How To Make A Screen Printing Frame
Screen printing is an affordable and customisable method of printing custom designs on fabric, paper, and other flat items. It can be done at home, and it can be used to print short to medium sized print runs. There’s no need for expensive digital printers and, as well as being able to buy screens and frames readymade, you can also create your own reusable frames using wood and a few basic tools. Alternatively, you can buy a stretcher canvas and replace the canvas with the mesh of your choice.
Screen Printing Frames
Buying readymade screens enables you to choose from a selection of materials. Wood is a popular choice because it can be reused numerous times before it needs replacing but is cheap. Aluminium screens, however, are longer lasting, are less likely to have gaps and other malformities, and they are lightweight so are easy to use and reuse.
If you are making your own, it is likely that you will be making the screen from wood. Wood offers several benefits, especially in the early stages of screen printing. It is ideal if you are on a low budget. It can also be used to create any size of frame, which means that you can create frames for printing any size design on any size of product.
For all of its benefits, however, wood does have a number of inherent problems associated with it. Wood is not as sturdy as aluminium. Even the initial stretching of the mesh over the frame can lead to bowing and warping, while continued use will cause further structural damage to your frame. You might find it necessary to take the screen apart and rebuild it, and it is unlikely that you will get continued use out of the wood.
Make Your Own Screen Printing Frame
The screen needs to be a little larger than the design that you’re creating. This allows you to easily print your image on any surface without the danger of ink running over the side of the design and onto the garment.
Modifying Stretcher Canvases
Check local art and craft supply stores for cheap stretcher canvases. Remove the canvas and any staples that are used to hold the canvas on the wood.
Once you have done this, stretch your chosen mesh over the frame and staple it firmly in place.
The mesh needs to be stretched tightly, because any creases and kinks will have a detrimental effect on the finished design. The mesh will crease up as you push the squeegee over the design, and the stencil will move around. Even a small amount of slack can cause an unwanted blurred effect on the image.
Starting From Scratch
Alternatively, you can create your own frame from scratch, too. Cut four pieces of wood to length. The opposite sides of the frame need to be the same size. If you are unsure of what size frame to make start with a frame that is around 12” long and 9” wide. It doesn’t matter if the screen frame size is not standard, as long as it is large enough to contain your design stencil.
Fixing The Corners
Glue the corners of the wood together and screw the ends tightly into place.
The combination of glue and screws not only ensures that the wood frame is firm and stable, but it also helps create a tight bond that will prevent ink from getting through the frame when you are printing.
Stretch The Mesh
Once the glue has dried on your frame, you can attach the mesh. Once again, you must ensure that the mesh is pulled tightly around the frame. If you have clamps, clamp the mesh in place while you attach it to the edge of the frame using strong staples.
The strength and rigidity of the frame is important. Whether you choose to convert a stretcher canvas, or build a frame from scratch, the wood needs to be rigid enough that it will last. If you are using an old picture frame from the loft or garage, you will need to make sure that it is not too badly damaged.
Buy Frames And Frame Materials From Screenstretch Ltd
At Screenstretch Ltd we sell premade frames at competitive prices, and we stock both wood and aluminium frames. We also sell the mesh that you will need in order to turn your frame into a silk screen, and we stock a wide variety of mesh sizes. Once your frame is built, we also stock everything you will need, ranging from squeegees and squeegee blades, to emulsion and paint. Alternatively, if you want to see whether screen printing is for you, we also sell basic kits that include everything you need to start a hobby or business in screen printing.