Video Tutorials

9010 Screen Washer Setup

A brief instructional video showing the setup of a Screen Systems 9030-1 Screen Washer

Automatic Screen Washer Demo

A brief overview of the Screen Systems 9030-1 Screen Washer and some of its features.

Screen Reclaiming Process

A beginning-to-end demonstration of cleaning, rinsing and reclaiming a screen using Screen Systems' automatic screen washer, wash-out sink and automatic emulsion remover.


  1. Q: How do I get my image on the screen?
    A: A film positive is created from a digital art file. That film positive carries the image to your screen. Your screen is coated with photo emulsion in a "light-safe" area. The film is then applied to your coated screen and a light is turned on for a duration of time to expose the image. That light hardens the emulsion everywhere, except for where the black image is located on the film positive. The screen is then developed with water. The water carries any emulsion that has remained soft out of the screen to reveal open mesh. Anywhere light comes through the screen is where ink will come through.
  2. Q: How long will my screen last?
    A: Depends if you poke a hole in it before you get home with it. It also really depends on how often you use it. An aluminum frame will last forever unless you run it over with your car. Wood frames will warp over time and mesh will inevitably lose tension over time. But, so long as you don't do any major physical damage, your screen should last for years.
  3. Q: How long should I expose my screen for?
    A: Because of the ever changing variables from shop to shop, you're going to have to test. You could make an uneducated guess on every screen for the next six months and keep your fingers crossed, or you could do one of two things. Thing one, administer a step-wedge test (which you can make yourself). Thing two, use an exposure calculator (which we sell here).
  4. Q: Do I really need a scoop coater?
    A: Well, you can scrape liquid emulsion onto your screen with any tool that has a hard edge. But, a scoop coater is going to provide you with the most consistency, ease of use and ultimately prevent you from ripping all your hair out. You can either invest in a scoop coater now or a hair-piece later.
  5. Q: How do I register multiple colors on a t-shirt?
    A: For multiple colors, consistently registered on a shirt, you'll need a rotary press. Each color is assigned to a separate screen. Each screen is lined up and locked down on the press prior to printing. The number of colors you can print is determined by the number of print heads on your press.
  6. Q: My image is not exposing properly... why?
    A: 90% of the time, that's the problem. If more stencil is coming out that desired during development, you're underexposed. Question is, what's the reason for your underexposure. Could be as simple as not letting your coated screen dry long enough. Utilize that step-wedge test or exposure calculator to really dial in the correct time for your setup.

    If the image area is NOT washing out during development, congratulations ... you've overexposed your screen. But before you cut back your exposure time, check the image density on your film positive and make sure no white light has fogged your screen prior to exposure or development.
  7. Q: My image is not printing in some spots... what up with that?
    A: So many reasons, where do we begin ... Well, there might be scum (underdeveloped emulsion) blocking the image area, which means you've underexposed your screen and should refine technique in the darkroom. Your off-contact might be too high or inconsistent on the press. Check to ensure about a nickel's width throughout. Your squeegee pressure might be too low or inconsistent in certain areas, so check it. Your platen or printing surface may not be level or may be inconsistent. And, let's not forget during your print stroke ... you want the entire squeegee to cover the width of the entire image the entire time.
  8. Q: What kind of mesh should I use?
    A: Depends on the substrate, the pigment particle size in your ink, the amount of detail in your image and the amount of ink you wish to deposit. Higher mesh counts are best for detail. Lower mesh counts are best for opacity. The most popular mesh counts we sell for shirts are 110 TPI (threads per inch) and 156 TPI. For posters, signage, etc 195 TPI and 230 TPI.

