How to Silk Screen




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In this instructable you'll learn how to silk screen! Silk screening is a fun and fairly easy process to transfer an image to the surface of your choosing.

Courtesy of Megan Overman

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

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Step 1: 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

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

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

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

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

Step 6: 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.

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    31 Discussions


    2 years ago

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


    3 years ago

    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

    13 years ago on Step 6

    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.

    2 replies
    sharpstemsVon Klaus

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    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.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    7 years ago on Introduction

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


    8 years ago on Step 4

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


    9 years ago on Introduction

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


    12 years ago on Step 1

    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

    1 reply

    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.


    11 years ago on Introduction

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


    12 years ago on Step 2

    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


    13 years ago on Step 1

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

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago

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


    12 years ago

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