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How Tape is Used in Screen Printing

April 28, 2020 2 min read

Let’s Talk Tape

Why tape a screen?
  • Screens are taped to block out open mesh and keep ink from going through the open mesh onto your shirt.

When do should a screen be taped off?
  • After you have exposed the screen, washed it out and dried it.
  • During your print run, you may tape a portion of the screen off that is no longer being used.

Where is a screen taped?
  • around the edge of the emulsion (top of screen)
  • over additional stencils you may have burned onto your screen (top of screen)
  • over registration marks (bottom of screen)
  • over pinholes (bottom of screen)

Which tape should I use?
  • Low adhesive - your tape should not leave adhesive on the screen after you remove it.
  • High adhesive tape can leave gunk on your screen, and It can also peel emulsion off your screen when you remove it.
  • Chemical Resistant - the tape should hold up to light amounts of press wash, etc.

Tips
  • Don’t tape your screen on the top of your stencil too close to your imprint area. During print production, your squeegee will start to peel the tape up from repeatedly hitting it.
  • For the same reason, tape registration marks and center lines on the bottom of your screen.
  • Create your registration marks all in a straight line so they can be blocked off with one piece of tape.
  • When applying tape to your screen, leave a folded tab at the end to make it easy to grab onto and remove.
  • Don’t go too crazy with the tape. It is usually not necessary and an additional cost.

Tape alternatives
Blockout
  • Blockout is usually a water based liquid that is applied onto the screen and dried to block out open mesh in the screen.
  • It is usually used on pinholes, but can be used around the edges of the emulsion as well.

Liquid Tape is generally not favored as a tape replacement around the edge of the screen since ink can get buried deeply between the mesh and the screen frame, making it difficult to get out.


Liquid Tape
  • Liquid tape is usually a permanent application used to mask off the edges of a screen frame, instead of tape. While liquid tape seems to work for some screen printers, there are 2 sizable drawbacks. 1 - ink still gets buried in the crevice between the screen frame and mesh, and 2, when the screen is pressure washed during the reclaiming process, water shoots back at the person reclaiming the screen.