    White or yellow? ... white exposes about 15% faster than yellow. But, yellow holds more detail than white. Price is comparable. White tends to be a bit less. The choice is yours.
  9. Q: What kind of emulsion should I get?
    A: It really depends on how many impressions you're trying to print, how much detail you need to achieve, what type of ink you're using and how quickly you'll use up a container of emulsion. There are other variables to consider as well but if you can answer these questions first, you'll be on the right track. There's liquid emulsion and capillary film. For this question, let's focus on liquid emulsion. There are three basic types of emulsion and the sensitizer is the main difference between the three. The sensitizer is also what gives the emulsion its shelf life DIAZO Sensitizer: diazo Must be sensitized prior to use Pro: most water resistant stencil Cons: longest exposure time most difficult to reclaim DUAL CURE Sensitizer: either diazo, SBQ or both Some are presensitized, some are not dual properties: resistant to both solvent and water based ink systems generally shares characteristics of both diazo and photopolymer PHOTOPOLYMER Sensitizer: SBQ Comes Presensitized Pros: fastest exposure easiest to reclaim longest shelf life Con: least water resistant stencil
  10. Q: Why is the emulsion not coming out when I reclaim my screen?
    A: *Are you using a high pressure washer when reclaiming your screen? (This is absolutely necessary, a garden hose will not do)
    *Are you getting all of the ink out of your screen prior to reclaiming? (Ink/ink residue left in the screen will prevent emulsion remover from working properly. Get all ink out first with screen wash/ink degradent)
    *How long are you allowing the emulsion remover to sit on the screen? (If you leave it sit too long, it too will actually lock the emulsion into your screen)
    *Have you printed or washed up with strong solvents? (Any solvent will permanently lock underexposed emulsion into your screen)
    * As a Last resort / "Kemper Cocktail": Apply our Systems product 6000 onto affected area. Then, apply Systems 2510 over the top. Finish with another misting of Systems 6000. Let sit for a good 15-20 minutes. Power wash + keep your fingers crossed!
  11. Q: Why did the ink fade/come off when I washed my shirt?
    A: It wasn't cured properly. Or, the material you're printing on requires a catalyst to be added to the ink prior to printing to ensure adhesion. In general, you'll want to ensure the entire ink deposit reaches at least 325F to achieve a full cure. There are a couple of tools you can use to check the temperature of your heat source. One way is to use Thermolabels which are "stickers" that when applied to the garment and run through the dryer, read a range of temperatures. The other way is to use a Temperature Gun. This is arguably more accurate and unquestionable more fun. Just point and shoot and this laser beam will kick back the temp of whatever it touches. For most accurate results, close range is best.
  12. Q: Why are there different meshes?
    A: For different applications silly. A more detailed breakdown to come soon. Again, higher mesh counts are best for detail. Lower mesh counts are best for opacity. The most popular mesh counts we sell for shirts are 110 TPI (threads per inch) and 156 TPI. For posters, signage, etc 195 TPI and 230 TPI.
  13. Q: Why do I see the mesh impressions/dimples when I print?
    A: Call Debra @ ext 135 :)
  14. Q: Why am I only getting 50-100 impressions from my screen?
    A: You're underexposed. Go back to the darkroom and refine your technique. Humidity might be high in your shop, depending on the time of year ... get a dehumidifier. You may not be using the proper emulsion to resist your ink system. Ensure your emulsion stencil and ink system are not fighting one another. Additionally, you might be using more squeegee pressure than necessary. Ease up a bit Hulk. Keeping your screens properly tensioned will also help to maximize the life of your stencil.
  15. Q: I always expose my screens for 7 minutes, why can't I get an exposure now?
    A: Something has changed (emulsion type, film type, coating technique, light source, mesh count, mesh color, etc). Trace your steps. If you haven't changed anything in your technique ... how old is your emulsion? It may be expired. Has any white light seeped into the darkroom? Your screens may have been fogged. Humidity ALWAYS goes unexamined! What time of year is it? What did your weatherman project the due-point to be today? Get a dehumidifier.
  16. Q: Why is my ink sticking to the back side of my screen?
    A: This is generally a viscosity issue. By reducing the ink's viscosity, you'll reduce it's tack to the screen.
  17. Q: How do I get dried ink out of my screen?
    A: Time to remesh. However, we do sell a miracle product that works well as a "last resort". It's called Screen Wash Gel and the beauty of it is that it stays wherever it's applied. Let it sit for a bit in the affected area for a few hours if need be and power wash after. No go? Remesh.
  18. Q: I printed color over this white underbase; why does the ink look pimpled and what can I do to make it look smooth?
    A: Call Debra @ ext 135 :)
Ulano Direct Emulsion Troubleshooting Checklist

