Experience silkscreening DIY panels?

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cj3000
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Post by cj3000 » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:24 pm

Thanks for all your valuable info.
Christoph.

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LudfisterSound
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Post by LudfisterSound » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:45 pm

Slikscreening was too expensive and troublesome to use for single panel production so I've been taking synthesizer.com panels to a local graphics shop with a flatbed printer. They use opaque white UV cured ink and the result is very nice. You can tell the difference up close but from a normal useage distance the look nearly identical to the dotcom modules around them.

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Post by DSC » Wed Apr 16, 2014 11:46 pm

Ok, I was not sure if I would have a chance to work on my new dual L-1 microcompressor panel, but you all are in luck.
Step by step, here we go.

I use a special paper to make film to expose screens. It is called Casey's Translucency. This is transparent paper that process' extremely well through most laser printers. I am assuming most of you will not be burning your own screens, however if you do, this product is the best to use. DO NOT USE ink jet films. They are not opaque enough to expose screens with.

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Prep your panel. You must make sure there are no rough edges or burrs. Use a reamer and some 400 grit sandpaper and go slow by hand over all edges.

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Next you will need some shims to set your screen frame above your printing surface. This is critical to get right so you have a clean release off of your substrate. I like to use 1/8th inch pieces of plastic. You can use anything that will allow you to get an 1/8th inch off of the surface.

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Completely clean the surface with alcohol. Spend extra time now to make sure there are no oils or anything else that will interfere with adhesion. I stress this now because you can easily have a perfect panel ruined by a
little spec or goober that just happened to be in the wrong spot when you go and print your panel.

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Next you need to fill in any pin holes or other image areas you do not want to print. You might be asking why would you have these images on your film in the first place. I like to have outlines of the panel including hole outlines. These help when it comes to registration. I then fill in these outlines and any pin holes that might have shown up in the burning process with a water based screen filler. Apply only to the underside of the screen. Never on the squeegee side! Use a fine brush to get around details. You can use an Elmer's Glue or other water based glue if you don't have any specifically for screens. Let thoroughly dry.

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Now you are ready to mount your screen. Attach your frame to your hinge or screen clamps. Use your shims to get your frame off of your printing surface. Use a long flat ruler to slowly move your panel around until it is in perfect registration. You might move your panel just a hair's thickness towards the direction you plan to print. The screen mesh is fabric and will move slightly when you print.

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Now that you have your panel exactly where you want it you need to create registration guides to guide it into place. I use thin pieces of left over Lexan with some double sided tape.

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Now CAREFULLY attach your guides in the following positions. Always make sure you position your guides so you will be printing 'into' them. Once your guides are in place, remove your panel, realign it back and bring your screen down checking your registration. I usually make several fine adjustments moving the guides until I'm exactly sure they are where I want them.

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Obviously you can see this is a custom vacuum table. Most of the time I am printing items in multiple quantity.

Since I am printing only one panel I will not use the vacuum table. I will use more double sided tape. Make sure you have placed the strips evenly under two ends. Use your hands and touch the tape all over to lessen the adhesive's strength otherwise it will be very hard to get off.

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Next, you need a bridge. Yes, you want to guide your squeegee blade across your panel with ease. Use a piece of material the same thickness as your substrate and but it up against you panel. This way when you pull your squeegee across it will not hit the edge and pass over in one smooth uninterrupted stroke.

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Here I am adding a folded towel paper to increase the off contact of the screen. It was a little low so I added an additional thickness to boost the space so it was a little more even.

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Triple check your off contact by pushing your finger down on the mesh and feel your panel just below it. It should feel the same distance off of the surface across the entire panel.

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Mix your ink using a scale. Only mix what you need. In this case I am only printing one, so very little is needed.

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Use the required catalyst. Refer to your ink manufacturer for exact mixing ratio's.

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Mix thoroughly. You need the ink to be thick honey in its viscosity. Make sure to have your paper towel with your Isopropyl alcohol already on it and ready to use in case you are not happy with your print. This could be the only savior to a bad printed panel!

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Freshly printed.

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Clean your mesh very well if you plan on reusing your screen. Use the appropriate thinner. Soak both sides.

