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Managing Mesh-to-Frame Attachment

(December 2011) posted on Wed Jan 11, 2012

This guide focuses on frame systems and procedures for affixing screen mesh to the frames and discusses the benefits and drawbacks of each.

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No matter which method of adhesive removal you use, once you’ve reconditioned a frame, you will need to treat it as if it were brand new. That means you’ll need to check the gluing surface and edges of the frame for nicks, cuts, or any sharp protrusions that could cut or puncture the mesh during the stretching and gluing process.

The use of a solvent to clean the gluing surface also is recommended for non-wood frames. The solvent should evaporate rapidly and leave little to no residue. Oily solvents, such as mineral spirits, lacquer thinners, or safety solvents, are not appropriate. Solvents such as acetone or isopropyl alcohol (99%) are very good choices and will leave the frame clean and free of any material that could compromise the adhesive bond.

Stretching and gluing with rigid frames
The two main categories of stretching devices are mechanical and pneumatic systems (Figure 2). Within the pneumatic category are air-bar and individual-clamp stretching systems. Air-bar systems tend to be less expensive, but they normally don’t stretch mesh as uniformly as a system based on individual pneumatic clamps. Systems based on individual pneumatic clamps can compensate for inconsistency in mesh loading, while air-bar systems can’t. Both types of pneumatic systems allow for the fabric to stabilize because constant pressure is put on the mesh during the stretching process. Another benefit to pneumatic systems is the fact that most can pre-bow the frame, resulting in even more consistent tensioning.

Mechanical stretching systems are most often used for low-volume stretching or where a tight budget is involved. Extremely large mechanical units also available for large-format screenmaking. Mechanical systems are highly effective in getting the job done, but generally they lack the finesse of a quality pneumatic system.

After the mesh is stretched, it’s time to adhere it to the frame. Consider the following points about adhesives:


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