Reported by Christian Tamez
My first memory of screen printing would be at summer camp, years ago. We all got to make t-shirts with the camp logo on them. I remember that the screen printing machine was huge, and that I just somehow knew that screen printing was a kind of special thing to be doing yourself. Flash forward to the future, I had just been introduced to the wonderful machine that is the Cricut Expression and I was looking into what else Provo Craft had to offer, immediately the YUDU screen printer caught my eye.
Being able to personalize textiles is a huge thing for me; I love being able to customize anything I can get my hands on. With the YUDU you can create your own screens, with your own designs, to use for printing. With some care the screens are reusable, allowing you to create as many or as few screen printings as you want.
The machine itself serves as an all-in-one screening station; you can dry and hold up to two screens in a holding compartment in the lower part of the YUDU. The top has a lightboard with two different light settings, one being used to expose screens to whatever design you have chosen, and the other being a less bright light allowing you to properly place your designs, before you “burn” them into the screen.
Included with the YUDU is a 110 mesh screen, 110 meaning per square inch there are 110 threads creating the openings for your ink to flow. Also available are 220 mesh and new 40 mesh screens. The 220 is used for screen printing on paper, the higher number of threads allows for greater detail. Personally I find that I prefer to use the 220 mesh screens for all of my screen printing. The 40 mesh is a new screen designed for use specifically with the YUDU glue and new foil and glitter textiles out. To use the mesh you take an emulsion sheet, and adhere it with water. The emulsion sheet is photosensitive and this part should be done in a darker room, and only when you have placed your design and are ready to burn it into your screen.
The first project I wanted to share has to do with personalizing cardboard boxes and fabric squares for my honey. I took a sharpie and drew a honey bee design, scanned it into my computer and printed it on one of the transparency sheets. The first tip I have is to print out the design twice on two separate pieces of transparency paper and then tape the designs together. It’s very important to not let any light through any of the areas you’re trying to burn into your screen. Just using one transparency you run the risk of exposing an area just enough to not let any ink pass through, rendering your screen useless. Even though the emulsion will still wash off and you may see your design, there could be an almost invisible film inhibiting any ink from coming through. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
I always try and burn as many images into an emulsion sheet as possible, so I can use different areas of the screen for different projects and cut down on my need for new emulsion sheets. I usually keep my platten covered with parchment paper, this way I’m able to print a test print of my design and see where it’s going to be placed when it’s printed. To make it so that I’m able to position my item to be printed on, I draw around something either a template or cut out matched to the exact size, this way I get a pretty good idea of where my print is going to end up.
Once you start screening, it’s a good idea to be set up to print all of your projects. The actual printing process is very fast, and you don’t want any ink to lodge in your screen. The ink dries faster than you might think, I ruined one of my screens by stepping away for just a few minutes to answer the phone, when I came back I immediately washed the screen but to no avail, gold ink all lodged in. Which is why it’s a good idea to try and burn multiple images into your screen, I just moved on to another area of my screen to continue my project.
My second project had much more detail in it, a series of cartoons I drew, and wanted to put on a tote bag. The 220 mesh would be necessary in a project with fine lines like this. The main trick with this one was printing out the images twice and layering the transparency sheets so no light would get through the fine lines, not too difficult and it made all the difference. I also was determined to use glow in the dark YUDU ink, when I screened the image using just the glow ink, I wasn’t happy with the quality of the print. I mixed in some white ink, just to make the print stand out more, on the dark fabric. I was happy to find out that the white ink being added still allowed the glow ink to glow.
When you’re all finished with your project, if you haven’t destroyed your screen through the rigors of numerous printings, you can either store it for later use or use the emulsion remover to remove all of your design and leave you with a screen ready to be designed with again. I really like my YUDU, I don’t use it as much as I thought I would, but when I do need it, I’m glad I have it.
Here’s a video I made shortly after I got my YUDU, it’s the first time I ever used the thing, and it was easy enough for me to make a video out of it. I hope it explains things for you!
- Completely customizable – you decide what design you want to make, and with a fairly wide array of inks you can make almost any color
- Fast – Once you have your screen ready to use for printing, the actual printing process takes seconds, the ink sets pretty quickly
- Washable – Did you make a mistake? Wash it out, the ink is only permanent after being heat set, so go ahead wash your item and try again!
- Expensive – The emulsion sheets are very expensive and you only get two to a pack. Buy extras because accidents can and do happen with the emulsion sheets. All of the YUDU textiles are pricy.
- Inks had varied consistencies, some were chunky and some were runny
- If you step away from screening the ink can dry and lodge itself into the screen.
- The emulsion can be damaged when wet, take care not to damage your design when washing.
Do you have a YUDU? Are you screen printing with another cool tool? Leave a comment below and let us know!