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Screen printing start-up guide
Last Updated: 05/13/2019

NovaCentrix Metalon® screen printing kit

Available Now


Summary

Novacentrix offers a kit of materials for industrial and academic research and development groups to learn about new developments in the field of screen printed electronics firsthand. This kit is being used for small production runs of prototype parts for integration, environmental, device functionality and durability testing, which allows process designers to begin to address the challenges and understand the benefits of device fabrication by screen printing.


Screen printer with a screen propped up on its kick stand

What comes in the kit

  • Screen with standard 700 square sheet resistance test design (8" x 10" frame with 5" x 7" printable area)
  • Round and straight edge squeegees
  • 250 sheets of Wausau exact index (paper is the recommended substrate for copper ink)
  • Printing back plate with clamp hinges and stand off spacers
  • Spatula

Curing

HPS series inks may be cured in a conventional oven.

ICI-021 cannot be cured in a conventional oven. Prints of ICI-021 may be shipped to NovaCentrix for curing using PulseForge® tools. After printing, please dry the prints at 100 C for 3 minutes. Please ensure that a NovaCentrix engineer is aware of your shipment before it is sent and send a return label to expedite the process. Prints cured on the included Wausau exact index paper should attain the properties stated in the ICI-021 datasheet.

Who should buy a screen printing kit from NovaCentrix

This kit is geared toward those who are experienced in electronics but not in printing. The equipment selected for this kit was chosen because of its ease of use and consistent results.

Setup

Instructional video

Clamp the screen in the hinge clamps and ensure that it is level and in contact with the spacers by pushing down on all 4 corners. Push on the screen itself, you should find that there is a gap between the bottom of the screen and the aluminum back plate. This is called the snap-off. This setup has a constant snap off. If you need to increase this gap you may unscrew the standard spacers and clamp hinges, add shim stock underneath all four points then screw it back down.

Wet a lintless wipe with De-ionized water and then wipe the screen to pre-wet the emulsion. Be careful not to use so much water that the screen image floods with water down to the substrate.

Set the screen on the kit stand and lay a bead of ink close to, but not on, the image as shown below.


Ink bead placement

Now push this bead toward the hinges with the squeegee blade angled away from you as shown below:


Ink flood

You will find that the round squeegee floods and prints a thick layer of ink and the square edge squeegee floods and prints a thin layer.

Place your substrate between the spacers with the top edge aligned to the aluminum edge as pictured below.


Printing alignment

Bring the screen down. Remember to set the kick stand out of the way.

Printing

Hold the squeegee at a high angle with the blade closer to the hinges than the handle. You goal is to maintain an angle of 70 degrees during the entire stroke. For beginners it's often easier to print sitting a rolling chair, holding the arms completely still with the squeegee at the desired angle then rolling the entire chair back with the legs.

With the snap off of this screen printing setup it should not require very much force to print. Excessive force will cause the squeegee blade to bend changing the angle. Use just enough force to close the gap between the screen and substrate completely.

Your first print with likely appear smudged, don't worry, you will rarely get a perfect print from the first print of the run.

Push the ink bead back the same way you for the first ink flood. Each time you print make sure you have bead of ink on the squeegee both for flooding and for printing. If this ink bead begins to run low, you can add more ink. You will be able to print 20-30 times with out much trouble but it is recommended to print in a humidified environment if you plan to have ink on the screen for longer than 1 hour especially when using silver ink.

In order to print on non-porous substrates using this setup it is recommended to use HPS series silver ink as well as a de-ionizing blower for best results. ICI series inks do not cure satisfactorily on non-porous substrates.

For further details please see the printing instructional video.

Clean up

When you are finished with a print run remove as much ink as possible with your spatula. Often you can put this ink back in the jar, just be careful not to end up add a lot of dehydrated ink back to the jar. Once you have removed all you can easily scrape up, place a paper towel where the substrate was and wet the entire top side of the screen with DI water. Lay paper towels down on top of this to soak up the ink. You can rub the top side of the screen with a paper towel since this side is composed entirely of steel wires just be careful not to press to hard on the screen. Repeat this process several times until the top side of the screen is relatively clean. Now, flip the screen over and repeat on the emulsion side. Here you should be very careful, do not rub on the emulsion. Use light pressure, lots of DI water and the screen cleaner of your choice. Once you have finished with the emulsion side, rinse the screen and set it out to dry.


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