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Direct-to-Screen (DTS) Systems vs. Conventional Coating Part 1

Posted by Caleb Morgan on 11/13/2018


Because it’s a special time of year, we’ve decided to put together a special two-part blog discussing a somewhat controversial or rather obscure topic in the screenprinting industry, DTS (Direct-to-screen) systems versus conventional screen coating methods. In this first part we’ll be discussing direct-to-screen systems and their benefits. The intent of this two-part blog is to offer an unbiased viewpoint on each method and equip customers with greater knowledge to be able to decide which screen-coating method works best for them. With that said, let’s get into it.

Shown here is the latest Spyder II DTS System from EXILE


DTS (direct-to-screen) systems have been around for the better part of 20 years and in the beginning, were extremely expensive, required many resources and lacked in the features department. However, recent innovations have allowed DTS systems to mature quite well. We want to discuss the Spyder II Direct-To-Screen System, manufactured by EXILE. The Spyder system uses a high-density thermal wax ink technology to produce high quality images quickly and accurately onto any coated screen. The Spyder II can handle frames up to 46” x 55”. The system prints at 600 dpi, which allows halftones up to 75 lpi. This system is a high-resolution device that can image screens at over two square feet per minute. The system offers a new, streamlined interface with easy to use touch screen controls. Offering nearly double the throughput of their previous model, the new Spyder II simultaneously offers improved print quality with enhanced dot placement. EXILE boasts a simplified structure, improved performance, control and long-term reliability for their Spyder II system. Long-term reliability seems to be paramount for any printer looking to add a piece of this technology to their workflow.

Reliability aside, let’s look at some of the practical aspects of DTS systems. The RIP software included in most DTS systems help to create a more efficient workflow, giving users the ability to integrate artwork into their shops server makes file transfers and post-print organization easier. Also, storage and retrieval of art becomes much simpler than filing transparencies and storing burned screens. Without the need for conventional exposure systems, DTS printing eliminates pinholes and cuts screen burn time in half because there’s no waiting on a vacuum exposure unit. This process also eliminates undercutting because there’s no way for light to reflect around the dot and narrow the gap of the image. One small but important detail that separates DTS systems from conventional methods is that the person cleaning the screen can see exactly what needs to be washed, thus ensuring all details are washed out properly. The typical screen creation process takes around 25 minutes to complete, whereas the DTS system takes around 7 minutes with most integrated DTS units. This factor alone can be huge for shops looking to expand and streamline their workflow. Employees who would otherwise be making/coating screens most of the day can be freed up to focus on other tasks.

If you’d like more information or are interested in purchasing options for the Spyder II DTS System mentioned in this article, click here. Be sure to check back tomorrow for part 2 where we discuss the benefits of conventional coating methods and what applications we think DTS is best suited for.

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