xTool Screen Printer Accelerates Screen Printing With Laser Engraving  

Published on May 2, 2024 by Astrid Z.

Screen printing is a centuries-old technique that is appreciated by artists and hobbyists alike. Famous pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein used screen printing to create and reproduce their unique works. Warhol’s famous “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn”, for example, was screen-printed and sold at auction for $195 million. However, the technique Warhol used for this work can also be easily practiced at home. Although traditional screen printing involves a great deal of effort and takes a long time, there are now inexpensive devices that counteract this problem. xTool, for example, has a screen printer in its range that considerably speeds up screen printing by integrating laser engraving. 

Traditional screen printing is a form of direct printing in which ink is applied to various materials and surfaces. The print results are abrasion-resistant and weatherproof and therefore last for many years. But stencils must be produced beforehand so that the motifs can be applied. This is achieved by stretching a screen-printing mesh (screen for short) in a frame and applying a water-soluble coating. A photo positive of the motif is then placed on the mesh and exposed to light to transfer it to the screen. The light makes the coating waterproof, and it only stays water-soluble where the motif had covered the screen. 

Traditional screen printing takes several days.

This screen stencil can then be stretched over the desired material and the motif is printed onto the undersurface by applying ink. This process involves several phases of washing and drying and is very time-consuming overall. xTool wants to simplify screen printing and, above all, make it faster and more efficient. To this end, the company has developed a screen printer that creates the stencils using laser engraving.   

Using the laser eliminates the 24-hour waiting time for the screen to dry in the traditional process. This removes the need to handle emulsion layers, work in the darkroom and clean the screen with chemicals. While the traditional screen-printing process takes up to two days, the laser-supported xTool process shortens it to 1-3 hours. This benefits not only professional artisans, but also hobbyists who want to try their hand at screen printing or duplicate their creations and work more time-efficiently.  

The xTool screen printer is supplied with a screen coated on both sides. As in the conventional process, this is stretched and fixed in a frame. The coating works like a mask and can be lasered away using a laser to create a stencil. Where the laser strikes the coating, a close-meshed mesh of stainless steel appears. The paint is then pressed onto the desired substrate.   

Not only does the laser beam significantly reduce the time required to create the stencil, but the stencils are also much more accurate. The laser beam can reach a precision of up to 0.01 mm and even stencils with numerous fine details can be created without any problems. However, keep in mind that using a suitable laser machine is essential for this. 

The combination of screen printer and laser cutter means that the stencils for screen printing can be produced more quickly.

xTool itself offers various laser cutters, for example the user-friendly S1 or the D1Pro. Any other brand of laser cutter can also be used without negatively affecting the result. Still, as lasers have different strengths, it is worth opting for a powerful laser cutter. 

Functions of the xTool screen printer

xTool aims for user-friendliness and accessibility with its products, which is why the devices are equipped with various functions that ease operation and contribute to positive end results. The xTool screen printer is supplied ready to use and in a compact design. With its dimensions of 615.9 x 293.5 x 208 mm and weight of 9.35 kg, it is a space-saving device that is sure to find its place in a home workshop. The screen carrier has a working surface of 29.3 x 40.6 cm and can be adjusted to different height differences so that materials up to 60 mm high can also be processed. The frame clamp with the quick-release fastener helps to ensure that the stencils can be changed extremely quickly and the squeegee can also be attached effortlessly.   

For successful multi-color printing, the xTool screen printer is also equipped with a vertical movement axis and two rotation axes. This 3-axis positioning guarantees precise adjustment of the screen. The axes can be adjusted using rotary knobs so that working with pinpoint accuracy on complex creations is no problem. The double-sided coating of the screen also contributes to pleasing results and ensures that ink-thin prints can be produced. The coating also increases the service life of the screen. Screens that have been engraved with a laser also outlast several printing processes.  

These functions are particularly useful for beginners, but professional users also benefit from the efficient and time-saving production with the xTool screen printer. Creative professionals can try their hand at printing on various materials such as fabric, paper and wood. 

xTool sells its screen printer in several kits and combination packages. The Basic Kit includes the screen printer and various additional materials such as squeegee, storage box, colors, spatula, cutting mat, etc. The Multicolor Kit contains slightly more utensils and, unlike the Basic Kit, comes with three frames, twelve stencils, two editions of each color and two frame mounting pieces. It is also possible to purchase the screen printer directly with a laser cutter. xTool offers combination packages with the D1Pro and the S1 in different laser powers. You can find out more HERE 

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*All Photo Credits: xTool

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