Silk screen printing is a great way to efficiently decorate various materials, but mastering this complex technique takes practice. If you're new to silk screen printing, watch out for these common mistakes. In this article, we'll discuss the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Poor Registration: 

Achieving precise color registration in silk screen printing can be tricky. Poor registration can cause fuzzy or unclear screen prints. There are many types and trips for better registration, one of them being to print 1 of your colors (ideally your base) and add clear tape over the print once cured in order to be able to wipe down if the test print registration is not perfect. This will not only help with accuracy but also make corrections easier.

2. Inadequate Squeegee Technique:

The squeegee plays a crucial role in pushing ink through the stencil onto the substrate. Inconsistent speed or pressure can cause streaks or blurs. Practice with the squeegee, aiming for consistent speed and pressure throughout the entire screen when printing manually. When printing on an automatic machine, the same applies but the settings are adjusted with dials and need to be adjusted.

3. Wrong Ink Selection:

Choosing the right ink is crucial for successful silk screen printing. Some inks may not adhere properly to certain materials, resulting in faded or weak graphics. Some fabrics or inks may also require additives to work.  Consider the fabric weight, ink type, and design when selecting ink. Also, ensure you use the appropriate amount of ink for optimal image quality.

4. Insufficient Screen Preparation:

Improperly prepared silk screens can cause defects in the final product. Start by thoroughly cleaning the screen with a pressure washer to remove dirt and debris. Then, use high quality screen printing products and warm water to eliminate any remaining particles. Check the screen tension meticulously, as incorrect tension can cause hard-to-repair flaws. The last part is the emulsion application. Make sure to properly apply consistent emulsions layers on the front and back of the screen.

5. Ink Accumulation:

Incorrect squeegeeing can cause ink to accumulate in corners and pockets of the image, resulting in an uneven finish. To avoid this, apply the right amount of pressure and maintain a nice angle with the squeegee during the printing process whether you pull or push your squeegee.

6. Inadequate Drying and Curing:

Don't rush the drying process! Ink that hasn't fully dried or cured can lead to smudges and smears as well as a durability nightmare. Textile plastisol inks are not cured until they have been exposed to the proper temperature. Refer to the ink manufacturer for the proper ink curability temperature.

7. Mishandling:

Before you start printing, ensure that you are working with a clean work environment as well as making sure that you are clean from any other screen printed related tasks and inks. Some ink stains can be removed but not all stains.

By following these steps, you will be able to achieve optimal results with silk screen printing. Remember to use a high precision with registration, understand the science of using the squeegee, select the appropriate ink, prepare the screen, ensure adequate drying and curing times, and handle the material with care. With these improvements, you'll be well on your way to creating stunning prints!