Flat Screen Printing Machine: How Does It Work

By Oscarjack 6 Min Read

People often use flat screen printing to put pictures on flat things like metal, glass, fabric, and paper. Flat screen printing machines are specialized machines used for this process. These tools are very useful in areas that need to print accurately and well. You can learn more about flat screen printing machines.

Components of a Flat Screen Printing Machine

Screen Frame: The frame of the screen is usually made of aluminum or steel, and it holds up the mesh.

Mesh: The mesh is stretched over the frame very tightly. It is usually made of polyester or stainless steel. Size of the picture is based on the mesh count, which is the number of threads per inch.

Stencil/Emulsion: An emulsion or stencil that reacts to light is put on the mesh. It shows the gaps that ink can go through when writing.

Squeegee: This is a plastic blade that is used to move the ink from the screen to the base. Squeegees, which can be one or two-sided, are very important for controlling how thick and evenly the ink covers the surface.

Printing Bed: When you want to print on something, you put it on the printing bed, which is a flat surface.

Printing Table: The table keeps the substrate in place and makes sure it stays stable while the picture is being made.

Ink Tray or Trough: An ink tray or trough is a device that holds the ink and lets the squeegee pick it up and spread it out evenly on the screen.

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How does it Work?

The printing method of flat screen printing is often used to put designs on flat materials like cloth, paper, glass, metal, and more. A flat screen is used to move the ink to the substrate during the process. A flat screen printing machine works in the following ways:

Preparation of Screen:

  • A tiny mesh is stretched tightly over a frame to make a screen. Most of the time, rayon or stainless steel is used to make the mesh.
  • The screen is then covered with a film that reacts to light.

Design Preparation:

On a clear film or a digital file, the drawing or picture that you want is made. For the printing process, this pattern is used as a guide.

Exposure:

  • The film or digital file with the design is put on top of the screen that has the covered emulsion on it.
  • When the mixture is put in light, the emulsion hardens where the light hits the clear parts of the design. The areas that aren’t hit by light stay soft and can dissolve in water.

Washing and Developing:

  • After washing the screen, the soft, not-exposed parts of the emulsion are scraped off, leaving an image on the screen.
  • The screen is washed and then left to dry.

Printing Setup:

  • The base, like cloth or paper, is put on a flat printing bed under the screen.
  • The stencil is looking down on the screen, which is placed on top of the substrate.

Ink Application:

  • On top of the screen, ink is put down.
  • To make the ink cover the whole screen evenly, a squeegee is used to push it through the cutout and onto the base below.
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Curing:

  • When the printing is done, the base is often dried or cured to make the ink last forever. Depending on the type of ink used, this can be done with UV curing, heat curing, or some other way.

Repeat Process:

  • For patterns with more than one color, the steps are done again for each color. For each color layer, a different screen with a different background is used.

Flat screen printing is flexible and can be done on many different types of materials. On the other hand, its most often linked to printing on textiles, like T-shirts. 

Different kinds of flat screen printers

Manual Flat Screen Printing Machines: Manual flat screen printing machines can be used for small-scale or special printing and are run by hand.

Semi-Automatic Flat Screen Printing Machines: Semi-automatic flat screen printing machines have both human and automatic functions. They are usually used for medium-level production.

Automatic Flat Screen Printing Machines: These are fully automatic machines that can print a lot of items quickly and accurately.

Advantages of Flat Screen Printing

  • Flexible for a range of surfaces.
  • Prints that are of good quality and last a long time.
  • It works for both short and long print runs.
  • Great for big, flat surfaces.

Conclusion

Flat screen printing machines play a big part in the printing business. To fully understand their role, it’s helpful to know about their perks, parts, and different types. People like these tools because they can print on flat surfaces quickly, easily, and with lots of color.

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