ImagesMagUK-Sep18 like doing dishes forever. Coating screens with emulsion isn’t much fun either, as it is usually a lonely task, often in a dank room. However, these are crucial steps in the process as we need the screens to be cleaned, degreased and coated with emulsion perfectly. This sets up the foundation for the image. How dialled in is your process in your shop? Do you have someone that is detail-minded doing this work, or do you, like a lot of shops, stick your worst employee on this as a punishment? In essence, are you leaving the cleanliness and quality of your number one production tool in the hands of someone who doesn’t care and is the lowest paid employee you have? Yes? Uh-oh. If you don’t think apathy in this area can backfire and hit you squarely in the face with a Murphy’s Law skillet, I don’t know what to tell you. Here are some recommendations... Don’t skimp on products Buy the best you can afford. Better products might cost more, but their performance will pay off later as they will be easier to clean, or expose, or produce a better stencil than cheaper varieties. I n the last issue, I explained how shops can dramatically increase the number of impressions they print each day simply by creating perfect, production-ready screens each and every time. I laid out the importance of analysing what is going on in the screen room and the production area in order to understand how much downtime a shop has each day versus printing time, and how many impressions an hour each press is managing. Once this data is analysed, it is obvious that maximising the printing time on each press by minimising the downtime is hugely profitable – and a cheaper option than buying another carousel. There are certain steps that need to be perfected in order to maximise the number of impressions from each press; I covered tension last issue, so this month I‘m looking at reclaiming and coating, imaging and exposing, and rinsing and washing out screens. Reclaiming and coating These steps go hand-in-hand with building a foundation for the image we use to print. These are also the two biggest pain-in-the-butt steps in your entire building. Reclaiming is easily the worst job. It’s Humidity counts Get a hygrometer and use it to measure the relative humidity in your screen room. Ideally, the humidity should be less than 30%. Use a commercial grade dehumidifier to control this if it‘s a problem. Don’t forget a stack of wet screens will increase the humidity in the room, so expect to see a spike in humidity after a coating session. Keep it clean This is a messy business and the screen room is one of the messiest. Keep it debris- and lint-free - lint floating in the air creates pinholes – especially on vacuum table glass. Be meticulous for better results. After being in countless shops, I can tell you that in the best ones the floors and walls sparkle. Training Screen making is a craft and requires precision. Make sure your training and management of the process are up to scratch. Screens are the keystone of your entire operation. Do not let just anyone do it. Understand EOM Make sure you have a firm grasp on the concept of ‘emulsion over mesh‘ or EOM. This is the thickness of the emulsion you are coating on the screen. Consistency counts. Want better quality screens? Upgrade from a manual scoop coater to an automatic coater. A machine will standardise this important 32 images SEPTEMBER 2018 SCREENS The biggest issue in your shop - part two In the concluding part of his two-part series, Marshall Atkinson explains exactly what you need to do in order to create perfect screens TIPS & TECHNIQUES