What are stainless steel mesh screens? They are basically nets that are used in a variety of applications including construction, utensils and fencing. For example, step into any kitchen these days and you’re likely to see a stainless steel mesh screen sitting out on the counter, draining away the water from wet dishes and silverware. Stainless steel’s corrosion resistance makes the material highly amenable to this task.
But more commonly you’ll see stainless steel mesh screens used in the screen printing industry. That usage is the focus of this discussion. What follows is a rundown of the reasons why you as a screen printer will want to give serious consideration to a wire mesh screen constructed of stainless steel.
First and foremost, quality lies at the foundation of these mesh screens for the screen printing industry. Screen printers who use wire screens made of stainless steel enjoy the highest level of registration accuracy, precision control over their ink deposits and a superior level of abrasion resistance.
In addition, the mesh screens exhibit outstanding dimensional stability and narrow tolerance of thickness on the fabric being used in the screen printing process. As a result, printers experience more uniform and accurate aperture widths than ever before.
It is the strength of the material from which these benefits are derived. In particular, the strong quality of the steel allows for the use of thinner wire diameters. In addition, steel wicks away moisture, preventing it from being absorbed. It also is generally able to withstand both high and low temperatures as well as humidity with ease. Indeed, applied temperatures of up to 600°C (1112°F) can be handled.
Another benefit of using a stainless steel wire mesh screen is that it will maintain its shape and size. That is because the steel from which it is made resists shrinkage, stretching and sagging. As a result, the printer enjoys flawless screen printing every time, even after years of use.
Don’t let the assumed rigidity of the steel get in the way of giving wire mesh screens a try. They are actually more elastic than might be expected yet they still afford the user the dimensional stability s/he is seeking. This is true even in situations where the wire mesh is fixed at an angle to the stencil frame.
That elasticity, in fact, allows the screen printer to stretch a highly-tensioned, drum-tight screen and print with a minimum off-contact distance. The end result is the highest possible accuracy and the most consistently printed end product.
Finally, the wire used in stainless steel mesh screen has conductivity benefits in that it does not emit an electrostatic charge of its own.
So now that all of stainless steel wire mesh’s benefits have been outlined, in what screen printing capacities can the material be put to best use? The high tensile strength and yield stress properties of the stainless steel make the mesh especially amenable to stencil printing.
Wire mesh can also be calendered for defined ink deposits. This calendaring process removes air pockets present in all as-woven wire mesh. In turn, it forces the wire knuckles into their final positions, resulting in a screen that is stabilized very quickly.