Screen Printing Chemicals

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The steps to screen printing are crucial, and we view them as an art. To achieve the best results, you need to take all the necessary steps and understand when to use products and in what order.


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Types of Screen Printing Chemicals

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Anti-static Spray: This spray can be used for depleting electricity charges that bring on dust and “shock” equipment operators. It can be used on metal rollers, drive belts, scanners and electronic image processors.

Cured Ink Remover: This type of chemical is great for removing cured and uncured plastisol, water-based inks as well as flock adhesive.

Dehazer / Degreaser: This dehazer, abrader and degreaser combo will work on numerous types of ink. Leave your mesh free of oils and contaminants, resulting in less pinholes and better screens overall.

Emulsion Stripper: Cut through oils and remove emulsion in a snap with an emulsion stripper. You can use this stripper to remove photopolymer, diazo and capillary films.

Fabric Abrader: Fabric abraders are used to abrade and degrease nylon and polyester screens. Without harming the frame or mesh, you’ll be able to easily remove dust, oil or dirt.

Haze / Stain Remover: Haze remover and stain remover are both used to remove any stains that could be lingering in your screen mesh before you degrease and recoat any emulsion for your stencil making. Instead of clogging up your screen, this chemical will help remove haze images and allow your ink to freely pass through the mesh, getting rid of any printing problems with an older screen.

Ink Degrader: This screen printing chemical can be used for removing inks during the washout process. It also keeps the emulsion intact.

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Ink Remover: Most low residue, quick drying ink remover helps to remove accidental ink spots or fingerprints on your print. Save time and money with this great alternative.

Low Cure Additive: To help lower the curing or fusion temperature of your plastisol inks, you can use a low cure additive. This can be used for most cotton and polyester blends.

Press Wash: Presh wash is a solvent that can be used for either plastisol or water-based screen printing inks. You can use this product to remove ink from screens, squeegees, ink scoops and other screen printing tools.

Mesh Prep: This cleaning chemical is used to degrease and remove additional debris or dirt from the screen mesh. Cleaning your screens will help your emulsion with adhesion to the mesh as well as eliminating the possibility of pinholes.

Screen Opener: Another great cleaning product for cleaning clogged screens is sprayway’s Screen opener.

Stencil Remover: Remove direct emulsion for all types of screen fabrics with a stencil remover.

Toner Aide: Our Sprayway Toner Aide helps bring out opacity of your laser toner, and can help produce darker positive film. (Know that this product will not darken inkjet positives).

Vinyl Letter Removing Solvent: Remove heat transfer vinyl with a vinyl letter removing solvent. It can also help remove residual adhesive from popular fabric choices with fast drying.

Putting Screen Printing Chemicals to Use

Get Your Mesh Ready

The first screen printing chemical you might be using for your process could be a mesh abrader. Mesh abrader is only used for brand new screens or brand new mesh for the purpose of preparing them to be coated with emulsion. If you forget to abrade your screen, the fibers of your mesh won’t grip onto the emulsion, so it’s always best to apply mesh abrader, but only to brand new products.

Applying mesh abrader isn’t the only way to get your screens ready for your next screen printing project. You can also use mesh prep or degreaser, a type of soapy chemical that helps clean your screen before you’ve applied emulsion. Mesh prep or degreaser helps to wash away grease, oil, dust or dirt. Leaving any remnants of grease or dirt will repel any applied emulsion, not helping it coat properly, and removing this important step from your project.

It’s also good to note that emulsion is an important chemical to use in your screen printing. This product is used to create the stencil for your design. It’s best to apply emulsion with a scoop coater to your mesh, especially after it’s previously been cleaned with mesh prep.

cleaning mesh
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Reclaim Your Screens

Not every screen you use will be brand new, that’s why it’s good to have other chemicals ready for use when you’re looking to reclaim your screen. Since this is a used screen, you’ve already applied emulsion and need a way to remove your stencil. An emulsion remover helps to take off the emulsion, so that your screen can receive a new emulsion and a new stencil. Almost every emulsion remover will have better results with the help of a high powered pressure washer. 

After you’ve finished off your printing job, have you ever had stains or “hazing” leftovers? Hazing refers to a cloudiness left over from the use of inks. In order to combat these marks, once you’ve used an emulsion remover, you can move on to a Haze or Stain Remover. The leftovers of emulsion remover can get stuck to the fibers of your mesh, making the mesh opening close up and get smaller. Haze or stain remover should only be used when there is hazing or ink stains leftover from using an emulsion remover.

Cleaning Up Your Screens or Equipment

When it comes to cleaning your screens, equipment or supplies, there are two types of solvents that you can use: press wash or ink wash.

If you’re looking for a screen printing chemical that’s less aggressive and harsh on your products, you can consider using press wash. Similar to the name, this chemical can be used directly on your press, tables, spatulas, squeegees or any other screen printing supplies you have. It helps to simply clean up ink or remove ink, and it’s also a more gentle remover for emulsion, in the event that you want to reuse your screen or mesh.

On the other hand, Ink Wash is more aggressive, but still beneficial to the clean-up process. Depending on who manufacturers the type you’re using, some ink wash is better at removing inks or stains from mesh, but can be more aggressive toward emulsion. Some screen printers lean more toward ink wash when they will not be reusing a screen. A majority of ink washes are created to be used in washout booths. This means that you can freely handle your ink wash, spray it onto your screen, loosen the ink with a brush, and rinse off the screen with water.

To keep it simple, press wash is meant to be used on your press, while ink wash is used off the press and can be used in reclaiming a screen.

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Screen Printing Chemicals FAQ

Why Did My Screen Fall Apart After Using Haze Remover?

Haze remover is a strong screen printing chemical. You may have left it on for too long, it’s always good to read the label on the product you’ve purchased to find the allotted time for applying a haze remover.

Some haze removers are caustic, meaning that they’re strong enough to burn skin, which also means they can burn right through the fibers on your mesh. Strong haze removers should only be used in moderation, if needed, you could benefit from diluting the haze remover in a separate container. Whenever you handle chemicals, it’s best practices to use gloves, goggles and a mask to prevent any injuries.

What Are Ghost Images and Why Do They Happen?

Ghost Image is another phrase related to hazing or stains leftover from printing. They’re by-products of ink or emulsion.

One reason your clean-up process is resulting in ghost images is because your emulsion could be underexposed. Underexposed emulsion and cleaning chemicals is not a good mix, and can result in excess emulsions stuck inside your mesh. Other reasons can include:

  • The use of abraders during screen preparation can cause scratches on the surface of your mesh, resulting in emulsion ghosting.
  • Make sure to clean both sides of your screen during the clean up process. Only cleaning one side of the screen can cause the chemicals, ink or emulsion to get stuck on the other side.

How Do I Dispose Of My Screen Printing Chemicals Properly?

For hazardous waste disposal, you will need to consult with the local or state laws placed in your area. You will need to research and found out how these rules apply to the types of chemicals you’re using.

Some chemicals have a specific flash point, which can include consulting with a fire marshal or OSHA who are required to dispose of your chemicals. This also means that certain materials or chemicals that you use may need to be placed in a specific container because of their potential to be flammable.

Garston, Sign Screen & Digital

Honest, Fair Prices On All Screen Printing Chemicals

Looking for a printing supplier that you can trust with your screen printing chemicals? Garston has been in the screen printing industry for years, and we know good products when we see them. To order from our inventory of screen printing chemicals, call us today at 860-289-3040