xTool Screen Printer Simplifies Silkscreen Stencils By Using Laser Engraving
Despite the emergence of numerous printing technologies in recent years (e.g. sublimation, direct to garment), good old screen printing remains arguably the best one of the lot. They let you do high-quality prints that last many years at high volumes in a speed that other options just can’t beat. Only real problem is, setting up a design on a silkscreen can take up to a full day and that’s if you don’t make a mistake somewhere along the way. The xTool Screen Printer changes that.
Traditionally, putting a design on a screen involves printing the design onto a film sheet, applying photo emulsion to the screen, and, once it dries, placing the sheet on top. From there, you expose the assembly to UV light, causing the emulsion to harden and the design to set in, after which you can then rinse off any excess residue to turn up the final stencil. It’s a tedious process that’s, pretty much, remained the same for many decades.
The xTool Screen Printer overhauls the creation of screen printing stencils entirely from start to finish, simplifying it every step of the way. It starts out with a newly-designed frame that employs four tensioning strips and six quick-pull wrenches to let you set up a uniformly-stretched screen in just 30 seconds. This frame is reusable, so you just take out a screen and put in a new one, allowing you to use the same frame for all your projects.
It doesn’t use traditional silkscreens, either. Instead, it uses one that’s precoated with an adhesive, which you’ll probably have to purchase from the outfit. However, once people figure out what kind of chemical they’re using (probably some kind of plastic), chances are, you can make your own to keep costs even lower. At any rate, the frame housing this pre-coated screen is then placed inside the included laser engraver’s build area which will cut the design onto the screen. That’s right, the laser simply engraves the design onto the coating without damaging the screen to create the stencil, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to put the design on a screen. It uses the outfit’s D1 Pro 5W laser engraver, by the way, which boasts 0.01mm precision, so it should be able to preserve every discernible line and pixel in whatever designs you’re putting on the stencil.
The xTool Screen Printer also includes an actual printing rack, so you can start printing shirts as soon as the stencil is done. It features a quick-release frame clamp that makes it possible to swiftly switch to a new frame within 10 seconds, which can prove handy if you want to print multi-color designs without having to invest in multiple racks (you’ll need to have multiple frames, though, unless you want to switch screens each time out). The printing rack comes with a vertical motion axis and two rotational axes for making micro-adjustments on the fly, which, again, can prove indispensable once you’re working with multi-color designs. It’s not limited to printing shirts, either, as the rack can be adjusted to accommodate printing on objects up to 60 mm (2.4 inches) in thickness.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the xTool Screen Printer. You can reserve a full set for pledges starting at $499.