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
The alternative to the stretch-and-glue process for attaching mesh to rigid frames is to use retensionable frames. These frames became extremely popular because standard polyester mesh fabrics were unstable in terms of maintaining consistent tension levels. With the advent of newer low-elongation (LE) fabrics, the benefit of retightening mesh is no longer as important, but these frames are still very useful. Retensionable frames area available in drawbar and roller configurations.
As their name implies, retensionable frames allow mesh to be retensioned. They use no glue, and they can be fitted with new mesh relatively quickly without the use of chemicals. It takes some skill to get consistent tensions with these frames, and the process usually takes a little more labor to stabilize the fabric, but the results are usually worth it.
Drawbar frames have several configurations for locking the fabric into the frame. One is a stretch-and-glue version, but most consist of either one to two plastic rods or a metal bar that slide into grooves or channels on the frame sides and lock the mesh in place (Figure 4). 0 1
Which configuration to use depends mainly personal preference, but also on the mesh type and thread count you use. For instance, printers working with stainless-steel mesh tend to use the single plastic rod or metal bar locking mechanisms as opposed to the two-rod systems since these meshes are stiffer and the single-component locking systems are easier to work with. Locking the fabric in the frame uniformly is fairly critical to ensure a consistent stretch with drawbar systems.
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