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The best screen printing screens includes Newman frames.  When mesh is stretched to the
maximum tension just short of breaking, and then left untouched, the mesh will
lose 25% of its tension within 2 hours.  After that, the mesh will continue
to lose more tension, but more slowly.  If the mesh is glued to the frame
like a wood or aluminum frame, then there is no way to re-tension the mesh.  The
Newman frames are made from aluminum tubes that are rotated.  So after
the two hours the tubes are rotated to recover the lost tension and to raise
the tension a little higher.  After that first re-tension, we wait 4 hours
when the tension has dropped 15% to tension again.  Then the next morning
the tension will have dropped 5% and we tension the last time before coating
and exposing the screen. 

After we complete printing a job we reclaim the screen so we are back to a
frame with mesh, but no ink or emulsion in the screen.  Then we re-tension
the mesh to recover the lost tension and to raise the tension level again.  After
several jobs and a total of 500 prints from all the jobs, the mesh should be
dimensionally stable.  Dimensionally stable mesh is called “work

The value of work hardened mesh is that the last print of the job will look
like the first print.  Before that, depending on the level of tension
in the mesh, you could experience a lot of problems.  Examples are ink
build up under the screen that you have to periodically wipe off.  Registering
screens and holding registration during a print run are more difficult with
low tension screens.  Ink is getting smeared across the garment and bottom
of the screen with low tension screens.  Images might not look crisp with
high resolution and feel heavy on the garment. 

We have been printing for 30 years with just 12 shirt screens.  We do
not store images on screens, because the mesh is losing tension while sitting
on the shelf.

Distributors will tell you that you must buy a meter, tools, a stretching
table and more.  Don’t believe that.  All you need is the frame,
a piece of mesh, and one set of Alignment Clips.  Most people own 5/8
socket wrenches, and an open ended wrench 1-1/4” plus a flat table.  If
a mesh is not tightened perfectly, the higher tension direction in the mesh
will relax more than the low tension direction, and if tension is less than
optimal, that will be made up on subsequent tensionings.

To read more on this subject, see the following articles:

A Great Screen Saves Money
Quality Screen Prep Program

A video on the subject is:

Screen Printings Best Screen

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