Screen printing is a method where a mesh is used to transfer ink on to the substrate. Screen printing has become an accepted method for the sign industry as it provides a quick way to process artwork into the printing screen. A variety of methods can be used to put an image on the screen. For instance, stencils can be used for simple designs and shapes, while photographic process can be used for complex images. Screen printing mesh is a multipurpose process among all printing processes. It is utilized on different substances such as fabrics, paper, paperboards, metal, glass, nylon, and others. Screen printing is used in various products such as labels, signage, posters, textiles and electronics.
Screen printing mesh is a screen that is used for specific printing purposes. It refers to the number of threads per inch of fabric. It can be made up of silk, cotton, metal gauge or polyester. Fineness of mesh leads to sharper outlines. The only disadvantage of using finer mesh is the effort needed to drive the printing paste through the screen. Two types of threads are used in screen printing mesh – monofilament thread and multifilament thread. In monofilament, single strands are weaved into fabric and is generally used in commercial printing whereas multifilament threads are combination of multiple strands wound together, then weaved into fabric. But most of the mesh which are used for high performance are generally monofilament. They are regular fabrics, and single strand threads are capable of providing great printing detail. However, multifilament screen printing mesh is common in the textile industry. It is one of the most used technology used in the printing industry.
Historical Background: Screen printing is actually a form of stenciling, and has been used by ancient civilization. For instance, cave dwellers, Romans, Egyptians and Greeks all used stencils to create design of decorative nature. The screen printing technique began in China in 3rd century AD, mainly for production of some images, but soon became a prominent method of transferring designs to fabric. It is unknown that who had started the practice of using fabric stretched over the frame, although silk screens were used in France by late 18th century for printing of cloth, and is this method is still in use in the textile industry. It is known that, a patent was granted to Samuel Simon, a Manchester based printing specialist, for the use of silk with stencils. After that, silk was fairly used as a mesh in screen printing industry.
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Screen Printing Mesh: Screen printing mesh is a weaved cloth stretched over the frame. Most of the mesh used today are polyester based, either monofilament or multifilament polyester. Silk is now rarely used process of screen printing. The better quality of mesh provides crisp details. Today, polyester woven screen printing mesh and nylon screen printing mesh are widely used in screen printing industry. The polyester woven screen printing mesh is suitable for screen printing process owing to its characteristics of providing good tensile strength and its resistance to different scrapes, chemical effects, heat, temperature and moisture. Due to dimensional stability of polyester screen printing mesh, it is appropriate for high accuracy printings, such as printed circuit boards. On the other hand, nylon screen printing mesh offers high tensile strength. For instance, it can be stretched 30 to 40% before breaking, while polyester mesh stretches to 20 to 25% before breaking. Polyester screen printing mesh works well in wet conditions due to less moisture absorption capacity up to 0.8 to 1%. Application areas of polyester screen printing mesh includes printed circuit boards, ceramic and glass industry, textile printing & dyeing.