Same Day Shipping Deadlines

To insure that your order will ship out on the same day, it must be placed before:

  • UPS: 2:00 PM
  • SPEE-DEE: 2:00 PM
  • FED-EX: 2:00 PM

Orders may still go out on the same day if placed after the times above, as we always try our hardest to ship promptly, but it is not guaranteed. If it is after a deadline and you need to confirm same-day shipment, please call customer service to discuss your options.

Vector Formats

  1. supported file formats: .AI, .EPS, .SVG, .PDF, .DXF
  2. outline all text (in Adobe Illustrator: Ctrl/⌘ + A, Type > Create Outlines)
  3. set all areas to be printed solid to 100% K (in Adobe Illustrator: Ctrl/⌘ + A, Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork...), all other values will have a corresponding halftone applied
  4. unless specified, right-reading image orientation will be assumed
  5. make sure graphic is at print size, or include desired dimensions in your e-mail

Bitmap/Raster Formats

  1. supported file formats: .PSD, .TIF, .PDF, .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .BMP
  2. 300 DPI or higher at print size
  3. unless specified, right-reading image orientation will be assumed
  4. set all areas to be printed solid to 100% K without anti-aliased edges (the easiest way to be sure in Adobe Photoshop: Image > Mode > Bitmap...), all other values will have a corresponding halftone applied

Common Adjustments to incur art time

  1. resizing
  2. recoloring
  3. removing drawing information, dimensional marks, etc. from file
  4. removing/cleaning up anti-aliasing (gradient-smoothed edges) from bitmap files
  5. manual spot color (non-CMYK) separations from flattened composite images
  6. creating a film positive from a provided paper graphic (scanning, cropping, graphic treatments); this almost never requires more than 15 minutes

Common Adjustments, Preparation that will not incur art time

  1. adding standard crop marks or registration marks (custom configurations may incur art time)
  2. standard CMYK separation
  3. spot color separations (if spot color swatches are defined in the file)
  4. setting halftone properties such as dot shape, LPI, screen angle
  5. setting right or wrong reading graphic orientation
Series Color Width Length Adhesive Type Tack Level Solvent Resistance Removability Price
6321 White 2", 3" 110 yds Full Medium Medium Easy $$
6200 White/Clear 2", 3" 108 yds Full Medium Medium Medium $
6451 White 2", 3", 4" 60 yds Split Medium Med-High Easy $$$
6451F White 2", 3", 4" 60 yds Full Medium Med-High Easy $$$
6476 Blue 2", 3", 4" 50 yds Full High High Medium $$
RT-2000 Blue 2", 3", 4" 36 yds Full High High Medium $$$
GF-S2 Silver 3" 200 yds Full High High Medium $$$$$
6221 White 2", 3", 4" 60 yds Full Highest Highest Difficult $$$$

Film positives are printed on Afford-A-Black waterproof film. Film rolls can accomodate image widths up to 1/2" less than their own widths. Choose the narrowest roll that will accommodate the width of your image (think about rotating your images or doubling-up images to minimize your film usage).

What is your image height?


Choose the width of your roll


Your estimated film cost*:

* The minimum film charge is $10 + $15 OPEN & OUTPUT fee, which is included in the above estimate. Ready to print? Email your artwork to ( Northwest Graphic Supply Co.

Mesh Price Estimator

Enter your frame height and width in the appropriate fields below, then click the button that displays the mesh count you wish to use on your frame and your cost estimate will appear in the designated area below.



Your estimated mesh cost*:

*This estimate is for monofilament polyester meshes only.

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