Experience silkscreening DIY panels?

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eolianmollisol
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Experience silkscreening DIY panels?

Post by eolianmollisol » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:05 pm

I've tried to find a thread about DIY panels, and have found some stuff, but nothing about silkscreening. Maybe its buried, if it is, sorry...

Right now, I've got my panel fabrication down but, I'm torn as to what to do for the finishing. I have experience silkscreening t-shirts, but never with metal. I want something professional, but I don't want to pay the pretty penny to get it done. A.K.A. I wanna do it DIY.

Anyone have any suggestions as to laying out graphic designs, and getting them on the panel without using MFOS style laminated paper? Is silkscreening just too time consuming?

Thanks for any thoughts :tu:
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Post by kdjupdal » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:15 pm

Yes, I do that with the EZscreenprint kit. It works very well! I can upload some photos later.

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eolianmollisol
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Post by eolianmollisol » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:17 pm

Awesome :yay: If you could elaborate on your technique, that'd be doubly awesome :party:
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Post by cretaceousear » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:40 pm

I'd be very interested to see this too.
I'm filling holes in my 30 yr old modular and have at least 3 panels to do with white lettering on a bronze colour panel.

When I built it, I hand letrasetted everything (rub down lettering) - it's ok I'm a graphic designer (or was) - it took forever - all the knobs have 1-10 around them - end result looks professional but I'm looking for short cuts this time.
So far been quoted £50 for a single sheet of white A5 rubdown that I would supply artwork for.
Silk screen sounds good.. but I worked with very high quality silk screen printers when I was a graphic designer .. and only the very best can do small crisp lettering. White lettering seems double tricky
..the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”

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Post by guitarfool » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:22 pm

There's a bit of info on silkscreening synth panels on my webpage:

http://www.guitarfool.com/Silkscreen.html

Hasn't been updated in years.

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Post by GrantB » Fri Apr 11, 2014 10:07 pm

My girl showed me this stuff, which some people use for screen printing glaze on ceramics: http://ezscreenprint.com

Looks like the easiest way if you don't have any gear yet. Not sure of the resolution but they do have a "hi-res" option listed.

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Post by coopersloan » Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:35 pm

Metals call for special solvent inks. Generally a gloss enamel or a two part epoxy system. You can try other ones but YMMV, and you will probably need a protective coat of some sort.
White can be extra trouble for fine details because the larger pigment particles necessitate a coarser mesh size.

Basically it is a huge pain in the rear, but good results are possible with practice. Not dissimilar to etching PCB's.

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Post by DSC » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:46 am

I print panels all the time. I have a full screenprinting operation in house for another specific application. The best results are going to be using 300 mesh and Nazdar ADE two part epoxy. Expensive ink. $50 to $65 a quart and then you need the catalyst and also some RE-180 thinner which only comes in gallons and costs $75 a gallon.

Layout the art using Corel Draw. Corel is very easy to learn and allows for multiple format import and export.

Depending on exactly what you are doing, I can help you out. Depending how fast of turn around you need.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by DSC on Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by kdjupdal » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:06 am

Using the EZscreenprint: It is easy and quick, the result is quite good. The trick is to make graphics that doesn´t use too thin lines. The tick marks here are on the limit. You develope the screen yourself (Hires screen).

Applying paint:
Image

Result:
Image

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Post by eolianmollisol » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:51 am

Thanks all for the info. I've all the "hardware" needed to silkscreen, just not the expensive inks :omg:

As with most anything, got a bit of a start up cost if you wanna do it right!

DSC: thats pretty slick. I'm pretty terrible at burning my images into the photo emulsion. For shirts and stuff that I've done in the past I've, in all honesty, probably only had about 20% success. I.e., it'd be too burned, or not burned enough. Any tips here? I'm thinking right now, after the initial investment of the inks, this is the way I'll go.
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Post by eolianmollisol » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:54 am

by burned I meant exposure times. :bang:
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Post by seanpark » Sat Apr 12, 2014 8:52 am

kdjupdal wrote:Using the EZscreenprint: It is easy and quick, the result is quite good. The trick is to make graphics that doesn´t use too thin lines. The tick marks here are on the limit. You develope the screen yourself (Hires screen).
Those look great!

