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Reclaiming Screens

               Reclaiming Screens

Reclaiming screens involves removing the ink and emulsion (or stencil as it
is called when capillary film) from the screen.  Most shops find this

a very undesirable task and end up with ghost images in the screen.  Follow
the procedure recommended below, and the task is pleasant, easy, fast and without
the ghost problem.

First, use the squeegee to mechanically scrape as much ink out of the screen as possible.  That
ink should be placed in a separate container like a margarine container and
marked with the mix of the ink for use in the future. 
 
Second, the screen should be laid in a horizontal position with the print side up (that is the side that
was touching the garment).  Spray stencil remover like Ulano #4 on the
screen.  In two minutes the emulsion will melt like ice turning to water.  Just
never let the stencil remover dry on the screen, because if it does,  you
will never get it out of the screen.  Stand the screen up vertically in
the sink or wash out booth, and scrub lightly with a plastic bristle brush
you buy at the grocery store for pots and pans.  That further loosens
any emulsion in the knuckle of the mesh.  Run water down the print side
of the screen, but without any water pressure.  The stencil will go down
the drain.  When the emulsion (stencil) is completely gone, go to the
third step.

Spray the citrus or soy based liquid on the ink side of the screen, and wipe the ink
from the screen.  Do this with two wipe cloths and throw them in the garbage.  Then
spray a third time, and then scrub lightly with a plastic bristle scrub brush
purchased from the grocery store that is dedicated for use only removing ink
from screens.  Scrub both sides of the screen.  Then flush the screen
with water.  Trace quantities of ink will go down the drain where they
can be trapped with a filter like those 1-5 micron furnace filters sold by
the hardware store.  The screen should now be completely clean.

Capillary film is easier to reclaim than liquid emulsion, because of the two ply structure
where the stencil is not as embedded in the mesh as liquid emulsion is.  Tight
screens that are re-tensioned between jobs until the mesh is work hardened
(500 prints or more and numerous re-tensionings) reclaim easier.  If the
glass on the exposure unit gets hot, the emulsion can be baked into the mesh
and difficult to remove.  Any chemical put on ink in a screen can cause
the emulsion to lock up in the screen and be very difficult to remove.  The
worst chemical is mineral spirits.  Regardless of recommendations by ink
manufacturers and others, never use mineral spirits in a screen.  If the
screen has ink or emulsion that is difficult to remove, it is called haze when
the holes in the mesh are blocked.  When the holes are not blocked, but
you can see the image, that is a ghost.  In either case, there are biodegradable
d-hazing products. 

For a demonstration, see the video:

“Reclaiming Screens”

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