Push or pull a squeegee… Many, many screen printers have a strong preference between the two. But really, which technique is better? Both are useful to screen printers for different reasons. Screen printing expert Josh Wells covers the benefits of pulling and pushing.
Overall, pulling is the most popular print stroke. You can capture more detail and have a stronger print stroke by pulling rather than pushing. However, pulling is more taxing on your body. Pushing still captures detail, and can be beneficial to use during long print runs.
With a push stroke, you can use your body’s weight for downward force to deposit ink on the garment. It's easier on your wrists and body, so you are able to print for longer periods of time.
The disadvantage of pushing is that it's harder to get sharp or low angles with your squeegee. This limits your control over the amount of ink laid down on the shirt. Pushing also makes it harder to maintain high detail for more complex prints like halftones.
With a pull stroke, you are able to control the angle of the squeegee better than a push stroke. At a low angle you can put more ink down and at higher angles, you can deposit less ink.
The downside of pulling is the strain it has on your wrists and shoulders.
Overall, pulling is great for a lot of jobs, but places more stress on your body. Pushing is easier on the body, but it doesn't have the precise control and detail that you can get with pulling.
WANT TO PULL BUT NOT BE IN PAIN? TRY THE EZ GRIP SQUEEGEE
The EZ Grip Squeegee makes printing with a pull stroke much easier on your body. With a push stroke, it works just about the same as a traditional squeegee.
Lee Stuart, screen printing YouTuber and owner of Rogue Lab MFG, is a big advocate for the EZ Grip Squeegee. When Lee first started printing, he was a pusher. Years of motocross and freestyle riding had damaged his fingertips all the way to his shoulders. Pulling a squeegee had been painful.
Then he tried the EZ Grip Squeegee. Its ergonomic, two-handle design reduced stress and pain on his wrists. He never experienced a painless production run since he started printing. It was a game changer.
“It greatly reduced the strain on my broken body, so I can print longer,” Lee said.
Since he wasn’t writhing in pain, he could try something he hasn’t been able to do — pull a squeegee.
“It converted me from a pusher to a puller, which means my print quality and consistency went way up,” Lee said.
Lee loved the EZ Grip so much, he launched his own edition of the squeegee. With a slick black handle, the EZ Grip—Lee Stuart Edition squeegee combines form and function.
Whether you’re a pusher or a puller, making sure you have the correct technique will help you get the most from every print stroke. If you haven’t tried one or the other, give both a shot. Pushing and pulling have different benefits. Knowing how to get the most from either technique will improve your printing game.