Screen printing or silkscreen printing is the oldest method of printing, but it is still one of the most widely used partially due to its simplicity but also because it is cheap and easily accessible. There are varying degrees of automation from simple hand-operated systems capable of printing one item at a time through to technologically advanced systems which can print multiple items in a production line and handling many items per hour.

Perhaps the most difficult element in the process is achieving the correct tension on the screen in order to effect and accurate transfer of the image. If the screen or mesh is not sufficiently tight, the image will be distorted and untidy. If it is too tight, the mesh can tear resulting in a waste of ink and damage to the substrate.

In all cases, the principle is the same. A mesh or screen is stretched across a frame, the desired image is created on the screen and from there the items to be printed are placed under the screen and ink is pressed through the screen. The image on the screen either allows or prevents ink from being transferred to the substrate in order to create the printed image.

The process of stretching and fixing the mesh with the correct tension has been time-consuming and often requires more than one person. The mesh is stretched and held in place while it is then secured using items such as tape and glue. The mesh then has to be held in place while the adhesives set to ensure that the tension on the mesh remains in place. Once a mesh has been secured on the frame, made of aluminium or wood, it is generally only removed when it is worn out as the process takes too long to repeat.

Local large-format printing and cutting systems specialist AM.CO.ZA presents a range of enhanced self-tensioning frames which can be used over and over. These frames simplify the process of applying, fixing and tensioning the screens or mesh through a simple design which does not require glue or adhesives of any sort and which can be efficiently and easily mounted by a single person. The meshes can also be easily washed and reused, whereas the original method often saw the mesh being damaged or destroyed when removed from the frames.

The AM.CO.ZA MeshMaster range of self-tensioning frames from Advanced Machinery is available in the common size of 300 x 400mm but also in the newly-introduced 400 x 500mm size for larger applications. The frames can be used in either manual or automated silkscreen printing processes. The MeshMaster system works by clamping the mesh using four aluminium clamps, one on each side of the frame which hold the mesh in place. Then a series of screws are tightened which gradually stretch and tension the mesh. Thereafter a set of rubber cushions are inserted which further tension the mesh without applying excess pressure and at the same time set the mesh above the frame to avoid unsightly marks.

The MeshMaster frames are supplied with all the necessary tools including hex key, drill key, rubbers, locking bars and a piece of mesh 1sqm in size which is sufficient for two or three screens depending on the size of the frame.

To find out more about the MeshMaster range of self-tensioning frames contact AM.CO.ZA or buy the frames on-line at

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