Screen tension revisited

The thumbnail version:

  • Screen tension is essential for good prints
  • Screen tension is often neglected
  • Proper screen tension saves money

The full version:

Wow! Tighter screen tension is giving me much better prints!

Screen tension. This is an aspect of screen printing that seems basic to manage but is often neglected. And screen tension allowed to relax to less than, say, 20 newtons, is going to affect print quality and ink consumption. In fact, screen tension is arguably one of the most critical elements in producing a successful print.

Aside from the end-result benefits, tighter screens allow you to reduce the off-screen distance and squeegee pressure. Reducing the squeegee pressure of course allows the ink to sit on the top of the substrate where you want it, not forced into the garment. The result, for one thing, is a softer hand.

A few bucks spent on good frames and some time spent on paying attention to high tension, will be repaid with better quality, faster production and ink savings.