FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What size frame do I need?

Plastisol or Water Based INK?

Why is the Plastisol so thick?

How do I select the correct mesh count for my job?

I use 10XX. Which monofilament do I need?

How do I use the scoop coater to apply emulsion?

What do I do if my order arrives damaged?

Why should I use blockout tape?

What is your return policy?

Do new screens need to be cleaned before use

There is a small glue spot on the mesh

Two frames were stuck together in the box.

What tension do you stretch at?

How long should I expose the screen?

Can you restretch frames from other manufacturers?

Are your products guaranteed?

What size squeegee and coater do I need?

What can cause the mesh to slip off the screen?

Why am I having trouble reclaiming? The old emulsion won’t come off the screen.

What size frame do I need?

Frame size is determined by the size of your image. Generally, you take the image size and add approximately 6-8 inches. That gives you the inside measurement of the frame. You then add the thickness of the frame bar. (Don’t forget to double this measurement, you have two sides on the frame) This gives you the minimum size frame for your job.

Next, look on our size chart and pick the best match. This is the most economical way to size a frame. If you require an exact custom size we can, of course, manufacture any size for you. Example: Image is 12" x 16" add 6" to each measurement, you get 18" x 22".

Add 3_" for two frame bars, you get 21_" x 25_". Result: You can use a stock 21x27 or a 23x31 if you want a little more room. See our frame selection page Here

Plastisol or Water Based INK?

Plastisol is used by most Pro T-Shirt printers because of it's higher opacity
and open time on the screens but you need to cure the shirt at 305 degrees for 90 seconds
for the ink to dry. That means you need a dryer or flash cure unit.
And solvents to clean up. Plastisol tend to sit "on" the garment and can feel rubbery if heavy

We highly recommend heat curing for water based textiles at the same time/temp as plastisol ink. This will greatly increase wash fastness. Adding the included catalyst will give the ultimate wash fastness but catalysed in has limited pot life of ~24 hours.


Why is the Plastisol ink so thick?

Plastisol ink will develop "false body" in the can and appear too thick. The ink must be mixed vigorously before judging it's true thickness. Plastisol will loosen even more on the press. So don't judge your ink as it comes in the can. Many inks will benefit from the addition of additives. Use extender/soft hand to get more transparent ink or a softer hand. Use reducer to adjust viscocity without losing opacity.

How do I select the correct mesh count for my job?

Mesh counts range from 16 lines per inch up to more than 400 lines per inch. Here are some general guidelines for mesh selection.

Glitter and metallic inks - Usually 16-60 check with ink supplier. VF glitter works well with 40 mesh. VF Metallics work well with 110 mesh

T-Shirts, Standard designs on light colored shirts - 110 to 195

T-Shirts, Multi colored fine designs — 156-230

T-Shirts, Light colors on dark shirts — 60-110

T-Shirts, Process Color - Number of lines per inch on the artwork x 4 — 230-305

(T shirt artwork is usually made at 45-65 lines per inch) example: 55 line artwork x 4 = 220 (230 mesh is good)

Nylon Jackets — 156-195

Signs on metal- 195-230

Paper, wood, plastics — 195-355

Please call for further information 800-255-5335

I use 10XX. Which monofilament do I need?

XX is a designation of strength that was used when Silk Screen Printing actually used silk. This was carried over to multifilament polyester when it began to replace silk. Today Monofilament polyester is by far the most popular mesh used in screen printing. The approximate equivalents are: 6XX = 60-83 8XX= 76-92 10XX= 92-123 12XX= 123-175 14XX= 156-195 16XX= 195

How do I use the scoop coater to apply emulsion?

The Victory Factory scoop coater is designed to allow even application of liquid emulsion to screens. First, degrease the screen with VF Degreaser. Dry the screen taking care not to allow dust or dirt to adhere to the screen. This is critical to avoid pinholes. Next, Hols the screen by hand or lean the screen against the sink back or wall in a near vertical position. Pour a small amount of emulsion into the coater. Apply the emulsion to the printing (substrate) side of the screen first. Place the coater along the bottom of the screen, lean the coater up against the screen until the angled plastic sides come up against the screen. (Try the rounded side of the coater for best results.) Now, slowly but smoothly bring the coater up the screen to the top. Lean the coater back and scoop it off the screen with a short, quick swipe. Don’t worry about small blobs of emulsion at the top, bottom or sides of the screen, you won’t be printing there anyway. Now, turn the screen around and apply another coat to the squeegee side of the screen. One —two coats are usually ok for most work, more can be applied if desired but always apply the last coat to the squeegee side because you want more emulsion below the screen on the print side and less on the squeegee side. After coating, place the screen in a horizontal position with the squeegee side facing up. If you don’t have a drying cabinet, you can use a clean cardboard box. You must avoid light and dust contamination while the screen is drying. The screen must be completely dry before exposure.

