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The Screen Printing Darkroom

How many times, I went to printing shops and especially in the screen printing darkroom, there you see first, on what level a screen printing department is.

Screen Printing Darkroom

I have seen beautiful machines in the front, costly screen printing machines, and just a look at their Darkroom, been just a disaster…

Here is my latest example of a Darkroom what is copy past too many workshops I visit.

Screen Printing Darkroom Workshop
Screen Printing Darkroom bad example, it been so dark inside, they even open the window, sunhine!?

A Darkroom means not that you have to work in the Dark. There is no need to paint the wall black; it’s not a gathering place for people who are tired and need a nap or even play hide and see.

The Darkroom is the most important Room in your workshop.

This is where it begins to produce printing frames, which will last in production. Where you get the best out of your artwork, when the frames are well made, you will have the pleasure of printing smart and beautiful. And it all depends on whether your production runs smoothly or you have breakdowns and production nightmares.Nevertheless, you will do it better!

Some basics, Let’s begin:

The Darkroom is a climate-controlled area, with a humidity level of 30-40% (MAX 50%)! Primarily the first tool, which has to be in this Room is a Hygrometer.

Hygrometer

It’s a low-cost tool, what you will find in much hardware store. The reason why you would need one is that your Emulsion needs to be dry. Most importantly, as Emulsion acts like a sponge, when not yet exposed, and absorbs water from the Air, you better make sure that your Humidity stays below 40%. A Hydrometer is, in reality, is a quick indicator to show you what is going on.

If you are from an area where the humidity is low all year, that’s great as you would not need the next tools to control the humidity level, on the contrary, save some money.

To control the Humidity Level in your Darkroom

To keep the humidity content of the circulating air constant, in the first place, an air conditioner or dehumidifier is usually used, whereby the size of these units depends on the room size in cubic meters (m3).

Ask an expert who would be the right unit for your room. Also, You would have to run these units 24 hours a day, as the screen printing frames you prepare will not be affected even overnight.

Not to mention If you are using an air conditioner, use the moisture removal settings “Dry”, not “Cold”. Since we don’t need a cold room, we need a dry room, and with these settings, you will save a good amount on your electricity bill and thus the environment.

Keep the DarkRoom closed! How many times I see, that companies install an Air Conditioner and then the entry door, stays permanently open (see picture above, screen printing shop). It does not make sense, close the doors and windows!

Not only you would like to have a low humidity level in your Darkroom; you want it Dusk Free too. Wet Emulsion, seems to act as a magnet to Dusk. Use an Aspirator to get the Dusk out, but please, do not use a Water Aspirator, use a dry unit. I have seen it with my own eyes, that people invest in a dehumidifier and then use a water aspirator, to remove the dusk. =) THERE IS NO WATER IN THE DARKROOM.

Light up the Darkroom

First light up our Darkroom! Paint the walls white, install yellow safety light, with very low or better non-UV radiation. Primarily you need to enlighten the room well. White walls don’t create UV, that’s a reason why you don’t need dark painted walls, Hence paint them white!

First light up our Darkroom! Paint the walls white, install yellow safety light, with very low or better non-UV radiation. Primarily you need to enlighten the room well. White walls don’t create UV, that’s a reason why you don’t need dark painted walls, Hence paint them white!

Darkroom Safety comes with proper light to!

To dry your Emulsion

Additionally, You would need a heater, mostly used in a Box, where you dry your screens. Don’t overheat your frames, 30-40C should more than fine. And yet, don’t get dusk inside, dusk is your enemy.

This will help you to create better long-lasting frames, because:

  • No dust in emulsion = fewer pinholes
  • Proper humidity level = better frame developments, durable Emulsion, easier reclaiming
  • the Right Light = much better working area, no exposure to the frame before development

Darkroom Summary

  • Emulsion needs a humidity level of 30-40%
  • Darkroom is a climate-controlled area
  • A Darkroom is a Dusk Free Zone
  • Light is essential, but without UV radiation
  • A must-have, basic tool is a Hydrometer
  • High-class printers are very concern about there darkroom.

More than 30 Years in the Screen Printing Business. Living in Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean, Nationality : German, Married, two children.

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