Decisions you make during the screenmaking stage can have a major impact on the success of the printing process. Learn about the choices you face in frame selection and in securing your mesh to the frame.
By Eric Klein
Screen printers face as many options in screenmaking as there are opinions about which frame types and mesh attachment methods are best. Here, I’ll cover the most popular frame systems and procedures for affixingscreen mesh to the frames, considering the benefits and drawbacks of each. I’ll also explore how the specific fabric selected can influence the effectiveness of different screenmaking components and methods.
Frames come in two main varieties: static and retensionable. Within these two categories you have multiple options from an assortment of manufacturers. Of these two groups, the simplest form are the static or rigid frames, commonly known as stretch-and-glue/staple frames (yes, there are people who staple mesh to wooden frames!).
Rigid frames are available in many different materials and profiles. The configurations frequently are based on the size of the frame and the intended use. The most common materials are wood, tubular aluminum, and tubular steel. Wood frames are arguably the most popular due to their lower cost but are limited in size for strength reasons and generally not recommended for high-resolution,tight-tolerance work. Among the metal rigid-frame types, tubular aluminum is the most popular in the United States. Aluminum frames are lighter than steel frames but provide similar stability. Steel frames, epoxy coated or powder coated, are more popular overseas.
Tubular aluminum frames support a variety of gluing surfaces, including sandblasted, ground, or raw with no texture (Figure 1).
Testing at Saatiprint has shown that a ground or sandblasted surface provides the strongest bond with mesh adhesive due to the greater surface area created by these surface-preparation methods. The adhesive type and viscosity play a factor in bond strength as well, but I’ll address these issues later in the article.
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