Are those blanks bought from Dotcom or is there another source?

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Post by DSC » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:04 am

The trick to getting screens exposed just right is an integrator. Most exposure systems use metal halide bulbs. As these bulbs get used they start to slowly die. This means if you use a strictly timer based system, then you will always be slightly off, timing wise. A integrator measures the light in units. If you set an integrator to 350 for example, it will only turn off the exposure after it receives 350 light units.

Sorry for all the technical explanation, it's just before I used an integrator I was losing my mind trying to figure out the timing as well. Another method that can work is using direct sunlight. Literally using a piece of glass held tight over your film and the screen and holding up to direct sunlight for 60 seconds. I have used this method on large 4' x 8' screens!

Last thing I would mention is a vacuum frame is ideal when exposing screens. It consists of a glass table and a piece of rubber sheet material that holds the screen and the film tightly to the glass to be exposed. If part of your image is crisp and clear and other parts of your image are fuzzy, especially in the corners than light is bending around your film because your film is not tightly held to your emulsion.

I have seen many new process' try and do what silkscreen does well. I agree with you about the investment. It pays off and the look/durability/feel is second to none, if performed right.

I can dive into more tips on the baking process too. It is critical to get two part epoxy to cure properly. I have over twenty years experience, so I am glad to help 8_)

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Post by kdjupdal » Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:06 am

seanpark wrote: Are those blanks bought from Dotcom or is there another source?
Yes, blanks from Dotcom.

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Post by seanpark » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:04 am

DSC wrote:The trick to getting screens exposed just right is an integrator. Most exposure systems use metal halide bulbs. As these bulbs get used they start to slowly die. This means if you use a strictly timer based system, then you will always be slightly off, timing wise. A integrator measures the light in units. If you set an integrator to 350 for example, it will only turn off the exposure after it receives 350 light units.

Sorry for all the technical explanation, it's just before I used an integrator I was losing my mind trying to figure out the timing as well. Another method that can work is using direct sunlight. Literally using a piece of glass held tight over your film and the screen and holding up to direct sunlight for 60 seconds. I have used this method on large 4' x 8' screens!

Last thing I would mention is a vacuum frame is ideal when exposing screens. It consists of a glass table and a piece of rubber sheet material that holds the screen and the film tightly to the glass to be exposed. If part of your image is crisp and clear and other parts of your image are fuzzy, especially in the corners than light is bending around your film because your film is not tightly held to your emulsion.

I have seen many new process' try and do what silkscreen does well. I agree with you about the investment. It pays off and the look/durability/feel is second to none, if performed right.

I can dive into more tips on the baking process too. It is critical to get two part epoxy to cure properly. I have over twenty years experience, so I am glad to help 8_)
Very interested in any tips you have to share. Especially regarding DIY exposure jigs / lights / boxes and such. Commercial units are extremely expensive.

For baking I plan to pick up a toaster oven from Goodwill or something. Will this work? Any features I should hunt for?


And inks...

Epoxy inks seem to be the best (Nazdar ADE?) has anyone tried the enamel inks such as Nazdar 59000? It seems like they are easier to work with while still having decent solvent resistance.

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Post by eolianmollisol » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:25 am

Boy, thats a lot more elegant than my exposure process ever was. I just used a heat lamp about 14 inches off the ground with a black background behind the screen. Probably why I failed all the time :sadbanana:

A lot of great tips DSC: Don't spare the technical details!

Perhaps guitarfool's suggestion of having a commercial company expose your images may be the best option for those who don't want to invest in all the equipment. Just send them a file with a few different panels for one screen. If you planned far enough ahead, it'd probably pay off.
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Post by eolianmollisol » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:39 am

kdjupdal wrote:Using the EZscreenprint: It is easy and quick, the result is quite good. The trick is to make graphics that doesn´t use too thin lines. The tick marks here are on the limit. You develope the screen yourself (Hires screen).

Applying paint:
Image

Result:
Image
Whoa! :tu:

I just watched the video on their site. The main problem I always had was with photo emulsion, exposure, yada yada, like I said. This makes it really easy. Gonna have to give this a try :banana:
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Post by zamp » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:06 pm

kdjupdal wrote:Using the EZscreenprint: It is easy and quick, the result is quite good. The trick is to make graphics that doesn´t use too thin lines. The tick marks here are on the limit. You develope the screen yourself (Hires screen).

