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Building an Exposure Unit...

Posted on Tue, 15 Nov 2005 at 23:33

Hi anyone,

I'm not poor...but I'm thinking that a decent exposure unit can be built for MUCH less than the going rate of $1000+

Can anyone give me some idea of what is absolutely necessary when taking this route?

I mean, I just want to print some 2 to 4 color t-shirts to sell on designs can be quite detailed though. I'm a graphic designer of 10 years now...I'm not making bootleg shirts, this is my own high-quality artwork.

I strive for professional quality, but I'm still in experimental mode here...I need to sell some shirts and see how it turns out before I go investing $10k on equipment.

So I'm trying to do this on a reasonable budget of $1500-2000 that doesn't commit me to debt for the next 5 what kind of power can I get away with to make some decent shirts and test the market?

I don't mind spending money on things that are TOTALLY necessary to create decent quality shirts...I just don't want to make any financial mistakes. And so many questions pop up that I just can't find answers for, such as:

- Are 4 high-intensity UV BLB enough to expose a medium detailed screen in a reasonable amount of time?

I can afford time(15-20 minutes), but I don't want to sit around for hours...between drying and whatnot. So how many bulbs for reasonable exposure times? Can you point out some particular brand/model names that work well for exposure, along with an emulsion that suits it's UV spectrum... :)

- What about flourescent ballast's, do these need to be matched to the particular bulb? Or is it matching wattage rating??? Home depot? Hydroponics store?

- Metal Halide seems expensive to operate, so I would prefer to not build one if I can get quality from 4 or 12 UV blacklight bulbs...I've read the exposure quality between the two is almost negligble. MH is 3x faster this kinda/sorta true? Or should I really just be building a Metal Halide unit and completely forget a BLB tabletop?

- I don't think I need a vaccuum blanket and timers and all that...I can afford to use a stopwatch and glass/foam/pressure. Is there a significant decrease in quality with this method? It seems like very extraneous features...

Anyway I would really appreciate someone giving me the true story on what's what when it comes to exposure units and the rest...there's so much information on the net, but so little on how to do it on a medium budget. It's all or nothing...and I see it's VERY easy to get ripped off in this business.

I can't afford financial mistakes, but I can afford time...I don't mind doing research, but I'm at a point where there's no more solid information...and I'm still uncertain on how to build this as a temporary startup business, with the intention to jump in with both feet after 6-12 months of sales.

What is decent exposure equipment? Where is the line drawn between useable and crap?

Thanks for any and all help...I'm all ready to begin this business, and I can't figure out where to start!!!!!!

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Anonymous says: 1000w Metal halide bulb and transformer $200-300 or cheaper, works fine. Don't need to build anything fancy, just hang it from the ceiling 2' above a table (get the horizontal type with an open reflector) foam ...

1000w Metal halide bulb and transformer $200-300 or cheaper, works fine. Don't need to build anything fancy, just hang it from the ceiling 2' above a table (get the horizontal type with an open reflector)
foam fad, black cloth,screen upside down, posi upside down on screen, glass on all compressing against the pad. About 3 mnutes with regular diazo emulsion. You should build a shroud, this is an extremely bright lamp that can blind you or burn you.
This will keep you out of trouble for a while, you can always grow pot if the screenprinting doesn't work out.

Other options:
There are a number of good threads on about flourescent home made units. they will say which bulbs work - not optimum, but OK

You can use the sun depending on where you live, takes a minute, just hold the frame and the glass and the pad tight and face the sun directly. sun makes excellent stencils.

You cna use a 500w halogen, get rid of the filterglass, it takes longer and it doesn't make as good a stencil.

Finally, maybe get some screens and just pay a shop or supplier to make your first stencils for a while. there is so much going on in sreenprinting process, it gets overwealming at the start. this eliminates a bunch of things (washout, vacuum table, lamp, screen storage, coater, emulsion, cleaning chems, etc) and lets you learn the printing part first.

posted on: Fri, 11/18/2005 - 9:10pm

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