It depends on what you're printing, really. You can stick with the mid to upper 100 meshes for printing simple vectors. For halftone work I usually stick with 180's for underbase, 230-255's on colors, then 305's for a detail black and highlight whites.
Would not the ink type be an issue here? Namely, WB vs plastisol? We print on vintage (used) table cloths with WB inks and find that 125 lays down too much ink for simple vectors with large open space. We have no experience with plastisol.
The ink I'll be using will be water based. I have speedball on hand right now, but may well explore other inks in the future.
I'm looking at one color right now, and part of the question involves what are the best WB ink types to mis together to get different questions.
At this point, I'm not thinking in terms of underbase.
Most of the fabric printing that I've seen in my shop involves lower mesh counts and rounded squeegees, although there is a woman in the shop that prints on 230 mesh with sharp edged squeegees. However, she is working on a finer woven cloth than is used in t shirts.
The technique that I've seen others use in my shop involves several (4-5) pull strokes with one last push/flood stroke while the screen is still pressed against the shirt. From what I understand, this is to ensure that enough ink is laid down to obtain opacity, which (in my as yet limited understanding of the process) is at least part of the purpose of an undercoat.
Last edited by Jim Benson; 11-01-2012 at 07:24 PM.
Reason: poor phrasing
If you have to do more than two strokes on fabric, you're doing something wrong. We regularly use 280 mesh on t-shirts (with WB ink), and only occasionally are the first two strokes poor enough to warrant a third.
Also, Speedball fabric inks are student-quality. Get some Permaset or Matsui if you want to use water-based inks. Matsui in particular makes an amazingly opaque white, but for that you actually will need a low mesh count -- we find that 86 mesh is great.
One-hit white on black is the holy grail of shirt printing. Matsui opaque white is like a mixture of toothpaste and drywall compound, not fun to work with.
A high-durometer squeegee helps a lot, but you're right about the screen tension -- if your screens are too slack, the mesh won't release the ink properly after the blade goes by. We lost our souls trying to print opaque white with Yudu screens (essentially tension-free) back when we first started printing.