Instructables

From artwork to printed silkscreen in 15 minutes flat!

There are a plethora of ways to create silkscreens, but they all seem to have limitations.  
  • Photolithography is super flexible, but requires some investment in time, skill and money to get right.  
  • Vinyl cutting by machine (with the TechShop's vinyl cutter) is great, but even a moderately complex design requires a significant amount of time, and skill to weed.  Complex halftones are impossible.  You only have 1 session with your screen if you use the TechShop's screens because you need to give it back at the end of the session, so it's not reusable.
  • Vinyl cutting by hand is even hand has all the disadvantages of vinyl cutting by machine, but with the added pain that you have to cut the vinyl yourself.
Why another silkscreen instructable?

This is a method that creates a screen that is:
  • reusable
  • durable
  • takes only minutes to create from any artwork
  • can support any islands and even full grayscale halftoning
  • uses way less ink than a standard screen (probably about the same per print, but filling the screen only fills the areas of printing)
  • so fast and easy, you'd be happy to do it for only 1 shirt!
The secret is, like so many other cool things you can do at the TechShop, the laser cutter of course.  Jeanie, The Instructor for the TechShop laser class gave us the original idea:  print at 75 DPI and the laser will create a connected latticework of dots, no matter the grayscale or islands.    It works like a charm!

Tools Required
  • Epilog Laser cutter/engraver.  Other varieties may work fine too. 
  • Silkscreen printing station (optional -- I did it at home for what you see here)
  • 9" Silkscreen squeegee (actually, I used a 6" $0.50 squeegee from Tap Plastics)
  • Corel Photo-Paint.  (Can just as easily be done with Photoshop, but instructions here are for Photo-Paint)
  • Custom silkscreen frame.  I just cut out a frame from 1" MDF using a table saw and scroll saw. (the 15 minutes does not include build time for the frame...)
Materials Required
  • 2 mil Mylar sheet.  I got this from Tap Plastics.  They also have 5 mil mylar, but that didn't work.  The 2 mil stuff comes on a roll and is about $1.50/foot (24" width).  Get 5 or 10 feet and you can make a lot of screens :-)
  • water based silkscreen paint
  • tape
TechShop SBUs required:
  • Laser Cutter SBU
  • Silkscreen SBU (optional -- the prints you see here were done at my home without using the silkscreen station)
  • Wood shop (optional -- if you make the from some other way, you don't need the woodshop)
You make this anywhere that you can get access to the tools, but I made this at TechShop!

 
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DIY-Guy1 year ago
CCRome, nice instrucable. Very inspiring!
"
The Instructor for the TechShop laser class gave us the original idea:  print at 75 DPI and the laser will create a connected latticework of dots,"

Would it be possible to update this 'ible with a closeup image of these connected dots?
That would be so groovy to see the latticework!
ccrome (author)  DIY-Guy1 year ago
Ask and ye shall get a scan of my screen. Now check the last step of this instructable
quick_silk_scan.bmpquick_silk_dot_misalignment.bmp
DIY-Guy1 year ago
Amazing, you even gave scale information with the close up!
I do see some difference between the spacing of the horizontal lines.
Do we know if this is an artifact of the gearing system driving the laser head?

(This may be a question for the manufacturer but-)
I understand the output is limited by the quality (and expense) of the machine, can the spot size be programmed to be smaller? Tinier spots could make for closer dots.

Lastly, where do I vote for this one?
ccrome (author)  DIY-Guy1 year ago
I'm not sure exactly what causes the variation in row spacing. Maybe since the laser head alternates location (left-right) as it advances forward, the thing doesn't advance perfectly parallel.

There are other lenses you can buy that produce smaller spot sizes, but we only get the 2.5" focal length.

I don't see that you can vote. You can click 'favorite', and subscribe, but no vote I think. When there is voting it's in the top right of the page.