The Manual Print Stroke

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The purpose of the print stroke is to lay down the proper amount of ink on your garment, with minimal effort and exertion on the part of the printer. You have two options when it comes to printing on a squeegee for a clean print stroke. If the press is too high compared to the operator, extra effort will be required for a proper stroke. Shorter operators can stand on a platform to allow for a downward push on the squeegee and to ease excess printing effort.

The Pull Stroke
With a pull stroke it is not necessary to “flood” your screen with ink. Flooding the screen means to pull ink across the print area before you apply pressure for the final print. This flooding process comes from printing with inks that may dry in the screen such as water-based inks. Plastisol will not dry in the screen, so flooding is an unnecessary additional step.

Grasp the squeegee with both hands (for a full chest print) with a bead of ink all the way across the face of the squeegee. Hold the squeegee at approximately a 60 degree angle with the handle leaning toward you. Pull toward you with enough pressure to cause the sharp edge of the squeegee blade to come into contact with the shirt, and to clear the ink from the print area as you print. Use a slow stroke as your ink will be somewhat thick.

At the top of the screen, scoop up excess ink and return the squeegee to the bottom of the screen. Lift the screen and see the result. If you didn’t quite get enough coverage with your first print, lower the screen and pull the squeegee again, making sure you sheer all the ink from the print area of the screen.

The Push Stroke
The push stroke means you will have the squeegee close to your body and push it toward the bottom of the screen. To start the process, you will pull the squeegee toward you, with just enough pressure to flood the print area with ink.

Hold the squeegee at the same 60 degree angle with the handle leaning toward you. Push the squeegee toward the bottom of the screen. Use enough pressure for the sharp edge of the squeegee blade to sheer the ink from the print area completely.

Either technique will work, and will be a matter of personal preference. You will see both methods used in the industry.

The Goal

Real success with the print stroke comes from repeatedly doing the process yourself.

We can talk about the technical knowledge, but the real training will come as a result of you physically printing multiple shirts.

Your goal is to print with one stroke. First, one stroke will be much easier on you when printing multiple garments. Second, each print stroke will lay down more ink on the garment. Too much ink and you will begin to lose your sharp edges and halftone dots. Too much ink will also cause your print to be thick and glossy. One stroke should give you a preferred thin, matte finish print.

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