How to Screen Print Using the UV Process

Written by miles jarvis
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How to Screen Print Using the UV Process
Using UV light is a convenient way to prepare silk screens. (Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

If you're new to the world of screen printing, all these new tools and terminologies might make preparing a silk screen seem a daunting task. But with a little guidance and an understanding of how everything works, you'll soon be on your way to making prints with your eyes closed. Using the sun or UV lights to prepare silk screens isn't something you need to be a scientist or silk screening expert to do.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Black image on transparent plastic sheet
  • Clear tape
  • Masking tape
  • Photo emulsion
  • Sensitiser
  • Spoon
  • Squeegee
  • Sheet of glass
  • Photoflood light bulb or light box
  • Fabric or surface to be printed on
  • Ink

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  1. 1

    Print the design you wish to use as a black image onto two or three transparent plastic sheets. To ensure the image is very black, use clear tape to stick the transparent sheets together, making sure the images are perfectly lined up with each other.

  2. 2

    Tape the edges of your screen with masking or water resistant tape to prevent leakage when you apply photo emulsion and ink.

  3. 3

    Prepare the photo emulsion by filling the sensitiser bottle halfway with water and mixing it together. When throughly mixed, pour the sensitiser into the photo emulsion bottle and mix them together with a spoon or Popsicle stick.

  4. 4

    Pour the photo emulsion mixture onto the screen and spread a thin, even layer using a squeegee. Use the squeegee to remove excess emulsion from the back of the screen to help speed up the time it takes to dry.

  5. 5

    Put the screen in a dark place for 24 hours and allow it to dry. Rest it horizontally and elevate it so that both sides can dry evenly.

  6. 6

    Place your transparent image on the screen. Use a sheet of glass to weight down the image so that it is pushed hard against the silk screen.

  7. 7

    Place the screen under a photoflood light bulb or light box for 10 minutes. Alternatively, put the screen outside under a bright sun for 30 minutes.

  8. 8

    Remove the transparent image and spray the screen with cold water. Continue to spray until the emulsion has been removed from where the black image was placed. Allow the screen to dry.

  9. 9

    Place the screen over the fabric or surface you wish to print onto. Spread ink evenly and gently over the screen with a squeegee. Applying pressure, spread the ink over the screen once more in order to push the ink through the permeable area of the screen and onto the printing surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Use newspapers to keep your work surface clean, and only work in an area you can get dirty.
  • Wear an apron or clothes you don't mind getting dirty.

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