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Bake your panel according to the ink manufacturers guidelines.

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You can scotch tape test and insure you have a cured print.

Enjoy!

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Last edited by DSC on Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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delayed
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Post by delayed » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:43 am

great photo set. what model vacuum pump did you get for your table?

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Heavy Metal Kid
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Post by Heavy Metal Kid » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:57 am

Thanks, excellent post!

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cretaceousear
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Post by cretaceousear » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:51 am

Great job on the panels DSC - but that's a lot of kit you have to get !

I was thinking maybe someone can adapt a 3d printer.
Put the panel in as the substrate base and 3d print the design on top in white gunk.
Not sure if that's possible - would the gunk stick to the panel - would it be opaque enough - how many layers would it need.. is the dot resolution high enough for fine lines. Might work one day!

There's actually an OKI printer that prints white onto coloured paper - not cheap though
..the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”

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zamp
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Post by zamp » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:43 am

Wow, DSC! That's a great looking panel. I've googled for these kind of details several times over the last few years and have never been able to find anything nearly as thorough as what you just shared. Thank you so much for all the photos and details on your process.

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cj3000
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Post by cj3000 » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:43 pm

zamp wrote:Wow, DSC! That's a great looking panel. I've googled for these kind of details several times over the last few years and have never been able to find anything nearly as thorough as what you just shared. Thank you so much for all the photos and details on your process.
I can conform this. Absolutely no info in the web for this kind of silkscreening.
Thanks a lot. Beautifully documented.
Christoph.

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eolianmollisol
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Post by eolianmollisol » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:39 pm

getting down to business DSC! :yay:
soils sustain life

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Post by guitarfool » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:41 pm

goom wrote:
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?
Sorry for the delayed response - for some reason I no longer get notifications from Muffs!

I have been ordering the 18x20 #200 (treads per inch) white silkscreens on aluminum frames, coated and burned with 300-600 DPI JPEG artwork that I send them. It works out to about $50 per screen plus shipping.

On this size screen, I can get 1 quad width MU panel, or 2 double width, or 3 single width panels. You only need to leave about the spacing of a single width panel between each one. The only issue with this is you need to wash the screen after printing one of the panels on the screen, then dry it before you can use the screen to print one of the other panels on it. A hair drier works well here. If you try printing with a wet screen, bad things happen. I guess that on average it's about $25 per panel design for the ready-to-print screens.

I am also using water-based ink (Speedball). It is pretty thick, but squeegees through the screen nicely. I have been doing this for about 14 years, and have never had an issue with durability of the printed panels. They really aren't exposed to much contact anyway (unless you use all slider pots, or have small children playing with it).

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6.4 Billion
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Post by 6.4 Billion » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:07 pm

Nice photoset DSC! Do you ever have problems with the translucency print being off by a small amount? I've noticed when printing things, especially larger prints, the scaling might not be spot on in one direction.

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Post by DSC » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:30 pm

Thanks for all of the comments. I will say you don't meet many people who screenprint 'flatwork' as we call it in the industry. It's mostly textile (tshirts) printers you find. To this date I have only met 6 dyed in the wool flat work screen printers. Guys who have printed a six color panel or more using epoxy or uv based inks.

As far as vacuum, I have a central vac installed in my shop, I usually tie into it. Just need a 'knife' switch to move the suction on and off. This is only really useful if you you are working in quantity. At least 30 panels or more. Extremely useful for larger runs.

The problem with digital printing stuff is they can never seem to lay down enough ink. I have seen the new t-shirt ink jet printers (direct to garment) and the complaints I hear is that they just are not durable. That directly translates into not enough ink deposit. I always keep watching RolandDG in this area hoping one day they will cure this (pun intended) and come out with the printer that does everything. The problem there is you have to have enough production to justify the cost of the machine and the consumables. I currently trade work with my digital printer. I screenprint his stuff, he digitally prints my stuff.

