Introduction: How to Silk Screen

Picture of How to Silk Screen

Courtesy of Megan Overman

Clean screen, Squeegee, Emulsion, Ink, Ttransparency (film) of image desired

Step 1: Coat Screen

Picture of Coat Screen

Coat screen with photo sensitive emulsion. This should be done in an area not well lit and while emulsion is drying keep screen out of light.

Step 2: Burn Screen

Picture of Burn Screen

Take transparency and place on outside of screen, right side down, with clear tape. Locations on screen vary due to placement on textile. Place screen in exposure unit or in direct light to expose emulsion.

Step 3: Rinse Out Image

Picture of Rinse Out Image

After emulsion has been exposed, remove transparency and take to wash out sink. Here gently rinse out entire screen- the emulsion where the image was will completely wash away as well as any excess emulsion that could run into image while drying. After rinse set screen aside to dry.

Step 4: Tape Up Screen

Picture of Tape Up Screen

Clear packing tape works best to go around the inside of screen to prevent ink from running into edges of screen which would go through and to preserve screens. At this time pin-holing is also done. Pin holing is carefully checking the screen for specs in the screen where emulsion was missed or washed out and is not part of image. Cover pin holes via block out, tape or emulsion pen.

Step 5: Set Up Screen

Picture of Set Up Screen

Take screen to press, set in, line up (t-squares work nicely) center and screw in.

Step 6: Print

Picture of Print

Take desired ink and spread across screen below image. Take squeegee (squeegee should span just slightly larger than width of image) and pull ink through screen. Best results for pulling squeegee are at a almost a straight up and down angle. A test pull should be done first to check for any discrepancies etc. Take textile and place on platen for desired placement and continue with print.

Step 7: Cure Ink

Depending on type of ink used, curing processes will differ. Be careful removing textile from platen as ink will still be wet. Set to dry or heat cure. Curing pvc (plastisol) ink generally takes 30 seconds at 320 degrees.


Braindrill (author)2017-02-12

How long should the screen be in the exposure unit? Or outside?
Just asking..

shepscrook (author)2016-02-20

I'm curious where you got the grey shirts with the different colored stitching around the neck as seen in the last image.

Von Klaus (author)2006-07-05

hold the squeegee at a 45 degree angle for best results. anyway looks awesome. i made an apple logo shirt in art class, i used freezer paper for a screen. i am very primitive when it comes to screen printing.

sharpstems (author)Von Klaus2009-07-03

Wait, you used freezer paper for the screen? Or did you use freezer paper as a stencil? If you used it for a screen, then I don't think I know what you mean by 'freezer paper'. Please explain, I'm just learning to print, if you have a good trick please let me know.

Purocuyu (author)sharpstems2012-10-01

You use freezer paper as a stencil. Freezer paper is pretty much butcher paper with plastic on one side. If you cut out your stencil, then iron on the freezer paper to a T-shirt (plastic side down), you can put the ink down, and when slightly dry, peel the paper off, and you have a single-use "silkscreen-type" shirt. There has got to be an instructable somewhere.

bhon2x (author)2012-02-03

how can i know the procedure of using the emulsion on the screen?

xBOOx (author)2010-11-28

I love akimbo!!!
such an awesome did the shirt come out?

Sandisk1duo (author)2010-01-28

How many shirts can you print with one screen(when it has emulation on it)?

yumie (author)2007-02-25

does anyone know where I can order this emulsion online in europe? I'm from Germany and I'd like to save the shipping costs. ulano seems to be sold only in US

kn03i (author)yumie2009-11-13

From what I've heard the emulsion that supplies should suffice.

eversionclothing (author)2009-03-03

another way to save some time is by cutting your motions down... many printers 'flood' the screen (cover it lightly with ink) then move the squeegee all the way to the top, pull the ink down and then put the squeegee back to the top which is 4 movements... however, what i do and it works just the same is.: 'flood' the screen, then when all the ink is at the bottom of the screen you 'push' the ink to the top of the screen with the squeegee at about 45 degrees. then for your next print the squeegee is already at the top ready to flood again... only 2 movements per print. so you are cutting your movments in half, and in bulk orders of, lets say, 400 that will save you 800, that is A LOT of time and more importantly A LOT of muscle strain.

baken411 (author)2008-09-10

quick question... where can i get screens from? preferably a store not online

mdreinitz (author)2006-12-13

I must be doing something wrong because I can't get my image to burn on screen. I put a black sheet of paper on bottom, then screen, then image, then glass. Do I need to put the printed side towards screen. If I do that, then i need to reverse the image.. Help

osh-kosh (author)2006-08-10

What's the common name of the emulsion? Can I make it? Do I buy it?

manolo (author)osh-kosh2006-12-10

Ulan QTX

Continuum (author)2006-07-08

That is the easiest (possibly not the best) method of silk screening I have seen. It was on Make a long time ago.

Wonderground (author)Continuum2006-09-27

That is way harder then the above method.

erfonz (author)Wonderground2006-11-02

harder, but way cheaper and a good start if you don't really want to buy all the chemicals right away

That is cool. But waaaaay too much work for a lazy-Daisy like myself.

jaggtmolina (author)2006-10-23

nice instructable. but how do you make multi-color screens? what mesh do you use?

Von Klaus (author)2006-07-05

you can also put the screen in the sun, for people who don't have those fancy tools.

sharkilepsy (author)Von Klaus2006-10-17

if you had read the instructions, you might have noticed that it already says that.

bitterfame (author)2006-07-05

this would be easy if we all had a silk screening studio like you do...but some of us just aren't that cool...

Wonderground (author)bitterfame2006-09-27

It is a nice set up but if you look at the text it clearly says how to do it without the facilities at her disposal. Besides silkscreening is really easy, studio is only needed if you are constantly doing it.

osh-kosh (author)bitterfame2006-08-10

Yah this is kinda ridiculous. It's not so much a 'how to' as much as a 'wouldn't you like to be like me'.

mabufo (author)bitterfame2006-07-05

reminds me of the one instructable about fixing your porsche's headrest.

Dimitrios (author)2006-08-14

Really Cool! Thanks for sharing

tracy_the_astonishing (author)2006-07-28

I just made one for printing on the cheap and at home:

MD_Willington (author)2006-07-07

Cool, I remember doing this in "Art" classes from 10th-12th grades... fun stuff.

saites2001 (author)2006-07-05

It seems pretty intresting, but I find your tutorial rather difficult to understand. Maybe I'm just stupid today . . . Nice pictures.

trebuchet03 (author)2006-07-05

wow... I did not realize that the screen was literally burned... but I guess that makes sense... cutting with a knife would take a lot of time and would probably not come out as nice...

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