A Beginners Guide to Affordable Screen Printing

A Beginners Guide to Affordable Screen Printing

Are you an artist? Do you love screen printing? It is a process of stenciling and painting, where the image that is custom made is laid over a tightly stretched screen using brushes and or squeegees, then ink is pressed against the screen from a printing press. The mesh screen absorbs the ink, and only the image that is on the screen shows through. (When it is text (like on a shirt), then ink is pressed over the screen repeatedly, and the text appears in the image.) The ink is then removed because it drips then, from the screen and the shirt, onto a flat surface, where the screen is then reused.

If you wish to print your own designs, you should visit your local art store to get an affordable silk screen and a squeegee. You can also check online for wholesalers in screen prints and contact them for a fair deal.

How to screen print in the absence of carousel

A carousel screen printer is a circular device, usually a diameter between 12 inches to a maximum range of 24 inches. It handles the printing plates in varying sizes that are rectangular. Most screen printing carousels are expensive, ranging from a price of $1500 to about $2500. Most of you won’t afford such when you are in the initial process of setting up your place. You don’t need to worry much. Talk to a friend who will help you out. Ask them to firmly hold the screen in position to avoid any movement. Apply ink to the screen using a squeegee and request them to remove the screen. This is a wonderful way to save some cash and grow your business.

Using photo emulsion affordably

Appropriate conditions will favor the easy utilization of photo emulsion. You should understand the process of converting your artwork on the screen to become a stencil.

First, while in complete darkness, use a photo emulsion to coat your screen. Dry it to ensure the emulsion sets well. You then set the transparency of the artwork on the screen before exposing it to light. The result will be your artwork’s stencil.

Purchase a Darkroom Safe Light 

Safe-light condition is the most appropriate way of working with a photo emulsion. It allows you to work with the photo emulsion in a safe light condition to view the coating on the screen and mix the emulsion while preventing UV light exposure. You can visit eBay and have a look at the available safe lights.

With current movie and digital photographic technology, the safe- lights are no longer in great demand; you can find them at a very affordable price in your nearby stores.

Purchase Some Scoop Coater and Photo Emulsion

You can buy this from Amazon or directly from the supplier.

Screen Coating 

You can follow the following simple procedure to coat your screen. 

Put off all the lights and plug your safe light in the socket. The plugging in will allow you to start working in a safe light condition. Follow the manufacturer’s specifications when mixing your photo emulsion.

Have the mixed emulsion on the scoop coater and use it in coating the screen’s underside. When coating the screen, tilt it slightly on the back and slide it up. Complete the screen coating process by pulling it away after leaning it back when at its top.

Screen Drying 

After coating the screen, allow it to dry. Take the screen to a dark place and let it face down as it dries. The drying process takes some time. Ensure you plan for a safe light during the entire drying process. The screen should never have exposure to daylight or any other UV light.

You may use a suitcase to store your coated screen for some time and allow them dry. Put some block on the ends to prevent the screen from touching the bottom and place the screen inside to face down.

Close the suitcase and cover it with a thick blanket to block any light penetration until it dries up. The drying process is much faster in the summer season. During the winter period, the process can go up to one week. You can also supply it with a low heat fan to increase the drying process.

The best way is to ensure that your artwork is under safe light condition during the entire drying process and only expose it to other light once completely dry.

Other people discovered a cheap way of drying their coated screen with the cardboard that packages laptops. After buying a new laptop, they don’t throw away the packaging cardboard. They seal the cardboard with dark tape and place a few blocks on the ends to secure the screen from touching the bottom. They close the top lid and through a thick blanket over it to prevent any light penetration. The screen should face down, and the box closed then left to dry for about 2 to 3 days.

Construction of an Affordable Exposure Unit 

It is quite expensive to purchase a brand new vacuum sealing exposure unit. How do you survive when you have a low budget or what to save some cash for some other things?

Here are some tips for exposing your screens in a cost-effective way 

Buy a Lamp for An Exposure Unit

A 500-watt halogen work light may retail at your nearby hardware store at $30. The lump usually has a clear glass lens, black housing, and a wire grill covering on the front. Once you buy the lamp, remove the glass and the grill from the front part before using it. The bulb’s front lens and the grill is a UV filter, and you may need a maximum exposure of your artwork screen on the light.

You may raise the lamp on a piece of wood if you have a shed. Allow it to be about 32 cm away from the thistle table for exposing the screen.

Attaching a hinge on the wood will make work easy. It will allow you to be folding up and down the lamp when not in use. If you lack enough materials for the construction of the shed, never get worried. Use what is at your disposal. Some people use a guitar stand to raise the lamp in the recommended distance from the exposing table, and it works.

You will need to purchase some form of rubber for fitting under the screen. You should make the form deeper than the screen. It will facilitate pushing the screen from the table when placed under the lumps face up.

Purchase a 3m plain cloth fabric. The material will help in covering the foam rubber and exposed areas under the screen.

Cover the form entirely by wrapping it with a piece of black fabric. Attaching the black fabric using the screws may be challenging. You can alternatively use liquid nails for attachment. Once you cover the form with the plain black cloth, it will work.

Purchase a piece of one quarter plate glass (should have zero UV rating or any lowest rating possible), have its measurement to ensure that it is enough for covering your artwork, and hold it down flat on the screen. If you make it slightly more significant than the inside edge of the screen, it could be the best.

Secure the edges of the glass by sanding to prevent getting cuts when handling it. You can visit any glass supply store to support you in the sanding process.

The above items will help you in your task. You should safely keep the remaining black fabric. You will need it in covering the table area when you are ready to expose your screen.

The Procedure for Exposing the Screen 

It is advisable to carry out the procedure at night because some processes need safe-light conditions. Garden horse with pressure may also help you in cleaning out the screens.

Place the forms on the underside of the screen. Put off all other lights and switch on the safe light. Bring out your coated art screen with a dried photo emulsion. Have the form packing in the screen’s underside position and place the screen in the middle of the black cloth. Have the artwork on the screen as you consider the way you wish the art print to appear. Hold it flat against the screen by placing a glass on top. Switch on the work-light and expose the screen for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the work light after 5 minutes of exposure and switch on your safe light. Wash your screen by soaking it in soft spray water. Turn on high-pressure water to eliminate the unwanted emulsion. Dry up your screen, and it will be ready.


If you love the artwork, you can get into this as a side income. Earning some side income is good. You may expand and open a cloth line and make a decent profit. You may use the tips above to simplify the printing process and lower the operation cost. Some material is locally available and can help you evade the enormous expenses of purchasing costly materials and equipment.

Additionally, using the above simple procedures can spare your time as you work on your daily jobs. Reading through the work must be of great value! You can now practice new skills and make money.

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