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The Screen-Cleaning Boxing Ring

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Do green screen cleaners actually work? This article compares them to conventional cleaning products and describes how to use them effectively.

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By Jason Davenport

So what about the cost? In many cases green ink cleaners are more expensive up front, but cheaper in the long run. In today’s market you can buy a gallon of mineral spirits or xylene for less than the cost of a gallon of a green cleaning product. However, a green cleaner may require 0.25 oz of product to clean a standard sized screen. If used correctly, that’s 512 screens/gal. How many gallons of mineral spirits would it take to do the same number of screens?

Round 2: Emulsion and stencil removers
Even with today’s multitude of blue, pink, green, purple, single-part, diazo, and dual-cure emulsions, one thing remains the same—there are not a lot of new chemistries for reclaiming an emulsion. Back in the day, when of my grandfather walked to and from school, uphill both ways, in three feet of snow, screen printers used bleach to remove emulsions. Bleach worked, but its use had far too many disadvantages. If not careful, a worker could become disoriented—or worse—from the bleach vapors, and it took a long time for the emulsion to be removed.

Even today, there are only two primary environmentally friendly chemistries on the market that will remove emulsions and stencils. They come as a liquid or in crystal or powder form. The trick is in how you use them. Every emulsion or stencil requires its own dilution rate of one of these two chemistries to remove a properly cured emulsion. Some manufacturers make a one-size-fits-all emulsion reclaimer, while other manufacturers tailor their emulsion reclaimers to specific emulsions. Not all emulsion removers are the same (Figure 2). Even though most manufacturers use one of the two same chemistries, the trick is finding the one that removes your brand and type of emulsion effectively. A tip: If your emulsion remover does not remove your emulsion with minimal effort in less than a minute, you should look to replace your emulsion remover.


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