Hi, Mr Project here. You may know me from the website idsketching.com, or from the occasional layout my my wonderfully talented (and beautiful) wife – JenAllyson, the project girl. In any case, I’m lucky to be a guest blogger today on theprojectgirl.com
Earlier this summer, we were contacted by Provo Craft and given the opportunity to test out their awesome silk screening machine, the YuDu. I must say, it’s simple enough to use and we had a great time using it. We tried to think of what our first project would be and decided to use the YuDu to create some nifty shirts for our then upcoming family reunion. I tried to design them, but ultimately, the project girl won out, and we went with her awesome “vintagey” design for the silk screening process.
The yudu comes in a box (LARGE) with everything you need to get started – some water based ink, emulsion, two screens, transparencies, a squeegee and instruction card. I highly suggest searching for a video online of how the process actually works before you dive right in. it certainly helped prepare me for the heartache that lie ahead.
First things first, find yourself an assistant. Mine happened to be the project girl, and I was in good hands. We signed up to do about 30 shirts. Looking back, I would have tried to find three or four assistants to help with the process. Jen took care of the design and we printed it on our Epson wide format printer at home. Things didn’t go too well with the first design (sordid details of which I will forgo discussing); needless to say, we rethought things and settled with a much simpler design.
Printing the design was fairly easy. All we needed to do was make sure we printed on the right side of the provided transparency. There are two sides to it, so just be sure the side you print on (especially if you have an inkjet printer) is the sticky side.
Once your design is finalized and printed, you can step into the yudu process.
The yudu comes with a few sheets of emulsion. Emulsion reacts to light so it comes in a black bag. You want to make sure you don’t leave it out TOO long when working with it. It starts out green and changes color to blue when exposed to the light. So . . . What we did is cut the emulsion to the size of the design to save as much of it as we could (it’s super expensive for new sheets)
1. We wet the screen with a damp paper towel so that it’s not drenched, but moist.
2. Apply the emulsion with the squeegee. In this picture, you can see the first application of the emulsion that we tried. Be SURE to take the plastic film off the emulsion before putting it on the screen. Te next step will also be critical as well.
3. Dry the emulsion. The yudu comes with a nifty tray below the lighted surface that has built in fans., In our first attempt to get the emulsion to stick to the screen, the fans didn’t do enough for us, so this time, we used a BLOWDRYER. I highly recommend it if you have a yudu or are thinking about getting one. It’s definitely one thing they could improve in the next version of the yudu. A heated drying compartment would be ideal for making sure the emulsion sticks to the screen.
4. Place the design on the reverse side of the screen. Packaging tape works great for masking the rest of the screen from the ink application as well as securing your design in place. Where you place your cut and cropped design is where it’ll show up on the tee shirt once you center it on the included platen. The top of the yudu comes with 4 indexing pegs that let you keep the screen in the right place when exposing the screen to set the design. Once we placed our design as outlined by the instructions, we put a jar of rice on top for weight and set the timer and let the screen expose for around 15 minutes. It needs to be exposed long enough to have the screen go from bright green to a deep blue color. The parts that aren’t exposed will be green and will be removable with a light rinse of water.
5. Once the emulsion has set, rinse the screen with warm water (I think! ) and the green areas should rinse away. Be sure to rub it gently. We tried with a rough sponge at first and it ended up destroying the emulsion and also the design and had to start over.
6. Once the emulsion was dry, would start applying the design to our 30 shirts. We masked the exposed screen area with saran wrap and packaging tape so that the ink wouldn’t spill over to other areas of the shirt. When applying the ink, be sure to have enough. We had trouble the first few times with splotchy application simply because we didn’t have enough ink, or “flood” the screen first. You can read about that in the instructions that come with the yudu or check out videos of others using it online.
7. Squeegeeing was the hardest part. Man it was a workout. It was also challenging trying to figure out the right pressure, amount of ink, and how fast to apply the ink. I suggest getting a test shirt and trying it out a few times before you commit to that final stroke. From what I hear as well, the “super” squeegee with rubber blade works much better than the one included in the box. Jen handled the drying of the shirts with a blowdryer and placing them on the platen, and I took care of all the squeegeeing. Like I said before, It might be worth getting a few assistants to help out if you plan on doing more than 5 shirts. It’s a chore!
8. Once the shirt is done, you can hit it with a blowdryer, set it to the side, and repeat. Be sure to not let the ink dry on the screen. One thing we learned from the first run was that waiting too long between applications caused the screen to clog up a bit, resulting in a splotchy and uneven application. One way to avoid this is to “flood” the screen with ink while you’re removing the t-shirt and replacing it with another.
All in all, it was a great experience. i’d never screen printed before and we made some awesome shirts together, mostly due to Jen’s awesome design skills and assistance.
Some things I liked were the indexing pins for the screen, the storage bay for your screens, and the teeshirt platen. I think I forgot to mention is has a slightly sticky surface so that your shirt or application surface stays fixes when the squeegee party starts.
I’d like to see a heated drying area in the next iteration, and perhaps a way to lock the screen in place when opening the top door of the yudu. We found that sometimes the screen would fall off when we opened the door to change the teeshirts. Also, beware of rogue ink. We had to quickly wash a teeshirt and let it dry because of some stray ink on our worksurface.
All in all the yudu is a great product and helped us make our family reunion tee shirts, which EVERYONE absolutely loved. I look forward to the next version and hope some key improvements will be made as well.
Mr Project out!