520. These single-purpose products typically cost less than a combination product and will save you money.
How do I degrease my screen printing mesh?
Take your screen to a washout booth and wet both sides of the screen. Spray apply degreaser to both sides of the screen. With a nylon scrubber pad, scrub both sides of the screen from top to bottom. With a high-pressure washer, start rinsing on print side (inside) of the screen from top to bottom.
Repeat this on the opposite side of the screen as well. Once all the degreaser and bubbles have been rinsed off, do a final low pressure flood rinse. Be sure all the degreaser is gone from the screen. Excess degreaser in the mesh can interfere in the coating process as well. Now your screens are ready for drying.
Screen Drying Tips:
Air drying screens is fine, but really slow. When water is allowed to sit on the mesh, it acts like a magnet attracting just about anything airborne to it. These airborne contaminates include dust, hair, lint, and threads from clothing. It is best to get as much water off the screen as soon as possible.
If you want to speed up the drying process, try blowing water out of the screen mesh using clean compressed air. Be careful though as some airlines may have water or oils in them. Water extraction with a wet/dry vacuum works well for quickly removing most water from the screen.
Adding a forced air space heater or fan to your drying space is a good option as well. However, no matter where you dry your screens, they need to dry in a dust-free area!
Even when your screen mesh is new, it can accumulate dust and oil. Degrease your screens to get the best screen results from your projects. Using a screen printing degreaser made for screen printing applications can extend the life of your screens.