Basics on Squeegees for Screen Printing
There are a few important tools that anyone taking part in screen printing will need to become familiar with, and one of the most well-known in this arena is the squeegee. Used to press ink through the screen, squeegees are a vital component – and there are also several options that you might consider depending on your needs.
At Spandex, we’re happy to offer a wide range of screen printing supplies and equipment, from screen printing machines and inks to screen printing tools and accessories like squeegee blades and more. Here are some basics that any screen printer should know about squeegees – their purpose and some of the key qualities to be considering as you select the ideal squeegee(s) for your needs.
Purpose of Squeegees in Screen Printing
For those who are new to the world of screen printing, the squeegee is a tool that is used to apply pressure and force ink through the open spaces in a stencil onto a substrate material. This process transfers the desired image or design onto the surface being printed on. While it may seem like a simple tool, squeegees play a crucial role in achieving high-quality and consistent prints.
For instance, one of the main purposes of a squeegee is that it allows for precise control over the amount and direction of ink being pushed through the screen. This makes it possible to achieve sharp and defined lines, as well as varying levels of ink coverage for different effects.
Squeegees come in a number of varieties. Our next few sections will look at the most important factors to consider when selecting the ideal squeegee for your screen printing needs.
Durometer (Blade Hardness)
One of the most important considerations when selecting a squeegee is durometer, or blade hardness. Generally speaking, the harder the blade, the better it will be at transferring ink through fine details and onto substrates. Softer blades are better for thicker inks and rougher surfaces where more pressure is needed to push ink through.
The most common squeegee type, at least for garment-related screen printing, is likely the 70-durometer squeegee. These are considered a good all-around option, and offer the right balance of flexibility and rigidity for most printing jobs. However, there are many other durometer options available, including harder and softer options – and even including options like the triple-durometer squeegee, which alternates in a 70/90/70 pattern to allow for more ink to be laid down with limited blade deflection.
Another key factor to consider is the handle type used on a squeegee. There are three primary options typically found on the market today:
- Wood handle: Wooden squeegee handles are affordable and offer a comfortable grip. However, they may not last as long as other materials.
- Aluminum handle: These squeegees are lightweight and easy to handle, but can sometimes cause hand fatigue during extended printing sessions.
- Ergonomic handle: Also sometimes referred to as the “EZ grip” squeegee, these are designed to reduce hand fatigue and increase comfort during printing. They may cost more than other types of squeegees, but can be a worthwhile investment for frequent screen printers.
Generally speaking, the only hard and fast rule with squeegee size is that your squeegee should be at least one inch wider on each side than any image you are printing. In general, it’s a good idea to have a few different squeegee size options on hand so that you can choose the best tool for each specific print job.
At Spandex, we offer a variety of screen printing materials and tools to meet all your needs. Contact us today to learn about these or any of our vinyl, laminate and other products.