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Selecting Proper Mesh Count in Screen Printing

Posted by Bruce Basen, Outside Sales on 4/2/2013
If you are relatively new to the screen printing process, determining screen mesh count can be a confusing and un-scientific process - often for more experienced printers it is considered more of an experienced art form.  It is an important factor in determining the amount of screen printing ink that will be deposited as well as the amount of detail the screen can hold. 

The mesh size is measured by how many threads there are per square inch. For Example, an 86 mesh screen has 86 threads per square inch. The higher the mesh count, the finer the holes are in the screen allowing finer detail but also reduces the amount of ink you can deposit. The size of the mesh has a lot to do with how thick the ink you are using is. How detailed your image is also a consideration in the mesh count selection. 

 If you have a design with extremely high detail, a lower mesh screen won't hold the fine lines or dots in the image and they will simply not show up causing a lack of detail in the finished product. On the other hand, if you are trying to print a thicker ink (such as white) through too high of a screen mesh, barely any ink will print through the mesh as the holes are too small. You may notice that different companies have slightly different sizes available. If the mesh count is fairly close, such as 156 vs 160, 196 vs 200, or 81 vs 86, the difference is so small that it doesn't matter because you won't see a significant difference in your final product. 

 There are many variables involved in silk screen printing so we certainly cannot tell you exactly what mesh sizes are used for all applications. However, the following is a general outline of what sizes to use for basic types of printing. 

proper mesh selection one of the many keys to a proper print

Consider the following guidelines for general purpose
screen printing jobs 

1. 40-61 mesh count - considered very course mesh counts. They are used for shimmer, glitters and high density inks. Shimmers and glitters have particles in them that wil not go through the finer screen meshes. 

 2. 86 mesh count - considered a course mesh and will provide a heavy ink deposit for high opacity. It is typically used for printing bold copy onto dark colored fabric. Typical use is a white underprint for an athletic look. 

 3. 110 mesh count - considered a medium course screen, it is by far the industries choice as the "do-it-all" mesh. Great for spot colors and text. 

 4. 156 mesh count - considered a medium screen mesh. It is commonly used for printing onto light colored fabrics with regular detail and medium ink deposit. 

 5. 200-240 mesh counts - considered a fine mesh count for printing onto white or light colored goods with a soft hand feel. Very good for high detail artwork. It can hold large halftone's but is not recommended for four color process prints or fine detail half tone printing. 

 6. 305 and higher mesh counts - considered very fine mesh counts is used for extremely high detail textile printing and fine halftone four color process and simulated process prints.

Along with our comprehensive selection of amazing screen printing equipment packages, Texsource prides ourselves on our ability to help you, our customer (and even if you are not yet a customer!).  If you find yourself challenged by a particular situation, we speak screen printing here - call us and let us help you, even if you just need some advice on determining mesh count!

UPDATE - Dwayne Collins of Texsource gives a video overview of Mesh Count Selection



