How to coat a screen? Have you typed that into your browser a few times already? Why is it that so many things in life that seem relatively simple at first glance can be such a royal pain in the posterior? You’ve watched the online videos and seen how to coat a screen, seemingly effortlessly, but when it comes right down to it, you find it an ongoing challenge to get consistent and even results. Oh the frustration of it all!
If you have read our blog article on How To Coat A Screen For Maximum Effect, you are hopefully already producing vastly superior screens to many of your competitors. If you have not read it, do put it on your to do list – you won’t regret it. In the former article we explored why you obtain better screens with proper levels of emulsion over mesh (EOM) and we also explored The Shine Method of screen coating and compared it to other traditional screen coating procedures.
In this article however, we want to focus more on the physical coating technique.
How To Coat A Screen: The “Popular” Technique
Step 1: Finish your Weetabix, you will need it!
Step 2: Find a sturdy bench to perch a screen on or get down on your haunches on the floor. If you do the latter beware of loss of balance. Your swanky hoodie may look less cool with a big dollop of emulsion on, unless it is a really cool colour of course 😉
Step 3: Hold the screen down firmly onto the floor or bench with one hand, tilting it back at a slight angle
Step 4: Offer up the scoop coater to the bottom of the mesh, tip it forward until the emulsion touches the mesh and pressing the scoop coater firmly to the screen, move it up in an even stroke.
When coating your screen, you can’t afford to stop midway through, so it is essential to get your positioning bang on or you will have to start over. This little exercise has to be repeated multiple times and on both sides of the screen. It may seem quite simple, but it is not easy to do it properly. Please see the article on How To Coat A Screen For Maximum Effect to reason on why we suggest the best method is the The Shine Method, which normally amounts to around 3 + 2 coats.
There is no small amount of effort involved in this screen coating technique and even the strongest man will be unable to get consistent pressure and an even application each time around across the entire screen surface. Unless you are 6’ or taller and in the gym pumping iron several times a week, your chances of creating a high quality screen in this way will be even more limited.
Yet this is the method used by so many printers that it leaves you wondering why such an important part of the screen printing process is so neglected. Failing to get a high quality screen leads to many problems and of course lost profits, down the line. On the other hand, the ability to coat a screen evenly and consistently time after time will make a big difference to your profitability.
What Determines Your Success In Coating A Screen?
As stated in our previous blog article mentioned earlier, there are some basic variables that will determine your success when it comes to learning how to coat a screen. Here is a quick recap –
- Travel speed of the coater
- Angle of the coating trough relative to the screen
- Pressure of coating trough to screen
- Fill level of the coating trough
- Coating trough edge profile
There are quite a few things to think about on this list without worrying about holding the screen with just one hand on a surface that may not be the right working height for you. So what do you do?
Get Some Help - A Second Pair Of Hands
Here is a good idea if you have a spare set of hands in your shop. Get someone to come and hold the screen for you while you coat it. It may not solve all your problems, but at least you get to use both your hands.
But what if you have to do it all alone? You may be a small business with no employees or if you are working in a bigger business, the manager may not take very kindly to you needing another person to neglect their duties to help you out.
The Solution To Your Screen Coating Headaches
It makes a lot more sense to utilise a rack to hold your screen. This rack should be mounted at a height that suits you and allows you to work fast and efficiently using both your hands, thereby allowing you to concentrate on the other important issues at hand.
Vastex has designed a screen coating rack that will solve the headaches of small and medium sized screen printers alike. The clever wall-mounted C100 manual screen coating rack can quickly and easily be adjusted to suit the height of the person coating screens and can hold screens of 23” (60 cm), 28” (70 cm), 31” (80 cm) or 36” (90 cm) length. All adjustments are quick and easy with no tools required. If you do not wish to mount the C100 to a wall, a stand is also available, but we highly recommend the wall mounted version.
The C1000 semi-automatic screen coating rack takes things to the next level by giving the operator even less to worry about. The semi-automatic screen coater moves the screen up and down and offers adjustable speed. Once set, the operator only has to concentrate on applying the scoop coater to the mesh at a suitable angle and applying a suitable pressure. Watch our demo video to see it in operation.
It Doesn’t Have To Take Years To Learn
With the right equipment and training a complete novice could learn how to coat a screen like a pro in no time at all. Here is proof of that in the form of feedback from Greg Kitson at Mind’s Eye Graphics –
“We evaluated the Vastex C-1000 semi-automatic screen coating rack in one of our screen making workshops. The C-1000 looked like a well-engineered solution to fill the gap between manual coating and high-end fully automatic coaters costing tens of thousands of dollars, so we decided to put it to the test in our operation.
Quite honestly our experienced screen makers could coat faster with our current lean it on the table manual method, but we gave the C-1000 a test. We asked several participants in our PROScreen workshop to give it a try and within a few minutes each was able to evenly and professionally coat emulsion like they had been doing it for years.
After that experience we decided to keep the C-1000 as a permanent part of our screen making loop. Our 25 year veteran screen maker who has hand coated a couple of hundred thousand screens now uses it on a daily basis.
When the time comes to train additional staff members to coat screens I feel confident the Vastex C-1000 will allow them to quickly prepare screens to our exacting standards.”