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Eliminating Variables in the Screenroom

(June 2013) posted on Wed Jun 19, 2013

Standardization is a key part of preventing costly quality-control issues on press.


By Rick Davis

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If there is one component of the screen-printing process that has a greater impact on the quality of the finished product than any other component, it is the screen. The truth of this statement lies in the number of facilities that have made the investment to maximize the quality of the screens. While some still get by with whatever they have available, a majority of garment screen printers have either upgraded their frames, mesh, or stencils, or they’ve or completely revamped their screen departments altogether.

Philosophy
Among the greatest challenges that screen printers face are understanding the importance the role of the screen plays in their shops and adopting the philosophy that the screen is the key to producing the quality that customers demand. It is this philosophy that drives the shop manager or owner to make the required investments and changes to assembling a screen department with the sole purpose of producing the highest quality screen from production run to production run.

Art preparation
There are few things in the world more frustrating than discovering an error in your artwork after you have already exposed your screens—or worse, set up your press and printed a strike-off. The work required to fix this type of mistake means a loss of time and money.

Let’s look at artwork separation from two different angles: outputting to film and direct-to-screen (DTS) imaging. In either case, you should always have a second pair of eyes to review a separation prior to it being sent to film or your DTS system. There are numerous aspects to a set of separations that have to be reviewed to ensure that there are no errors when the art is ready for the screenroom. The simplest and most common error that should be double checked is spelling. It’s easy to catch and correct while still in the art department.

For film-output separations, you should be able to review the finalized art on the computer monitor and be able to ensure that all is correct prior to sending the art to the film-output device. Once you’ve reviewed and finalized the art and it has been properly reviewed and approved, it can be sent to the film-output device and the films sent to the screenroom.


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