Which Mesh Count Should You Use?
So you’re thinking about screen printing but you’re unsure about which mesh count to use? Choosing the right mesh count is one of the most important steps in screen printing and it’s worth putting some thought into. Let’s discuss the different options, uses, and advantages of mesh counts.
Screen mesh ranges from 16 lines per square inch to more than 400 lines per square inch. A higher mesh allows for more detail and a lower mesh allows for more initial coverage and opacity. I like to think of it in terms of video games. Remember the graphics in Nintendo games? That’s low mesh count. What about the graphics in PlayStation games? That’s high mesh count.
If the image you wish to print has fine lines or halftones, you will want to use something above a 200 mesh. You must also consider a higher mesh when printing smaller images to avoid pixelation.
Another factor to take into consideration when selecting your mesh is the ink you will be using. If you’re using a thick ink such as an unreduced plastisol or a dense water-based ink, they won’t do so well getting through the tighter web in higher meshes causing a lower ink deposit. Lower meshes are great for printing one color images with minimal detail onto darker materials. They are the best choice for printing an under-base in multi-color jobs.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you make a decision:
- 40-61 mesh count: These are the coarsest of meshes, used generally for high-density inks and inks containing glitter or shimmer.
- 86 mesh count: These are still rather coarse and are typical for under-base prints due to the opacity they provide upon the first stroke.
- 110-130 mesh count: These are the industry’s go-to for general jobs. They are considered medium coarse meshes great for not-so-detailed text and spot colors.
- 156-180 mesh count: A little higher in the medium coarse range, these meshes are great for achieving intermediate detail and printing onto light colored substrates.
- 200-250 mesh count: These are fine meshes that are used for achieving a light hand and high detail. Great for printing on white and light substrates.
- 300 and above: These are high, very fine meshes used for achieving extreme detail. Great for half-tone processes and multi-color detail.