GMN printing capabilities: screen printing (part 2 of 3)

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By Andy Lampkin | Aug 06, 2014
Screen printing

In our last blog post we discussed GM Nameplate’s offset and flexo printing capabilities. Another printing process commonly used at GMN is screen printing.

Screen printing

This is a process in which ink is transferred through a woven mesh with pressure from a squeegee. There are multiple types of screen printing equipment at GMN, including sheet fed, multi-color sheet fed, and roll-to-roll printers.

Sheet fed screen printing

While one of the slower presses, sheet fed screen printing offers robust ink systems that can print on almost any substrate. It allows for opacity and has very tight color tolerances, making it an extremely accurate printing process-perfect for membrane switches and biosensors. This press is best for intricately designed parts, specifically in medical and other highly regulated industries, and for projects that require substrates other machines can’t handle.

Multi-color sheet fed screen printing

This method is a good option if the project has multiple colors. GMN's Seattle, WA Division has a 6-station carousel press that allows for a fast printing speed while reducing the amount of handling and risk of scratching sensitive substrates. The color tolerance isn’t as tight as the other screen printing equipment and it only allows for UV curing inks. Multi-color sheet fed screen printing is best for projects using UV inks and multiple colors due to the speed of printing 6 colors at a time.

Roll-to-roll screen printing

On a roll-to-roll screen printing press, lines are fed through the web press rather than entering each sheet manually. This method allows for fast press speeds of up to 1200 feet per hour and tight color-to-color tolerances. As mentioned in one of our previous blogs, Through-Hole Printing with GMN's new Webline Press, GMN recently purchased a one-color roll-to-roll screen printing press. The new press can cure ink with UV as well as with a forced air curing technique.  The forced air technique occurs when a contact dryer cures ink with forced air from the top of the dryer and hot plates beneath the surface. The webline press improves the process for printing electronic components by preventing smearing and allowing for printing on both sides of the substrate. Roll-to-roll printing isn’t recommended for products that are sensitive to scratches, such as overlays for switches. There is also a limitation on the substrate thickness, limiting the types of projects that can utilize this process. This press is ideally chosen for densely populated designs in high volume, particularly for electronic components.