Screen mesh is confusing. Have you found yourself browsing websites that sell screen printing mesh and found yourself wondering, 61, 205, 110, what do all these numbers mean? All I want to do is print! HELP!
The first thing to remember is that the higher number screen mesh counts get finer and finer as the count goes up. This means the holes in the screen are smaller. If you are printing an image with a ton of detail, a higher screen mesh will work perfectly. Don’t forget to use a finer ink with it as well. Trying to squeeze thick ink through a 305 screen will drive you nuts and only result in sore arms and shoulders.
Same rule of thumb goes for lower screen mesh; these should be used for specialty inks and images with low details. If you are printing something with a lot of fine lines, those details may not even show up on a low mesh screen because the screen can’t hold the detail.
To make things even more confusing for all of us, mesh manufacturers have slightly different mesh counts. The general rule is to find a mesh that is close to your desired count (generally a difference of 4 or 5). The difference will have little impact to your final product. So don’t stress if you can only find a 200 screen when you want a 196.
Here’s a guide to the different counts and when to use them:
40-61 mesh count: Use for your fun inks – shimmer, glitters, and high density inks
86 mesh count: Use to print bold copy on dark color fabric
110 mesh count: The go-to mesh as it is great for most projects like spot color and text
156 mesh count: Use on light color fabrics with regular image detail and medium ink density
200-240 mesh counts: A fine mesh count and should be used when a soft-hand feel is desired. Very good for high detail images and can hold larger half-tones
305 plus: Super fine! And should be used for crazy, insane detail, halftone four-color process, and simulated process prints