What do I do if my order arrives damaged?

If your order arrives with obvious damage to the packing material, do not sign for it. Open the box and examine the contents. If nothing is damaged inside the box, you’re ok. If there is damage that obviously occurred in shipping, you should refuse delivery or sign fot the delivery as "Damaged".

Call us immediately and we will do our best to help rectify the situation. If there is damage that is not apparent when the order is delivered, you must call us within 1-2 days of delivery. We will arrange for return and repair or replacement of the damaged or defective goods.

Why should I use blockout tape?

Blockout tape should be used to cover the edges of your frame, both inside and outside. This not only protects the uncoated edges of your screen, but it prevents ink and solvents from getting to the frame and glued area. Make sure the tape is applied to both sides of the mesh. Tape applied to only one side of the mesh will not hold up as well.

What is your return policy?

Any product may be returned if it is unused within 14 days of delivery. Please call 800-255-5335 if you have any specific return questions. We take customer service very seriously and will do whatever we can to help.

Do new screens need to be cleaned before use?

We recommend cleaning screens with VF Degreaser or Ulano #23 before coating. This removes any dirt, grease or contamination that may be on the mesh from the manufacturing process.

Glue spot on screen

If your screen arrives with a small glue spot on the mesh, this can be removed by using the corner of a clean squeegee as an eraser. Rub the spot gently and it will come off. Acetone can also be used to clean small glue spots on the screen.

Two frames were stuck together in the box.

Don’t panic! This happens occasionally. Take the frames out of the box together. Do not pull them apart, rather, tap them on the floor gently at a slight angle. This should separate the stuck frames without damage.

What tension do you stretch at?

We stretch our frames at the following basic tensions:

16 — 195 mesh - 27 newtons

230 mesh - 24 newtons

240-305 mesh - 21 newtons

330-470 mesh - 20 newtons

Stretching tension and printing tension are different. The tension on your screen at the press will be the stretching tension, less the natural loss of tension due to frame bar deflection after stretching. See the discussion below.

Tension is a very interesting (and hotly debated) topic in our industry. The best tension for screen printing (measured in Newtons) varies with the mesh count, frame size, frame material and substrate. All frames are not able to support the same amount of tension. All mesh counts cannot be stretched the same. Every printing situation doesn’t require the same tension. Our philosophy on tension is based on 35 years of screen production in the real world of printing and may differ from some pundit’s concepts, which are sometimes based on ideal conditions and laboratory testing which do not necessarily translate to real world situations.

Observations on screens and screen tension by Victory Factory:

  1. Wood frames (static) lose the most tension after stretching due to deflection of the frame bars. They are also the most inexpensive to purchase and to store in a screen library for later use. Further, they can be produced quickly in exact shapes and sizes to fit any printing setup. Although they can last many years in good storage conditions, they are still wood and can warp and change due to humidity and other environmental factors.
  2. Aluminum frames (static) can hold 2-5 newtons more tension than wood depending on frame profile. They tend to stabilize at a higher retained tension after use. They will not warp and are unaffected by moisture.
  3. Roller frames and other retensionable frames hold the highest tension due to their ability to be retensioned after use. Roller frames, although they also suffer from some degree of frame bar deflection, achieve the highest tension because they can be tightened between uses. Roller frames can be tricky to stretch evenly. The mesh must be placed evenly in each roller to achieve an even stretch. They are the most expensive frames but can be restretched on site. They are also heavier than static frames and require some type of dam to prevent ink from traveling to the rollers. Although they are capable, theoretically, of very high tensions in the central area of the screen, the tension drops off near the edges and sides and does not always give a consistent tension across the entire screen.
  4. Large frames hold less tension than small frames due to being progressively more and more under engineered as they get larger. To illustrate this point, start with an 18"x20" frame made from 1-1/2" stock. Imagine what size frame stock you would use on a frame that measures 48"x96". To achieve the same relative strength as the 18"x20" frame you would need about 6"-10" wide frame bars! This would make the frame very heavy and almost impossible to use. So, traditionally, large format frames have more deflection than small frames and can not hold the same tension.
  5. Finally, we believe that there is a good use for all three basic types of frames in the modern screen printing shop. It is up to the printer to decide which frame is best for each situation.

How long should I expose the screen?

