Dialing in your exposure time is a bit like using the “Goldilocks Principle.” You know one extreme causes an underexposed screen, and another causes an overexposed screen, but figuring out what’s “just right” can often involve some risky trial and error. An Exposure step wedge calculator can help you choose the perfect duration.
Using a film positive with gradient levels, an exposure calculator will let you know if you’re underexposed (4-6), or overexposed (9+). A perfectly exposed screen will display a gradient level of 7. An overexposed screen won’t allow for enough ink through your screen while printing— resulting in prints with poor detail. An underexposed screen means you’ve lost too much emulsion and you’ll be throwing too much ink.
An ideally-exposed screen with a gradient level of 7 will wash out easier, retain better detail, and last through even the longest print runs, while still being easy to reclaim. Do yourself a favor and invest in a screen printing exposure calculator. You’ll appreciate the time and stress savings.
Watch the video below to learn more about exposure calculators from Ryonet founder, Ryan Moor.