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Stretching Screen Printing Screen??


PFG, Picture Framing God
Apr 12, 2001
Destin, Florida
After presenting such sage advice on the floor tile thread, I get one of these "projects" in myself!

A new printing company opened up here and they approached me with a pile of screen printing frames and a roll of bright yellow "screen" that they want stretched on these frames. My understanding is they have to either find a local person who can stretch these or they have to send them up to Georgia to a company that does the work and pay for freight up and back plus.

So, my quandry now is to find out what type of adhesive is used to stretch these screens and how they physically do the stretching. They are very taught, almost drumhead tight, and I can forsee using some type of contact adhesive to bond them to the frames almost instantly.

Has anyone had any experience with this and, if so, what do I have to look forward to if I decide to tackle this job? These people have alot of referrals coming my way and I would like to help them out if I can learn to do this stretching properly. Since I have dealt with them almost 3 months ago, they have sent over a half dozen paying customers my way and I would like to have that flow of framing continue.

Need some pro/con opinions on this one.

I did a very simple procedure to find this information. .. I typed it into the Google search engine.
"You start at one corner of the frame and work your way to the other. This will ensure that you have a taught screen. When you apply the staples, you should put them in at an angle because the screen will be less likely to rip if it's on an angle. Once you have the screen in place, you might want to tape the edges of the frame so that the screen doesn't fray."

Also, if you plan to do alot of these things, you should invest in an air powered upholstery
stapler. It will go ALOT faster and not cramp your hands trying to squeeze a hand stapler.

Sounds really easy. A little different than stretching canvas. The important thing is it needs to be real tight.

I have a Friend in the screen printing business. I have stretched some for him. I/We don't use any adhesive, just staples. You are right about the tightness. When you get done you should be able to bounce a quarter off of one.

I saw a machine in Atlanta last year the clamps the canvas with air and holds it while you staple. It would be nice to have one of these if you were going to do a ton of them. I believe it was around $1400 though, so you would have to do a lot of canvases to pay for it.

Just get them really tight.

I've been both framing and (fine art) screen printing for more years than I can recall.

Although we've stretched many a canvas over the years, I would never consider stretching my own screens. Aside from not being able to stretch with the exacting tolerances required of fine screen printing, stretching can be done by the "pros" in the field quickly and cost effectively (cheap!).

Although not an impossible task, this really is out of the realm of even the best picture framers.If you feel you must do this yourself, I would strongly recommend contacting a screen printing supplier to purchase the appropriate equipment and supplies to do the job. I have no idea of the costs involved; perhaps they are minimal?

Best of luck!

Some companies do us a type of contact cement, some use a grooved stretcher and cord system, and some just staple. Just remember to keep it tight & weave straight.

One other thing if I remember correctly, A piece of advice we give customers and other framers sometimes, You can't be everything to your customer Do what you do best and leave the rest until you are proficient at it other wise you may end up loosing that once good customer.
That said, we made a screen stretcher. It was not as fast as the $1400 jobs but worked well. material list 4 4" bolts 4 Wing nuts 2 2x4's 8" longer than your longest side. Bolt one to the edge of table so the 4" side is up, then bolt the other 2x4 to that off the table side. the fabric goes between the two. Kinda rough description but you should get it from there.
Take what you can use leave the rest!
What about routing a kerf and using a window screen roller? You can get that pretty tight and the cost would definitely be lower than getting that canvas machine posted a few weeks back.

Not as cool as buying a new tool, but definitely cheaper! As they say on Car Talk every project is an excuse to buy a new tool!
Thanks everyone for the responses.

I was not thinking of doing this as a side business. I wanted to check out how it was done and get an idea of the difficulty of the procedure. Y'all pretty well covered that portion of it.

I also did a Google search and found some information on stretching the screen. None of the used screens my customer brought in to show me were stapled. They were all glued down using something that is probably dedicated to the machine that was mentioned, I don't know for sure.

These people have been super nice to me and they have sent alot of business to me in the past few months and I wanted to return the gesture by trying to help them out if I could. It appears that I can't without investing more than I would make in the process.

Thanks for everyone's input and I think that I will tell them that it is beyond my capabilities to do a professional job for them. This was a fishing expedition to find out what y'all knew about the process and I found out enough to make a decision about it.

FG - I would offer to stretch at least one screen for them - just to see if y'all can do it! I have stretched screens for printers in the old days and we just used regular staples - as long as you can see the weave lines it should be esay to do it straight.

Give it a try - at least this way your customer will think you are really wonderful!!! If turns out well, you can gauge your time, materials and give them a price that makes sense to both parties.