Screen printers have lots of tools to work with when printing t-shirts. Whether you are into the fancy and indulgent screen printing supply items, or trend towards the necessary and low-cost, you have choices. Some of the key supplies all screen printers need are plastisol ink, t-shirt test tubes, and metal spatulas. One of the most important things are your squeegees. There is a lot of debate in the screen printing industry on which squeegee is best. For instance, do you go with aluminum or wood, and what durometer should you use for your print job. The debate on what is right can be endless because there is no right answer. How to choose the best screen printing squeegee depends a lot on your personal printing preference.
In this blog we’ve outlined some of the basic decisions for how to choose the best hand squeegee.
Wood or Aluminum
Your first question should be to print with aluminum or wood. Wood Squeegees, such as the Lawson Standard Hand Squeegee, can be more comfortable to hold for an extended period of time, and are better priced. Wooden squeegees have some weight to aid in manual printing, which many screen printers prefer. Wood handles have a propensity to stain but this does not affect their ability to print. In comparison, aluminum handles are lighter and make it easier to remove excess ink off the handle.
Durometer is the term used for how the hardness of the squeegee blade is measured. A lower number means the squeegee blade is softer, more flexible. For instance, a 60 durometer blade softer, while an 80 durometer blade is firmer. You want to match up your squeegee durometer to your print job as much as possible. While there is no set rule, generally speaking as the detail on your print and your mesh count go up, you should be screen printing with a higher number durometer. This is because a higher durometer squeegee puts less ink down on your t-shirt. Less ink is important in these situations where you need clean, fine lines and half-tones. Conversely, a lower durometer deposits more ink onto your garment and can be good for big block letters and spot colors. Sports jerseys for football, basketball, baseball and soccer can be good times to choose a low durometer squeegee.
If you are looking for a “go-to” squeegee, then a wooden squeegee with a 70 durometer is your best choice. This is the most popular squeegee choice because it has an average hardness and can print just about anything.
Composite blades are also available. These are squeegee blades that are consist two or three different durometers. For example, a triple squeegee could have a 60/90/60 durometer blade. These multi layers would be stacked to give a screen printer the benefits of different hardness.
Proper Care No Matter What
No matter what kind of screen printing squeegee you use, proper cleaning and care is vital to increasing its longevity. Make sure you rotate your squeegees when you go on-press to print a job. This will make your blades last longer along with giving you a more uniform print run. Make sure you wipe and dry your squeegee immediately after use; Store them in a dry, room temperature location. If they are wet, make sure to completely dry before printing with them.