The Essentials You Need in Your Screen Printing Kit

by Wendy Croxford

in Screen Printing Tips & Ideas

6 Feb 2019  | 0 Comments

Planning on creating your very first, personalised printed tee? There are a few essentials you always need to have in your screen printing kit.

Choosing what to include in your kit can be confusing at times, as different printers can have different methods and suggestions. However, these variations really depend on your personal preferences, and what really matters are these few essentials:

Screen – Of course, you’ve got to have a screen in order to screen print. Screens come in a lot of different sizes and which one you choose really depends on the size of your print. They also come in different mesh counts, and the right mesh count will depend on how detailed your design is and how thick your ink is. The more detailed your design, the higher your mesh count should be otherwise the ink will simply fall through the larger holes of the screen, bleed and make your print blurry. If your ink is quite thick however, you’ll want to use a lower mesh count or else not much ink is going to go through your screen.

It can be a bit tricky choosing the right mesh count, but a good standard mesh count to go for, especially for your first time, is 43T or 110TPI. It lays a fairly thick layer of ink down and is great for printing block letters and large spot colour printing.

Printing press or screen clamps – There are many different types of screen printing presses but to start out a one-colour, table top or bench top, press would be suitable. A press includes a platen which will make it easier to properly line up your t-shirt, tote bag or whatever you are printing onto. The other option is to use screen clamps to hold your screen steady as you print. There are removable clamps or clamps that are permanently secured to a table. Which option you choose depends on your budget and working space.

Squeegees – These, of course, are for spreading ink on your screen. You can have a couple of different sizes, depending upon the size of your screen and print.

Screen Printing Inks – There are a variety of screen fabric inks you can choose from, but in our opinion water-based inks are the best. Water-based inks for printing are easy to work with and easy to clean. The Permaset Aqua range come in a great array of rich, vivid colours. Permaset Aqua are eco-friendly inks, containing no ozone depleting chemicals, aromatic hydrocarbons or volatile organic solvents.


Emulsion and emulsion scoop coater – These are used to coat your screen and allow you to ‘burn’ images for printing onto the screen.

– Film or a stencil – there are different ways of placing your artwork onto the screen for printing. If your design is simple, you can make a stencil using paper and a scalpel. Another way to do it, is to hand draw your design onto film using an opaque pen and then expose or ‘burn’ the film onto the screen using emulsion. More intricate, detailed designs which have been created digitally can be printed onto the film using an inkjet printer. If you don’t want to prepare the screen yourself you can use a film output service from a screen printing supply company.

– Screen tape or masking tape – Used to mask off any openings on your screen where you don’t want ink to flow through.

Old magazines, cardboard or newspapers – These aren’t printing tools you can buy at the craft store, but they are essential nonetheless. They’re good for catching drips and spills, and also placed inside the shirt to be printed on to make sure the print doesn’t seep through and print on the back of the shirt.

Old spoons / Spatulas– Again, not something you have to buy at the store but essential for scooping inks onto screens.


Additional Items for Advanced Screen Printers

For those who are a little more experienced at screen printing, you may like to keep other materials in your printing arsenal, such as:

  • Colour cards – These cards feature samples of all ink colours available and are great for viewing and selecting ink colours.
  • Thickener – A thickening agent for printing media.
  • Anti-bleed additive – An additive designed to prevent ‘bleeding’ or ‘hazing’ of prints and produce prints with a more solid definition.
  • Synthetic fixer – An additive which improves the adhesion of inks to substrates.
  • Binder – A product added when bleeding or washout problems occur due to too much tinter.
  • Retarder – Designed to slow the ink-drying process so no clogging of the screen occurs.
  • Fabric softener – An additive used when you want a softer feel to the finished print.
  • Table adhesive – Provides a sticky table surface, thus eliminating any movement of the fabric while printing.
  • Print paste – Dilutes printing inks and is also a good base for mixing your own ink colours.


Are you all set to print? If you’re still lacking a few of these essentials, simply visit our Permaset Accessories page to find and purchase a full set of screen printing essentials. You could also buy a complete screen printing starter kit for your first printing projects! Visit our online shop today!


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