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
Frames have a great surface to work with when they’re brand new. But after new mesh has been applied several times, the surface can become less than ideal due to multiple layers of adhesive, fabric, and ink residue that have built up (Figure 2).
You can—and most people do—re-glue mesh over old adhesive numerous times before theframes must be reconditioned. But many printers don’t take the time to prep the frame properly when they attempt to recondition it.
The most common mistake people make with aluminum frames is that they sand the glue off with a palm sander or similar device. While sanding is acceptable for wood frames, it may not be the best for aluminum. Sanding aluminum usually leaves the surface too smooth for the adhesive to bite into it effectively. Sandblasting is great for small frames but may be impractical for large frames. So this leaves only a few options to remove the adhesive, including mechanical brush grinders, angle grinders with flapper discs, or chemicals. Regardless of the method used to remove old adhesive, it’s important that the person performing this task has proper safety equipment (eye, ear, and breath protection).
The chemical method is most commonly used with coated steel frames, but it is also used with aluminum frames. The chemicals come in two main varieties: gels and liquids. To ensure the best performance,the exact chemical makeup of the strippers should be recommended by the manufacturer of the adhesive you use.
The task of chemically removing adhesive can be performed in a few different ways. Some people will dip their frames (if the size allows) in a stripper solution. Others will paint or spray the cleaning chemical onto the frame, wait a period of time, and then remove the residue with scrapers. To complete the process, excess stripper material and residue is cleaned off the frame with an appropriate solvent.
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