Dip Tank for Dummies - Screen Print Direct

Screen printing dip tanks are affordable pieces of equipment that can greatly benefit any printer with a limited budget, floor space, and time. Dip Tanks can help you achieve two core functions in your shop, reclaiming and developing. The compact construction makes them great for small shops that need to be resourceful with every square foot.

At Screen Print Direct® we get a lot of questions when it comes to dip tanks and we get it, dip tanks can be confusing. Have you found yourself wondering how long to leave screens in the tank when developing? How long when reclaiming? Maybe you’re asking yourself what “developing” and “reclaiming” even mean. If this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place! Here we’ll explain both in detail and walk you through the process. Let’s dive in!

What is Reclaiming?

In screen printing, reclaiming is the process of completely cleaning your screen after printing so it can be used again for a new print. This process removes ink and the emulsion stencil off the mesh of your frame.

A washout booth or a dip tank can be used to reclaim. Below we discuss how to reclaim with a dip tank.

Reclaiming with a Dip Tank

To start reclaiming a screen, you’ll need a 2-in-1 emulsion and ink remover chemical and water to put in your dip tank. We recommend Ecotex® Screen Printing Dip Tank Solution to get the most out of the reclaiming process. Your dip tank and dip tank solution should come with instructions and fill levels. Typically, the solution needs to be diluted 10:1 with water. For example, 30 gallons of water requires 3 gallons of dip tank solution. *However please heed to the instruction given on your purchased dip tank and dip tank solution.

When reclaiming, remove as much ink as possible before dunking the screen into the dip tank filled with Dip Tank SolutionAlso, be sure to remove any tape if any was used on the screen. Next, let the screen sit for a couple of minutes. The goal is to allow the chemical to loosen the ink and emulsion, not to fully remove it in the tank. 

A common question we receive in regards to reclaiming is chemical longevity. How long will your chemical last? The number of screens you place in the dip tank and how long you leave the screens in the tank are factors that affect the chemical’s lifespan. By letting the ink and emulsion fall off in the tank, the chemical’s life span shortens, because it remains active while attacking the ink and the emulsion particles.

It’s like a bear hibernating in the winter. The 2-in-1 chemical hibernates while there isn’t any emulsion or ink to attack. By not letting the emulsion and ink break down in the dip tank, you can extend the life of your chemical.

What is the developing process in screen printing?

It is the beginning process of screen-printing. It is the creation of art that is then transferred into a stencil to be printed onto a medium such as a t-shirt or a poster. The steps include:

  1. Choosing artwork
  2. Printing a quality film positive
  3. Exposing Emulsion with the film positive
  4. Washing out the image to create a stencil

A dip tank is used in the last part of this process; washing out the image.

How to use a Dip Tank to Develop a Screen:

When reclaiming with a dip tank you will need a cleaning chemical added to the water. When developing you just need a tank full of water.

To develop, let your screen soak in the tank after you complete your exposure. Let it soak for a few minutes and take it over to the washout booth to finish washing the screen to reveal your image. That’s it!


Let's Talk 

Remember, we are here to help! Drop a comment below or email our support team at info@screenprintdirect.com