Why Advanced Printers Need to Use Baselayr Complete Emulsion and How to Use It

Advanced screen printers. High production print shops. We’re talking to you. If you’re pushing the limits of your emulsion, check out Baselayr Complete. Wondering how it'll work in your screen print shop? Screen printing expert Colin Huggins addresses what kind of darkroom you need for this emulsion, guidelines for coating screens, and tips for capturing even more detail. 

WHAT IS BASELAYR COMPLETE?

Baselayr Complete is the Cadillac of emulsions. Baselayr Complete is an SBQ emulsion. It has a chemical makeup that includes strong resistances to inks like high solids water-based, solvent, UV, discharge, traditional water-based, silicone, and plastisol. Complete can handle it all. 

RELATED: THE LOWDOWN BETWEEN BASELAYR COMPLETE AND CRYOCOAT

DIALING IN THE DARKROOM

To perform at its best, Baselayr Complete needs a dialed-in darkroom. 

First, the space. As with all emulsions, Baselayr Complete requires a warm, dry darkroom to work. Keep the humidity in your dark room below 40% (ideally around 30%). Your darkroom should also be completely light safe.

Next, the equipment. You need a higher-powered exposure unit with a vacuum lid to get the most from Baselayr Complete. A metal halide exposure unit is the best light source. If you’re using LED bulbs, they need to emit light in the 405 nanometer range

RELATED: COMPRESSION VS. VACUUM EXPOSURE UNITS

If you don’t have this setup, check out Baselayr Long Lasting. It has the same emulsion characteristics, but it’s more forgiving with less-than-ideal darkrooms and exposure units. 

A bottle of diazo sitting on a counter

SHOULD I ADD DIAZO?

Baselayr Complete can easily hold the necessary details for both SIM process and CMYK print jobs. So why add diazo? Diazo will be your solution if you need even more detail in your design, you’re looking to push the boundaries on resolution, or you need your stencil to hold up during a long print run. Baselayr Complete diazo is sold separately, and is weighed out specifically for Complete emulsion. 

Diazo can add a lot to your emulsion’s capabilities. If you can’t resolve the detail you want, don’t blame the diazo. You still need to properly coat and dry your screens to get the most from the emulsion. Make sure your darkroom elements are dialed in and that you’re using the correct exposure unit. 

COATING SCREENS

As with any emulsion, test multiple coating techniques and exposure times to discover what’s best for your production. 

In general, a thinner layer of Baselayr Complete is best on higher mesh counts so you can capture fine details. A 1X1 coat will maintain the best details. Otherwise, standard coating suggestions apply to Baselayr Complete. A 2X1 coat is best for plastisol ink, and a 1X2 is best for water-based ink. For inks that need a heavy ink deposit, try a 2X2 coat. Remember that the thicker the emulsion coat gets, the harder it is to resolve detail.

PRO TIP: It’s easy to create a thicker coat of emulsion with thin thread mesh. Pull back a little when coating the screen. Tilt the scoop coater back a bit to maintain a thinner coating. 

RELATED: MESH COUNT AND YOU

A man reaches into an exposure unit to grab a screen

EXPOSURE

Once your screens are coated and dry, it’s time to expose. Exposure times vary depending on your emulsion thickness, mesh and thread counts, standard vs. thin thread mesh, and your light source. These factors will also affect the amount of detail you can keep on a screen. 

Use the 21-step grayscale calculator to dial in your exposure times. Once you rinse out the screen, you'll have a better idea of how long you should expose. If you’d like to see some suggested exposing times, check out the product data sheet

Baselayr Complete does just about everything. If you need the most out of your emulsion and your darkroom is dialed in, Complete is the perfect emulsion for you. 

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