Applying paint:
What ink / paint are you using there?

Is it easy to clean the paint from the screen so that you can reuse the screen? What do you use to clean the paint from the screen?

Do you have to cure the paint after you've screened it onto the panel? If so, how -- with heat or just waiting for some time to pass?

Does the ink hold up to normal handling of the panel or do you need to spray something transparent over the screened panel to protect the screened paint?

Sorry for all of the questions, but this is something I want to try and you seem to have a good technique for small batches of panels.

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Post by DSC » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:20 pm

Ok, let's clear up a few things first.

Ink bonds with the material. Think newspaper ink. Once applied you would not ever think of trying to separate the two!

Paint sits on top of whatever substrate you apply it to. Don't like the way your house looks? Scrape off the old and reapply paint on top of it.

Nazdar's two part epoxy (ink & catalyst) will dig into the surface of your substrate. Very quickly too I might add. If you are printing and you accidentally make a mistake or something gets smudged, make sure to have isopropyl alcohol on some paper towel to IMMEDIATELY rub off the ink, other wise it will start to leave a white ghost on your substrate. Again where the ink is starting to dig into the substrate. Think ink and newsprint.

Generally it is important to read all of the information provided by the ink manufacturer. They are constantly changing/improving their formulas and will update their curing process as needed. Nazdar use to use the ER series and now have reformulated using the ADE series. There were pro's and con's for both.

After you have printed your panels and they have dried to the touch, meaning all of the solvent has evaporated you now need to bake your panel to fully cure the ink. Usually 300 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes will fully cure the ink. You can test it by using the scotch tape test. After the panel has cooled, apply a piece of scotch tape and rub your finger over it to make sure there is good adhesion, then rip off the tape in one swift stroke. If any ink comes up, then it was not fully cured.

A side note about epoxy's in general. They are not to be used outside or in other high UV exposure areas. They will turn to chalk over time with high UV exposure. They make special ink for UV and outdoor applications.

Enamels can be used, but usually they are harder to work with on a couple of fronts. First, enamel takes a long time to dry. Heating it can speed this up, however you can quickly 'yellow' white ink if you get it to hot. Also white ink will slowly yellow over time. Don't ask me why, but it does. Second since enamel does not 'set up' quickly it has a tendency to bleed into textures. I see someone posted some powder coated panels in pictures above. If you try and print those with enamel, then I would suggest adding a flatner powder. It thickens up the ink and adds a solid consistency so it will not bleed into the powder coat texture.

It is VERY important to understand the thinner/solvent you are going to use in your printing. Thinner not only will thin the ink, it can also be used to allow the ink to be extra aggressive getting into the substrate! I also like to use the thinner to clean the ink out of the screen. Sometimes you will need to soak both sides of the mesh for several minutes in order to try and remove as much as you can. Also realize you will NEVER remove all of it. Epoxy is glue, enuff said.

Back to screens, I also would suggest finding someone local who can shoot/make your screens. I currently provide this service for a few folks and it works well. Usually they will pick up a screen and drop off a screen at the same time. They will usually email me the art and I can 'reclaim' the screen and recoat it and expose and wash it out and have it ready to pick up in a couple of days. I charge $45.00 for this service per screen. I only mention this so you can have a cost basis on what to expect from others who might provide this service.

Mesh count is another area you have to be concerned with. Start with 196 count mesh and you might have problems with bleeding. Use 440 and you might have problems with coverage. Takes some trial and error to get right, believe me! No one mesh works for everything.

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Post by delayed » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:18 am

What CNC machine do you have? Any tips with using one of these? I would like to get one in the near future. It looks as if if cuts the AL with ease. How thick and what type of AL are you using? Do you use any air to blow away the shavings while it is running?

What is your process of lining up a panel after all the holes have been milled? Any pictures would be welcomed.

O, and what type/brand of emulsion and washout do you use? I have been using cheapo Speedball for some time and would like to change.

And how many reclaims do you get out of a screen after using Nazdar ADE?

Thanks for sharing.

