Reclaiming screens within limited space could potentially be more of a greater creative ask than the actual screen printing. It can be a merciless process as skipping steps are penalized when you’re seeking a quality print. Today we talk to Jen Badger of ShineOn Designs who has made big strides since she started screen printing in her basement. But she’s got valuable tips to share with us on her pragmatic approach to reclaiming screens.
How did you start reclaiming screens when you started your business?
When we first started, we were in the basement of our house. In order to set up a place where we had water and a drain, we turned the existing bathroom into our reclaiming area by putting a washtub in the shower stall. “We then took the shower stall and put a laundry washtub in there. It also doubled as our darkroom, which wasn't exactly ideal but we were able to take that really small space and make it a workable space for our shop when we first started.”
Are there any steps you can combine when reclaiming screens?
Now that we've moved to a larger location, we have more of a dedicated reclaim area and a separate darkroom. One of the things we invested in that has helped us in this process is a dip tank, which allows us to put the screens in the tank and let them soak. While those are soaking, we have time to accomplish other things at the same time and use our time most efficiently. Also, you can get combination chemicals like a screen cleaner and a degreaser that removes the ghost image and degreases at the same time.
Any things to be aware of?
We learned through trial and error that there are some steps you cannot skip. When your screens are not of good quality when you go to print, you’ll deal with the breakdown of the emulsion and other things like that. Skipping steps will not save time and money in the long-run.
Do you have any tips on saving space?
When we started off, we actually ended up putting a dip tank in our shower stall. I just went to the local hardware store and bought a washbasin that you can get for a laundry room. We put that in the shower stall with the dip tank right beside it. So that way the screens could come right out of the tip tank and go into the washbasin where everything was rinsed off to start the process of getting screens cleaned.
You mentioned you combined the darkroom and your reclaiming area in the same space when you just started off. Is this something you would recommend for a smaller shop?
Ideally no! But for someone who is just getting started and doesn't want to invest a lot into construction or remodeling a space in their house or garage, it works fine. We ran a dehumidifier in there at all times, so the only concern is when you have screens in there that have emulsion on them that haven't been burned yet. We started out on a really small budget and so we kind of looked around at what we had and adapted it to what we needed. So is it ideal? No, not necessarily. But does it work? Yes.
How do you stay safe when reclaiming screens within limited space?
Ventilation is something we're pretty careful about. We ventilate by using vent fans and an outside door. The person working with me who reclaims screens wears a respirator and safety goggles to keep the chemicals out of his lungs and eyes. Also, we really try to keep chemicals contained to one specific area instead of doing screen cleaning in different areas of the shop that aren't really set-up for that. That's another way that we control a safe work environment.
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