Jonathan wittaker
Date: 3/4/2015
I want to print small script text as well as larger script text. What screen count would i need?
Date: 5/5/2015
@Jonathan - As others have said, I would certainly try to use what you might have in your shop from 150 - 240. The size of the font you use will certainly play a factor, but the detail level of that font is equally important. Block letters, even if small, require very little detail, while some fonts have fine details even at larger sizes. Analyze the font you have chosen.
Date: 5/12/2015
Hi Interesting article. We use 150 mesh to print on ABS and other rigid plastics for outdoor use. I am facing an issue that fine text of 8 point is not visible. We are finding in today's market there is more need for this fine text to be visible. I was thinking about moving to 240 mesh keeping in mind that we still need outdoor durability. Please can you advise
Date: 5/13/2015
@Devin, exactly what I had said in another comment, the detail of the font selected will also play a factor. In your case, the 'close-up' detail won't be as much of a factor since you are dealing with outdoor signs, and most people who see it won't be close enough for the fine detail to matter anyway. I might use the 240 for the detail, because I take pride in my work, but from a distance that detail will be lost on most.
Date: 9/16/2015
Hello, I'm currently about to take on the task of putting numbers onto jerseys. Which mesh count should I use? I have a 110 screen. Would an 86 screen be better?
Date: 9/17/2015
@Jamel, what substrate are you using? You will need to smaller count if you are printing on something like a football jersey that is a very 'loose' material (breathing holes, etc) but on smoother substrates such as say a soccer jersey you might do just fine with a 110. Check out the new Silicone inks in our inks section - it is ink that is especially great for athletic jerseys.
sachin chaudhari
Date: 4/13/2016
sir i haven working in screen printing prodcut development deptt and i have more confusion on mesh selection. please guide me for mesh selection, we have mesh 77T, 100T, 120T 150T etc. at this mesh please guide me what is difference and uses of each mesh thank you, regards, sachin
Date: 4/29/2016
sir.. what should the mesh i use in the face?
Roger Guest
Date: 9/21/2016
We are about to print solid colour (black) logos onto jute carrier bags. Some of the logos have fairly fine detail with reversed out sections with thye jute substrate showing through. Would 110 screen bo OK
Date: 9/21/2016
@Roger - A 110 is likely the most versatile and used screen mesh in the industry, and for good reason. It yields good detail while remaining quite easy to push most inks through. Obviously it would be impossible to determine whether it is the *best* mesh for your job without seeing the detail, but I can say that a 110 can give likely more detail than most would assume. Unless your detail is *very* fine, you might try to run a print on a test pellon and examine the results. Hope this helps!
Date: 9/30/2016
Hello I was wonder mesh should I use for a drawing character should I just use 110 ?
Date: 9/30/2016
@Mario - This would of course depend on the detail of your character and artwork. If you want great detail and you have a higher mesh available, I would try maybe around a 180. If the 110 is all you have at hand then give it a try, but test your print on a test pellon for evaluation before you commit to a batch of shirts.
Date: 10/5/2016
Can you use shimmer ink on a 156 screen?
Date: 10/5/2016
@Keath - you would probably want to use nothing smaller than around a 110 mesh – we usually recommend anything from a 60 to a 110, but results using mesh sizes smaller than that will definitely decrease the desired effect. Hope this helps!
Date: 1/23/2017
Hi, I am looking to do some printing on burlap. What would be the best mesh to use? I don't mind having a bit of a rougher look so I am looking for a perfect transfer of color. Thanks very much for any advice you can provide :)
Date: 1/24/2017
@Ruth Burlap is a much more textured material than most shirts, but color shouldn't be a problem since natural burlap isn't dyed so there shouldn't be any 'bleeding' issues. I would pick a mesh that would best fit the art demands of the graphic - is it high detail, or low detail. High detail may not show well on burlap, so a lower mesh should be fine. Also, I don't know what the durability of burlap is under heat, but you might experiment with this a bit - if 320 degrees is too hot for the burlap you may have to switch to an air-dry ink such as those from Color FX.
Date: 3/8/2017
Hi! I need print on paper very small text as a 7 pt what mesh do you recommended me? I need really good quality and what rype of ink is the best?? Thank you in advance
Date: 3/9/2017
@Chris You definitely want to get as small a mesh as you can with such a small font - the ink itself shouldn't be an issue for such a font but you might want to experiment with font spacing a bit as you don't want the ink to run together because the fonts are extremely close. As we typically recommend, try with a test pellon and examine the results. I might would start with a 230 or 255 mesh for such a job.
basavaraj belavi
Date: 5/18/2017
hi sir i need print on acrylic and glass so plz suggest me which one is better
Date: 5/18/2017
@basavaraj belavi - if I understand your question correctly you may be looking for an ink to print on these substrates. I can recommend our line of Air Dry inks from Color FX. Here is the link to the products - https://www.screenprintingsupply.com/Air-Dry-Inks_c_1042.html
Date: 8/1/2017
If I use white water based ink (wet on wet), what kind of mesh I need?
Date: 8/1/2017
@Maury your mesh count will still mainly be determined by the detail required in the artwork, although some water based inks will be more viscous that standard plastisols, so you may want to consider that, and perform some test prints with pellons. Largely though your mesh count should stay consistent.
Date: 9/5/2017
Great article! Your guidelines are very helpful. Thanks for sharing. Bruce, https://www.printavo.com
Date: 10/2/2017
I am wanting to print black ink on mesh safety yellow vests, what should i use?
Texsource Admin
Date: 10/3/2017
@Leigh, most any quality black ink that we carry should do well for this, although if the vests are nylon (as some are) you will need to add a Nylon additive to ensure proper adhesion, such as Union Nylobond. Start with our Black Dream plastisol ink, or a Union Athletic Gloss if you require a more glossy look as some have.
Date: 4/13/2018
I am looking to print on denim jackets/jeans, the design I will be printing consists of just a thin line drawing in white. What mesh count would be best for this and ink?
Date: 4/13/2018
@Xavier - your requirement are fairly simple it seems. You should do well with most any mesh - a 110 or 125 mesh could should do fine for this. Since Denim is a cotton twill textile most any cotton white ink should do well for you. Hope this helps!

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