To create a stellar print, you need a solid screen. Using high-quality emulsion and dialing in exposure times help, but it's a fraction of what's needed. Your darkroom matters. One major update to make in your darkroom is to invest in a drying cabinet. It’s the perfect screen drying environment, equipped with everything you need to dry screens better. Let’s talk about how a drying cabinet can increase your darkroom’s potential and make your screen prep process that much easier.
WHAT’S A GOOD DARKROOM, ANYWAY?
The term “darkroom” may seem pretty self-explanatory. It is a room that’s dark, where printers can expose great screens. But what goes into creating a great darkroom? There are four main criteria that make a darkroom ideal.
- Light safe. There’s no UV light in the darkroom from doors, windows, overhead lights, and anywhere else light might sneak in. Replace overhead lights with yellow or red light-safe bulbs, and block out all daylight. The darkroom should feel like a cave.
- Warm, dry airflow. The ideal temperature of a darkroom should be pretty warm, about 75°-80°F. Humidity should be minimal, at least below 40% (and ideally below 30%). This will help dry screens quicker. For shops needing to decrease humidity in their darkroom, investing in a dehumidifier is a great idea. This will pull moisture out of the air, and can be placed directly in a drying cabinet. No matter the humidity and temperature of your shop, keeping a hygrometer in the darkroom is a great way to monitor humidity and temperatures.
- Airflow over screens. Warm, dry air is important, but it needs to be facing the right direction. Warm, dry air blowing over the exposure unit does no good. To direct the airflow over the screens, set up fans to blow across the screen rack as the screens are drying. In a drying cabinet, these fans are already built into the unit.
- Dust-free. One issue every shop faces is dust. Whether your darkroom is set up in a garage or a section of a warehouse, the dust gets into the darkroom no matter how hard you try. Why is this a problem? Well, dust can create pinholes on a screen, ruining the coating process and forcing you to spend more time degreasing the screen and starting over. To keep dust at a minimum, sweep the darkroom regularly, and place screen mesh over the back of fans to keep the airflow clean.
Now you know how to create the optimal darkroom. What if all those components could be solved in one stellar piece of equipment?
MEET THE BASELAYR DRYING CABINET
Looking for a solution to keep screens contained and dry them quickly? Maybe your darkroom is light-safe, but the humidity is all over the place, or the temperature can fluctuate throughout the day. There’s a solution for this: a drying cabinet.
Fully stocked with a large bank of 15 fans, 110 VAC outlet for an internal dehumidifier, exhaust fan, relative humidity & temperature gauge, and locking casters for easy mobility around the darkroom, this drying cabinet creates the optimal drying environment for up to 10 screens. Use it after reclaiming, degreasing, or coating screens with emulsion. The Baselayr Drying Cabinet dries screens up to 5 times faster, getting you out of the waiting period and into production.
SHOULD I USE A DEHUMIDIFIER?
One great feature of the Baselayr Drying Cabinet is the option to add a dehumidifier inside the cabinet itself. While optional, many shops will benefit from having a dehumidifier to help keep humidity levels as low as possible. The standard air circulation fans will dry screens but at a slower rate. Even a small dehumidifier can have a big impact.
NOTE: Max dehumidifier size for this drying cabinet is 14” wide x 7” deep x 14” high.
Humidity is a big factor when it comes to drying screens properly, so let’s touch on it again. Ideally, the humidity in a darkroom should not climb higher than 40%. Not all shops need a dehumidifier in their drying cabinet. Ask yourself how dry the climate in your area is. Shops in dry climates like Arizona may not need a dehumidifier, since humidity is generally below 30%. Shops in humid climates such as Florida, where humidity is regularly above 60%, should invest in a dehumidifier.
Pro Tip: The thicker the stencil, the longer the screen will take to dry. The relative humidity in the cabinet can be 30%, but the screen is still too moist inside the stencil. Think of it like a cake that is undercooked and is still gooey inside. The entire cake needs to be baked in order to eat it.
No matter your darkroom setup, a drying cabinet can benefit any shop. Cut out waiting for screens to dry and get started on projects quicker. The Baselayr Drying Cabinet is tricked out with everything you’ll need to make screen creation quick and painless.