Screen Printing Capillary Film

Your Stop for Name Brand Capillary Film

Most screen printers trust liquid emulsion as the most rewarding tool for coating screens and creating stencils. These same printers often overlook a great alternative: capillary film. Capillary film is hardened emulsion with a polyester backing. This type of film can be used for a wide range of demands like textured garments or prints, higher resolution images for a lower cost.

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Why Choose Garston for Your Capillary Film

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Trying to find the right capillary film for your project? Just ask the experts at Garston! We pride ourselves on not only providing great products, but excellent customer service to back them up.

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The Benefits of Capillary Film



You can stop worrying about getting emulsion everywhere, when you use capillary film. The only real tool you need is your hands for placement, and you can avoid using a scoop coater and the messy cleanup that usually follows after.

You’ll also be able to use capillary film in environments you usually can’t.



Capillary film is essentially the same as emulsion, except for the fact that it’s coated onto a sheet of plastic, and it will always be the same thickness for each sheet. If you keep running into problems with consistency, such as when you’re coating your screen or you have multiple hands on your project, capillary film will make it much easier to not only be productive but consistent in your measurements.



There can be lot of problems using regular emulsion. Often, you may have to throw it away if it’s unusable, recoat your screen multiple times or simply dump excess after you’ve coated your screen. Since capillary film comes in a sheet form, you’ll never overuse this product, and you’ll never have a poorly-coated screen or wait for it to dry after degreasing. You can immediately apply capillary film on a wet screen.  

The Steps to Using Capillary Film

The best part about capillary film is that it’s smooth, making it easy to create a detailed stencil.

1. Clean Your Screens

Any high-quality stencil was created with the added benefit of a clean screen. The same can be said for applying emulsion. The very first step you need to take care of is to clean your screen from any grease, stains or dirt. These kind of unwanted elements make it hard for your mesh to properly adhere to the film. Your first step will include cleaning your screen with a degreasing agent and thoroughly rinsing it off.

2. Apply a Wetting Agent

After cleaning off your screen, you’ll need to apply a wetting agent. In order for your capillary film to completely adhere to your screen, you’ll need large amounts of water to be added into the mix.

Some screen printers tend to scrub their screens to help keep the water on the screen, but it’s not recommended to do this step. Instead, you should only use a wetting agent that can specifically be used with during capillary film adhesion.

cleaning mesh
cleaning a screen 2

3. Wet Your Screen

Now that you’ve applied a wetting agent, you’ll also need to apply water to the surface fo your screen. The main goal here is to add as much water as you can to fill each individual square of mesh.

4. Apply Your Capillary Film 

The moment you’ve been waiting for – time to apply your capillary film! To start out, you need to have your film tightly rolled, and make sure the emulsion side is out. Start by applying at the top edge of the film to your screen, pressing ever so slightly.

During the process, apply only slight pressure as you unroll the film down your screen. If you feel the film pulling from your hands as you apply it, this is a good sign. It means that the film is bonding to the water.

5. Make Sure Water Has Gone Through the Emulsion

Wondering how to tell if you’ve made a complete bond between film and screen? You’ll need to make sure that the emulsion has completely come in contact with the water. You can ensure this by using a window squeegee, a printing squeegee won’t absorb enough water. Then you can simply flip the screen over, and run the window squeegee on the back of your film.

6. Dry Your Screen

The last step in the process of using capillary film is to let the screen dry. It’s recommended that you wait around 20-30 minutes to make sure that the emulsion has had enough time before exposure. (You can also use an exposure unit). Similar to liquid emulsion, you’ll want to dry your screen horizontally to attest for any runoff.

To tell if your screen is completely dry, try removing the polyester film. If the film peels right off without any resistance, you’ve completed the process, and now you’re ready to apply a film positive and expose your screen. 

Capillary Film FAQ

What Is Capillary Film?

Capillary Film is a pre-sensitized film used for screen printing stencils. It’s normally only applied to a screen when its wet to help the screen fabric before applying emulsion and before exposing the screen.

How Does Liquid Emulsion Relate to Capillary Film? 

Most screen printers turn to liquid emulsion due to its affordability, otherwise it’s a more labour-intensive, inconvenient way of applying an emulsion. It also will increase your production time due to its appliance and clean-up procedures.  

Why Is My Stencil Wrinkling or Shrinking After Using Capillary Film? 

If you use capillary films to create your stencils, and you’re running into problems after you’ve washed out the stencil, it’s possible you’re underexposing your screen or the screen has not been degreased before you applied the film. It could also be from poor mesh prep, or a long duration in water, either before applying the film or during cleanup.

Why Do I Need to Use a Degreaser on Capillary Film? 

There are plently of special degreasers or mesh pretreatments that were created for capillary films, and it’s because of the ability to raise the surface energy of mesh, and hold an even amount of water on the surface of the film.

If you’re using a dry capillary film and applying it to a wet screen, you’ll need to also consider using an abrader when you degrease your screen. This abrader will help rough up your screen, giving your capillary film a better surface for your film to adhere to.

Garston, Sign Screen & Digital

Honest, Fair Prices On All Capillary Films

With over 60 years in business, Garston is your leading supplier and expert in capillary fims. We offer name brand, affordable and high-quality capillary films. If you have any questions about our products or would like to place an order, give us a call:860-289-3040