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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago



For this project, I used the image created in the document ConvertImageWithGimp.

Here are the photos - http://flickr.com/photos/connors934/sets/72157594503018354/

There is also a process for taking the image created with gimp and cutting a stencil with the Roland Signcutter using the Fabuntu interface, which at this time has not yet been written.


This technique was developed in part through the guidance and advice of Ed Baafi and Amon Millner at the South End Technology Center Fab Lab.


There are a few advantages of using this technique. Having the image in the computer and 'printing' it with the vinyl cutter means that you don't have to get nervous about ruining your original artwork. You can also scale the image up or down. If you want to make a small print on one side and a big one on the other side, you can just cut it with a different size. You also don't permanently attach the stencil to the screen with this technique, so you can use the same screen over and over by keeping it clean after each use and peeling the stencil when you need a different image printed.


Stretch the screen

There are a few ways of doing this, the way I am doing it now was figured out by Jeff Nollner grade 11 Duxbury High School class of 2004.


Attach one side of the screen to the frame. Start in the middle with one staple, then stretch toward one end, staple it, then pull the other end, staple it. Get the middle locations, each time you put in a staple, it should be pretty much in the center of the gap. Sometimes it is good to put them parralel to the edge of the frame, then go back and put them at 45 degree angles. On the first side you don't need to put any tension on it while you are stapling, but on the next sides you do.


After you have one side completed, start in on the side opposite. Start with the center of the opposite side. Pull the screen very tight until you have the staple in the wood then let go after you staple. Next do the top corner and bottom corner. The next staples go into the center of the top and bottom gaps. When you have the side pretty much done, you can go back and put a diagonal one in the gaps. Tightness is important.


Next do either the top end or the bottom end. Same technique as above. When you are done, the screen should be uniformly tight and taught as a drum head.

Trim off the excess screen with a sharp knife. You might want to leave a little extra so you can pull and put more staples if you find a loose spot, but you don't have to. Be careful not to bump the screen at this point, you want it to stay tight.


Attaching the Stencil

The stencil material for this was made by avery. It came in a big long roll and was cut on a roland vinyl cutter. After it is cut, you have to weed out the parts you want to print by picking at them with a sharp knife, then pulling the part out.


When the weeding process is done, you put a low tack masking tape over the image to hold it in place. I used a sqeegee to make sure I got an even result. At this point, the cut vinyl is sandwiched between the low tack masking tape and the original backing that it came on. Theoretically, you can let it sit in this state indefinitely. In this example, it was a week between cutting the stencil and putting it on a screen.



With the screen tightly stretched, make sure there isn't a bunch of dirt or grit on the screen, that will keep you from getting a clean attachment. Make sure the stencil isn't too wide for the frame. If it is, you will want to trim it down. You can save the pieces you trim off to use as masking to cover the parts of the screen that you don't want to print.


Peel the manufacturer's backing from the stencil. Put the cut stencil on the inside of the frame, where you will be putting the ink. Rub it in place with your hands, and then with the squeegee to make sure you have a good connection with the screen. You can flip it over and look at the other side to see where it looks like it is stuck. When you feel like you have a good solid connection to the screen, then you can peel off the low tack masking tape. Pay attention to the stencil when you take the backing off. If any parts come off with the backing, you will want to stick them into place before you lose them.


If you have any spare scraps of vinyl, you can use them to cover any holes in the area around the stencil. Regular masking tape works fine for this, make sure any masking you do is pretty flat, because if you run the squeegee over a bump in the tape it will probably come out as a light spot on your print.



Printing the screen

Put some paper inside the shirt. Today was sunday paper day, so there was plenty around. Put a couple of sections in between the front and back of the shirt to add some tension to the screen and protect the back from the ink.


Take some ink out of the can and spread it above the image with an ink knife. Usually I would use a putty knife, but everything I could find was either way too big or a little rusty. I settled on an aluminum ruler. The ink knife should be at least an inch or so wide. This ink is water based, so it cleans up easily.


Position the squeegee above the ink and the image. It is very helpful to have a second set of hands at this point to hold the frame. You can use a printing frame with fancy hinged clamps, but that might not be available. With some pressure on the frame, push the ink over the image with the squeegee. The ink will be pushed through the holes in the screen where the parts of the image have been removed. Go back and forth a few times. If you have sides that are not completely blocked off, be careful, because you could print out the side.


Pull the frame up carefully and the shirt should stay in place. Hopefully you have a nice clean print. If you don't, you can try to reposition the screen over the image and try again, but it probably won't register properly. It might be easier to use misprints as test cases later.


Set the printed shirt off to a side to dry. It should be dry in a few hours by itself. You can speed up the drying process with a hair dryer, iron or something like that. Sometimes incandescent light bulbs have worked well. For the ink to really adhere to the shirt, you should heatset it with an iron or a drymount press.



Clean up

On this stencil I used paper towels first on the screen to wipe off most of the ink. Then I got impatient, and I used some citrus cleaner to get the ink out of the screen itself. This was probably a mistake, because the citrus probably eats the adhesive. Ultimately I just hit the thing with water to get it off. Maybe a glass cleaner or something like that would work. When I have used lacquer based stencils, a huge blast of water cleared if off pretty quick.


The shirts

If you print on a decent quality shirt, you should get a pretty good image and nice shirt that will last for years. If you choose 100% cotton, you could also do batik or tie dye on the shirt to really spice it up. Experiment with it and have some fun.


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