How to Choose the Right Screen Mesh Size

From low count mesh to high count mesh, different mesh size used for different applications in the silk screen printing process. Mesh size is measured by how many holes or threads of mesh per inch. For example, 110 mesh(43T) screen has 110 holes/ threads per inch, and 43 holes/threads per centimeter.

Higher mesh count have the finer threads and holes in the screen mesh. The size of the screen mesh is related with how detailed your image is and how thick the ink you are using is. If you have an image with extremely high detail, low count mesh is not usable, you have to choose higher count silk screen printing mesh. The fine lines or dots in the image will simply fall through the holes in the mesh not giving you a correct representation of what your image should be. Also if you are using a thinner ink, the ink will also flood through the larger holes and soak onto your shirt or substrate making your image blurry as the ink bleeds.

On the other hand, if you are trying to print a thicker ink (such as white) through to high of a mesh screen, barely any ink will print through the silk screen mesh. Some times there are many different sizes available. But if the mesh count is nearly same, such as the difference between 155 and 156, 196 and 200, or 81 and 86, the difference is so negligible and small that it will not matter in your final results. Because there are so many variables involved in silk screen printing we can’t tell you exactly what mesh sizes are used for what applications. While we can give you a general outline of what sizes to use for certain types of screen printing.

The most standard mesh sizes are 110mesh (43T) and 156(61T). 110mesh (43T) use a very thick ink. It’s good for block text letters and larger spot color designs. 110mesh (43T) is a recommended mesh for white flash plates because many times you will only have to make one print impression which speeds up production time. 156 mesh (61T) also use a little thicker screen printing ink while offers you some higher detail ability in your image because the finer mesh. And also if you are printing with a little thinner viscosity colors of inks, you may want to use the 156 mesh so not too much ink is passed through the screens. Lower mesh counts such as 40-86 are used for shimmer and glitter inks. These kinds of ink have particles in them that will not pass through the typical mesh sizes. Therefore you need a lower mesh count with large holes in order for all the particles to pass through properly. Shimmer plastisol inks have finer particles in them so you could probably use 86 mesh (34T) while glitter inks have much larger particles so it would be recommended to use 40mesh (16T) or 60 mesh (24T). 200mesh (80T) and 230 mesh (90T) are mainly used for finer detailed images and thinner inks. These sizes screen printing mesh can hold larger half tone dots but they are not recommended for four color process prints or fine detail half tone printing. And graphic and solvent based silk screen inks that are much thinner should be used with these mesh sizes. Also if you would like a softer feel to the ink on your shirts you can print through these higher mesh counts which will let less ink through the screen giving you a much softer feel on the shirt. This can get tricky but many times a duller distressed look is wanted for the artwork but if bright vibrant colors are desired (especially white) you will have a hard time getting the opacity thick enough using these higher meshes. 305 mesh (120T) is used for extremely high detail textile printing and fine halftone four color process and simulated process prints. (Please contact us for more further information.) Fine half tone dots need high fine detail mesh to hold and expose on. Higher mesh count such as 355mesh(140T), 380mesh (150T), and 420mesh(165T) are used mainly for graphic printing with UV inks. UV inks are extremely thin and many times are used for high detail printing on signs, banners, or CD’s. Using a higher count screen mesh allows the automatic printers used in UV printing to regulate the amount of ink passed through the screens.

Exposure Notes: Different size polyester screen printing mesh sizes use different amount of emulsion, accordingl to how big the holes in the mesh are. For example, 110 mesh(43T) monofilament polyester screen mesh will hold much more emulsion than 305 mesh(120T). But the difference isn’t extreme, you will have to vary your exposure times slightly for different sizes of screen printing mesh. A finer mesh that holds less emulsion will expose faster then a lower mesh that holds more emulsion. But the difference is small so you may have to only vary as slightly as 5-10% in either direction, it depended on screen printing mesh size in order to get maximum exposure performance

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