I run several operations through one screen shop. This gives me the ability to have fresh chemicals/inks/emulsions on hand at all times. I even print on balloons. If you don't think I'm serious, you can order some online right now if you want!!! I guarantee I will be the one printing them!

www.theballoonprinter.com

I really enjoy printing. There is always a new challenge. As far as accuracy with films. Yes this is always a problem. One way to alleviate some of this issue is put several sheets of translucency in a large paper bag and heat up the air in the paper bag with a hair dryer before you run it through your laser printer. This will help with inconsistencies you will experience with paper shrinkage/expansion/humidity due to temperature extremes.

A side note to the accuracy of things. There can be differences in your films, slight variants in your cnc g-code and there is your attitude of the day on top of it all. I guarantee one of those will be screwed up, so get in the habit of troubleshooting if you plan to get into this silly racket.

I'm a pretty easy goin' guy, but sometimes if I get myself in toooooo deep, look out!

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Post by delayed » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:13 pm

Would this be all that would be needed for the ADE printing? I am looking at emulsions also but an emulsion is not listed below.

This is from SourceOne. Would you suggest a different/better place to order inks?

I am wanting to try something different than the Speedball and various enamel paints that I have been using. But I have never used a two part ink before.



ADE67701 Catalyst HALF PINT $14.90

ADE751K Opaque White 1-KILO $25.10

KW24308311 KIWO STENCIL REMOVER 1:20 CONC QUART $38.79

RE19004 Thinner (old T976B) GALLON $70.40

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Post by DSC » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:54 pm

Yep, that list looks good.
RE190 is a fast thinner which is really good if you are in a humid environment. I'm in Denver, so it is usually very dry here, so the normal RE180 works for me. Not a deal breaker if you can only get RE190.
Post your results and let me know if you run into problems.

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Post by seanpark » Sat Apr 19, 2014 10:50 am

@delayed,

I've been itching to make some proper dotcom-style panels. If you're going with ADE I'd be down to offset some of the costs if I can do some printing with you.

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Post by cane creek » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:14 am

What about this

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Post by goom » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:21 pm

guitarfool wrote:
goom wrote:
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?
Sorry for the delayed response - for some reason I no longer get notifications from Muffs!

I have been ordering the 18x20 #200 (treads per inch) white silkscreens on aluminum frames, coated and burned with 300-600 DPI JPEG artwork that I send them. It works out to about $50 per screen plus shipping.

On this size screen, I can get 1 quad width MU panel, or 2 double width, or 3 single width panels. You only need to leave about the spacing of a single width panel between each one. The only issue with this is you need to wash the screen after printing one of the panels on the screen, then dry it before you can use the screen to print one of the other panels on it. A hair drier works well here. If you try printing with a wet screen, bad things happen. I guess that on average it's about $25 per panel design for the ready-to-print screens.

I am also using water-based ink (Speedball). It is pretty thick, but squeegees through the screen nicely. I have been doing this for about 14 years, and have never had an issue with durability of the printed panels. They really aren't exposed to much contact anyway (unless you use all slider pots, or have small children playing with it).
Sorry, I'm late in replying as well. Thanks for sharing the info. I would like to try your process in the future.

I've been using a local shop to laser etch the graphics on panels that I've painted myself. I order the bare metal cut to size, then I sand and paint it with Rustoleum or Krylon paint. Problem is, the laser etched panels aren't as easy to see in the low light in my music room, compared to the MOTM silk-screened panels. Here's one that I just completed this week.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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Post by delayed » Sun Apr 20, 2014 10:39 pm

We will have to talk when I get the ink together. I am looking for a place to order everything together. I am having a time finding the emulsion and this type of ink together. If I find some time this week I am going to check out Plaza downtown. I know they sell Nazdar, but I am not sure they sell the emulsion I want or the ADE.


seanpark wrote:@delayed,

I've been itching to make some proper dotcom-style panels. If you're going with ADE I'd be down to offset some of the costs if I can do some printing with you.

