How long to expose emulsion - Screen Print Direct

We receive so many questions regarding emulsion and how long to expose emulsion. Have you found yourself asking something like… “What is my exposure time with this emulsion and this light? How long should I expose this emulsion? Why won’t my light work for exposing? If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

There are a lot of factors that go into exposing a screen, and the time to expose emulsion varies depending on the project.  Here are some variables that will factor into your emulsion exposure time:

  • Ink type plastisol, water based, or UV?
  • Exposure unit
  • Are you mixing with diazo?
  • Emulsion type pre-sensitized or dual cure?
  • Light type halogen, LED, or black light?

When considering light, options range from a 500W halogen light bulb to a professional L.E.D. unit, meaning exposure time can vary from roughly 12 minutes to as quick as a few seconds, depending on your equipment.  A few more things to consider are:

  • How thick did you coat the screen with emulsion?
  • How many coats of emulsion did you use?
  • How close is the light source?
  • Are your film positives dark?
  • What color mesh are you using?

Since there is no one-size-fits-all emulsion-time solution, we highly recommend getting a stouffer calculator/step wedge test to calibrate your exposure time properly.  For your convenience, we have an easy-to-use Step Wedge here available for sale.  

This calculator is a steadfast way to ensure proper exposure times. The size of the 21 Step Wedge is 1/2" x 3 3/4" so you can place it on your screen while exposing your image without interference.

Click here for step by step directions on how to use the exposure calculator.

How to Calculate Emulsion Exposure Times with a 21 Step Wedge Calculator  

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1 comment



Is there a better emulation to use for beginners I heard that the pink emulation is better for beginners to use

Something about its good for water paints and the emulation won’t peel away from screen and it last a little longer after opened

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