Screen Mesh Explained

by Peter Sanders

There are many variables in creating high quality printed mugs, we take a look at how the screen mesh can impact your promotional mugs.

The screen printing process has been used for decades but there are many variables to the process which determine whether the print is a success or failure. One such variable is the screen mesh; different mesh sizes are used for different applications in the screen print process. Screen printing can be used from, garments, tote bags, wood to ceramics. Also, it must be highlighted that a screen mesh used to print on a t-shirt may not be suitable for printed mugs.

Mesh size is measured by how many threads of mesh there are crossing per square inch. For instance, a 120-mesh screen has 120 threads crossing per square inch. The higher the count, the finer the threads and finer the corresponding holes in the screen. The choice of mesh is determined by how much detail is in your image. If you have an image with extremely high detail, a lower thread count will not produce the detail you require. Also, if you are using thinner ink it would flood through the larger holes in the screen and make your image blurry. On the other hand, if you are trying to print a thicker ink, for instance, printing white on to a black mug, too high a mesh count and not enough ink will pass through the mesh onto the substrate. In the case of printing mugs with ceramic inks, the highest mesh count that can be used is 120 but this mesh only allows a thin deposit of ink on to your promotional mug, in general at Prince William Pottery we use a 77 mesh which allows for a good ink deposit whilst also achieving a good level of detail.

Other inks used on ceramics such as UV inks can use much finer screen mesh. Using a UV ink system, the printer can use a mesh count of 170, this allows for very fine detail to be printed and half tones can be screen printed. Due to the nature and viscosity of ceramic inks used for screen printing directly onto the mug printing half tones is not achievable. However, using UV inks do not have the same adhesion.

Choosing the right mesh is an important part of the screen printing process, if the wrong mesh is chosen the image could be blurry or the colours are not vibrant enough. For this reason, at Prince William Pottery, we have a selection of screen meshes and choose the mesh that best suits your artwork allowing us to deliver high quality branded mugs.

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