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Post by cretaceousear » Mon Apr 21, 2014 6:09 am

goom wrote:I've been using a local shop to laser etch the graphics on panels that I've painted myself. I order the bare metal cut to size, then I sand and paint it with Rustoleum or Krylon paint.
Looks pretty damn good that..
A few questions..
What sort of place offers custom laser etching?
How much was the one panel ?
Any idea if automobile spray paint is ok?
..the vessel was heavier because “dead sheep do not have the same weight as the live ones”

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Post by goom » Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:24 am

cretaceousear wrote:
goom wrote:I've been using a local shop to laser etch the graphics on panels that I've painted myself. I order the bare metal cut to size, then I sand and paint it with Rustoleum or Krylon paint.
Looks pretty damn good that..
A few questions..
What sort of place offers custom laser etching?
How much was the one panel ?
Any idea if automobile spray paint is ok?
Thanks! It's a trophy shop that has a laser etcher. Those shops are everywhere, but I don't know if they all have laser etch machines. I get charged just under $30 for a 1U panel. They might be cutting me some slack on the price, since it's a place we use at my job. I haven't tried automobile paint. It might be worth trying.

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Post by ehochstrasser » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:50 pm

After several months of experimenting (and winding up with very fuzzy graphics on guitar pedals) I've finally begun finding some confidence in my screen printing abilities. I've been using an extra translucency sheet for registration and this is where I need to focus my energies moving forward since it's a little off. In any case, here are some panels I did at lunch time today!

Image

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Post by coopersloan » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:06 pm

delayed wrote:We will have to talk when I get the ink together. I am looking for a place to order everything together. I am having a time finding the emulsion and this type of ink together. If I find some time this week I am going to check out Plaza downtown. I know they sell Nazdar, but I am not sure they sell the emulsion I want or the ADE.


seanpark wrote:@delayed,

I've been itching to make some proper dotcom-style panels. If you're going with ADE I'd be down to offset some of the costs if I can do some printing with you.
Good luck finding an Epoxy screen ink in a brick and mortar these days... or gloss enamel... Most conventional shops are going "green"

This is the next emulsion I'm going to be playing with:

http://www.silkscreeningsupplies.com/product/CCSVP-Q

Not sure if the latitude is as wide as CCI graphic emulsion or not but it is a one part type which is nice, and solvent friendly.
Last edited by coopersloan on Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by eolianmollisol » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:10 pm

nice job strasser :party:

I'm going to try my hand at electrolytic etching when I get my metal in the mail. Will see how it goes!
soils sustain life

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Post by medbot » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:22 pm

ehochstrasser wrote:After several months of experimenting (and winding up with very fuzzy graphics on guitar pedals) I've finally begun finding some confidence in my screen printing abilities. I've been using an extra translucency sheet for registration and this is where I need to focus my energies moving forward since it's a little off. In any case, here are some panels I did at lunch time today!

Image
Those look great, and I've been jonesing for that YuSynth EMS filter with a euro sized panel (that is what that is, right?). I'd be interested if you happen to make a few more :tu:

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Post by JRock » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:39 pm

Sorry I'm late :)

I screen print all the panels for AniModule.

I got 3 yards of screen and I stretch my own. Just pull it tight and staple it to the edges. I started making the frames out of glued together 1x 1 1/2" hardwood, coating it with Dorland's wax, then heating it for a bit in the stove to melt the wax in to the wood.

Now I cut them out of plywood on the CNC and paint on a layer of poly.

I use ADE (I get from Source One, I like it cause they're only about an hour away). A one quart can and a little jar of catalyst has lasted me 2 years and a ton of modules. That's also what I use to make our vactrols 8_)

I use the CCI DCM emulsion and it works Fantastic. I started out using Jaquard emulsion and it was fine too.

The screens get exposed under a 100W (equivalent) Fluorescent Lamp.

I built a little hingeboard out of a piece of MDF and a strip of maple(to raise the hinges to the correct height) and a couple of cabinet hinges. I tape a sheet of paper down, print on it for register dots, then use doublestick tape to hold the Front Panels in place.

Check out the Birth of a ShNoiZe photodoc in my sig.
The middle section is all about the Front panels.

You can see, once the panels are cut, all it takes are a few basic screen printing resources (ink, emulsion, screen and squeegee) and a little bit of hardware and hand tools you probably already have in your shop.

The thing it took most of was patience and practice (translation: FAILED ATTEMPTS, too many to count :bang: ) to get a good handle on what the steps entail and what works best for my set-up
:tu:

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