It depends. It is useful to remember that screen exposure means the amount of light and the type of light that the screen gets, not the exposure time. Screen exposure is different for every setup. Some of the factors that greatly affect your particular correct exposure are listed below:

  1. The type of light you have.
  2. The distance from the screen to the light
  3. Color of mesh. Dyed mesh can take up to 50% longer to expose.
  4. Color of stencil. See #3.
  5. Type of stencil. Some emulsions expose faster than others due to color or formulation.
  6. Thickness of coating.
  7. Mesh count. The lower the mesh count, the more emulsion it holds. Therefore, longer exposure.
  8. Remember the golden rule of exposure: Perfect exposure is the best, but slight over exposure is better than under exposure, so when in doubt, give it a bit more time. Under exposure can lead to reclaiming problems. Don't go to press immediately after exposing and washing out a screen. Give the stencil time to dry and harden.

Because of all these factors, every screen exposure system MUST BE CALIBRATED. Whether it is a $50,000 high tech setup or you are running outside and holding the screen up to the sun. (Don’t laugh it works!)

Calibration, in this case, means that you find an exposure time that gives you a good screen on your setup and you retain those settings. Any change to time, emulsion, mesh count, distance from light source etc. will change your exposure time. You can use our Exposure Calculator to test your screen exposure. This is a piece of film that is placed on the screen and exposed along with the artwork. After washout, you can read correct exposure from the patterns on the calculator.

Can you restretch frames from other manufacturers?

Yes. We will be happy to restretch any flat, sound screen. Restretching prices are the same for wood, aluminum or steel. Frames returned to us for restretching must be clean. All old mesh and wet plastisol ink must be removed. We will resurface if necessary and restretch to original tension with the mesh of your choice. There is a cleaning charge for screens returned uncleaned. We do not restretch roller frames. (That’s your job!) Call 800-255-5335 if you have any question regarding our restretching policy.

Are your products guaranteed?

Any product purchased from Victory Factory can be returned within 14 days of delivery if found to be defective. If you have any questions regarding our return policy, call 800-255-5335.

What size squeegee and scoop coater do I need?

Coaters are usually sized to be approximately 1" less than the inside measurement of the short side of the screen. Most printers like to coat as close to the edge of the screen as possible. This reduces the amount of liquid blockout or blockout tape needed to seal the screen. Unlike coaters, Squeegees are chosen according to the size of the printed image. The squeegee should be no larger than needed for the job.

What can cause the mesh to slip off the screen?

There are three main causes of mesh slipping off the screen.

1. Printing too close to the inside edge can pull the screen off the frame. Make sure you have sufficient space around your design and use the correct size squeegee.

2. Printing too high off contact. Make sure your screen height above the print is not too high, forcing the squeegee to pull down the mesh too far.

3. Chemical interaction with the screen/frame interface. Keep inks and strong solvents such as acetone, MEK, lacquer thinner etc away from the frame. Haze removers can also remove the mesh, so use sparingly. Solvents such as mineral spirits, VF Ink Wash and water and standard emulsion removers will not affect our glue.

IMPORTANT MESH FAILURE MESSAGE:

Haze removing chemicals may contain components that keep the chemical from drying out or evaporating. This quality makes these chemicals work well, but it presents a problem if you do not wash the chemical off the screen COMPLETELY when you are finished cleaning. We recommend degreasing your screens after using these chemicals. If you leave residue of these or soy or citrus type cleaners on your screen, you run the very real risk of mesh slipping off the frame. Ironically, super fast evaporating solvents like MEK, Lacquer thinner and acetone although they are more dangerous and we do not recommend them, acually pose less of a threat to mesh because they evaporate before they can break down the mesh/frame bond. Please use degreaser to wash your screens before storage. Wash the frame too, not just the mesh!!

If you have any questions about mesh failure in your shop, please contact us by phone as soon as you notice a problem. We can help, it's usually a simple adjustment to your cleaning process that is needed. 800-255-5335

Why am I having trouble reclaiming? The old emulsion won’t come off the screen.

 

Many things can cause reclaiming trouble. The most common cause, however, is underexposure of the screen and/or under cured emulsion. If the emulsion is not completely dry before exposure, the soft, wet emulsion remains inside the dried outside surface like a sandwich. This uncured emulsion will react with inks, solvents and other chemicals during the printing process and chemically lock onto the screen. This will make it very hard to reclaim the screen later. Other factors that promote easy reclaiming are proper exposure and cleaning the ink completely and then removing the ink wash with degreaser.

Also, if you are having trouble reclaiming and see early breakdown of the stencil, you are probably underexposing. Try Post Exposing your screens:

Expose normally, wash out as usual, dry and then put the screen back on the exposure light again (without the artwork) this post exposing step will serve to harden the emulsion completely for a longer lasting stencil that will reclaim more easily. You can also just leave the screen in daylight for a few hours or in the bright sun for a few minutes. If you take a screen directly from exposure to the press, you run the risk of poor reclaiming later. Make sure your screen is hard before printing.