Did you know that drying your screen once it’s been coated with emulsion is critical to the printing process? It’s a step that’s often overlooked but is so important for a successful print. Here we dive into why it’s important, how to do it properly, and how long it takes for emulsion to dry.
Why it's critical your emulsion is dry before you start printing:
- Wet emulsion will not expose properly, and you will not get a clean crisp image
- A wet screen can cause emulsion to break down prematurely on the press
How to dry emulsion on a screen:
Here are two methods that can be used to dry wet emulsion before exposing:
- DIY Drying Cabinet – Most printers will have a screen rack with a cover, or a DIY cabinet that is dark and dust-free. Your screens will air dry naturally at room temperature. We suggest investing in a small, inexpensive fan to circulate air flow inside the cabinet.
- Commercial Drying Cabinet – These should max out at around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal drying temperature for your coated screen is between 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit with low humidity. Commercial drying cabinets are uncommon, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, the temperature-controlled space helps speed up the drying process. These units run anywhere from $2,000 - $5,000
Once you’ve identified your dry method above and your screen is coated and degreased, place it horizontally with the print side down to dry. Let gravity help you here by making a thicker stencil for your design.
You want to make sure the screen is dry because how dry it is will determine how your emulsion cures. A wet screen can cause the emulsion to break down prematurely on the press.
How long does emulsion take to dry?
We suggest letting emulsion dry overnight this is usually the appropriate amount of time and then some. Emulsion can not be wet before exposing, so it doesn’t hurt to give yourself more than enough time to ensure the screen is perfectly dry.
*Note that humidity will affect dry time. The more humid, the longer it will take to dry.
We really can not stress this point enough: wet emulsion is a no go, don’t do it, don’t waste your money and time.
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