In order to get a high-quality print, one of the things that you need to pay attention to is the mesh size of your screens. What exactly is mesh size? In essence, it is the number of threads that cross each other per inch on the screen. For example, if you have a 156 mesh, there are 156 threads crossing per inch. The more threads that are crossing each other per inch, the finer the holes there are in the screen and the higher the mesh count you have.
What Comes into Play When Choosing Mesh Size?
There are two things that come into play when choosing mesh size, the detail of your print and the thickness of your ink.
Let's talk about the detail of your print first. When you have a higher detail print, you need a higher mesh count. If you used a lower mesh count, the lines or dots in the image would fall through the holes and you would end up with a print that is not a correct representation of your image. A lower detailed print requires a lower mesh count.
The thicker the ink you are using, the lower the mesh count you will want to use. The reason for this is that a thicker ink will be able to be pushed through a lower mesh screen a lot easier than a higher mesh screen.
Different Mesh Sizes
While there are many different mesh sizes, this guideline is meant to give you a basic outline.
- 40-86 mesh screens are used for shimmer and glitter inks. These types of inks have particles in them that would not pass through higher mesh ink. Lower mesh counts have larger holes which allow the particles to be pushed through the screen.
- 110 mesh allows you to lay a fairly thick layer of ink down. This mesh works well for block text letters and large spot process designs.
- 156 mesh lays down a thick layer of ink but allows you to have a higher detailed print than 110 mesh. It is also great for lower viscosity ink because the mesh doesn't allow too much ink to pass through the screen.
- 230 and 300 mesh screens are used for higher detailed prints and thinner inks. These mesh sizes can hold larger halftone dots, but we do not recommend these for four color process prints or fine detailed halftone printing. You also want to use these meshes for graphic and solvent-based inks.
- 355, 380, and 400 mesh screens are used mainly for graphic printing with UV inks.
For more information on choosing the correct screen printing supplies, check out Why Screen Printers Choose Allmade and What is the Deal with Squeegees and Why Should I Care?