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Post by kdjupdal » Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:01 am

What ink / paint are you using there?
Jacquard Screen Printing Ink - it is water based, so I don't know how durable the print is.
Is it easy to clean the paint from the screen so that you can reuse the screen? What do you use to clean the paint from the screen?
Yes, you can use the screen multiple times. Just clean the screen imediately with water.
Do you have to cure the paint after you've screened it onto the panel? If so, how -- with heat or just waiting for some time to pass?
Just waiting for it to dry
Does the ink hold up to normal handling of the panel or do you need to spray something transparent over the screened panel to protect the screened paint?
I didn't spray anything. Seems fine, but I don't normally touch the panel.

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Post by goom » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:33 am

guitarfool wrote:There's a bit of info on silkscreening synth panels on my webpage:

http://www.guitarfool.com/Silkscreen.html

Hasn't been updated in years.
Hi guitar - Great job on your panels. Thanks for documenting your process.

May I ask how much Westar charges for your screens? Is it feasible to add more than one panel graphic to a single screen to save some money?

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Post by DSC » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:59 am

delayed wrote:What CNC machine do you have? Any tips with using one of these? I would like to get one in the near future. It looks as if if cuts the AL with ease. How thick and what type of AL are you using? Do you use any air to blow away the shavings while it is running?

What is your process of lining up a panel after all the holes have been milled? Any pictures would be welcomed.

O, and what type/brand of emulsion and washout do you use? I have been using cheapo Speedball for some time and would like to change.

And how many reclaims do you get out of a screen after using Nazdar ADE?

Thanks for sharing.
I don't want to derail this thread with cnc talk. Maybe another thread could be started or you can PM me and I can let you know some huge time saving info when it comes to that.

As far as emulsion I like Ulano. They have several emulsions that cover a variety of tasks, but a good general purpose one is the RLX series. As far as emulsion remover I like Kiwo brand emulsion remover. Comes in concentrate, so make sure to dilute according to the directions on the bottle. For reclaiming, make sure to use a power washer of at least 1000PSI. If you buy one, buy one at 1350PSI as over time and usage it will drop to 1000PSI. I even have used a standard car wash to clean screens, but the owners usually frown on this sort of thing :roll: If you do a very good job at cleaning and store your screens in a covered rack when not in use, there is no reason why you couldn't get a couple of years use out of each screen. Even with using epoxy inks. The trick is cleaning, cleaning, cleaning when using epoxy inks. You will use more thinner to clean with then to mix with!

I looked at the link shown above at guitarfool's site and I noticed the wood screens he is using are not mortice and tenon joints at the ends. Screens like this with heavy usage will not last as long. I like sunbelt screens. Link here: http://sunbeltmfg.com/pages/index/screen/
Pre-stretched, mortice and tenon joints, double coated and ready to go with your choice of mesh! If you are going to invest for the long term, this is the way to go.

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Post by cj3000 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:30 pm

Please say some words to your CNC machine. I am also in the process of purchasing one. Mainly for alu panels. If you like open an new thread. I think a lot of people would be interested in.
And thanks for the info on silkscreening. Have you ever printed on anodised material? Someone told me not to bake over 70 degree Celsius with them. The material will get cracks on the surface. :hmm:
Christoph.

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Post by DSC » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:57 pm

cj3000 wrote: Have you ever printed on anodised material? Someone told me not to bake over 70 degree Celsius with them. The material will get cracks on the surface. :hmm:
Christoph.
Seriously, the CNC topic needs to be it's own thread.

As far as anodized, yes this is actually preferred to bare aluminum. As you have to clean bare aluminum RIGHT before you print it because of the oxidation that occurs.

As far as temps I have had no trouble baking anodized aluminum at 275 - 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Only for short periods of time. 10 - 15 minutes top. You can also use lower temperatures, but then the baking times go up. Nazdar is VERY good at providing this information. Check with your ink manufacturer for the exact process in which to cure inks. They test this all of the time and are always looking for input.

I might open a can of worms with what I'm about to say, but also realize if you invest the time to learn screen printing and acquire some knowledge in printing, you are only a breath away from printing your own PCB's and etching your own copper clad board. This is what I'm doing. Along with a small CNC you can drill the holes and ZAAAAAAANG! your doing the whole mofo IN HOUSE!!!!

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