A few friends and colleagues have asked me in various ways, "how do you screen print onto a pedal enclosure?" There are numerous answers to that question but here's a quick look into how we do it. There are many, many, different ways to execute this process, all of them good; this is simply the method we choose to use. After our enclosures are drilled (which we do in-house) and powder coated (which we outsource) they are then prepared for the printing portion of the pedal production process. Alliteration. You're welcome.
—A quick word about my screen printing background—
I've had an affinity for serigraphy ever since a freshman art class I had with my best friend Timothy Elliott. Tim and I have been tight since we were nine. Along with being close friends, I attribute the majority of my foundational art skill-sets to his influence, teaching, and wisdom. I learn new things from Tim all of the time. In the aforementioned art class, we had a duo of fairly wily art teachers who we adored and who seemed to trust us even though we were often deviating from the curricular still-lifes and contour drawings. When we found some broken down print making equipment in a closet, they pretty much just told us to figure it out and go for it. And from there our interest grew. We both worked at print shops through college and have always done our own printing on the side, for anything from personal art shows, tour posters, t-shirts, etc. Even now, Tim heads the print department and is the Creative Director at a local electronics company. That's pretty rad. Anyway, I've dabbled with enclosure printing in the past; doing a couple freelance jobs here and there. Printing on substrates other than poster paper and t-shirts has always been an exciting challenge. Thus, when Old Blood started up, we built printing into our model.
Before we moved into our current workspace, I was using a sort of mobile printing rig, depending on the oven and space I could borrow (usually kilyn's). Now that we're at OBNEHQ, I have more of a permanent set up, though i'm constantly making revisions to the approach as I get used to the space and layout. I have two very basic and rudimentary screen clamps I got from Utrecht. They don't have any sort of micro-registration or off-contact control built in so they are a challenge to use, but since we are only printing one-color images it's definitely workable. There are also some diy tricks that help with registration and off-contact, for instance, I'll use bare or dead enclosures and plastic washers to adjust off-contact (off-contact is the terminology used to describe the space between the screen surface and the subtrate). I use either 230 or 305 mesh screens and a standard water-based emulsion. I have all of my screens reclaimed, coated and burned at a local print shop, that's been working great. I use a right angle, enclosure, and backplate that are all affixed to the printing surface to ensure that my enclosure is in the same spot every time the squeegee is pulled. I use a Thermoset solvent-based ink to print the image area onto our enclosures. This particular ink (Nazdar 8900 series) does not air dry but cures in an oven. After curing, it's extremely sturdy; withstanding scratches and most common mild solvents. I use a conventional electric oven, no bells and whistles to it, but it does its job well. Every oven is different and times vary based on climate and many other variables, so by no means use my methods as an exemplar; we cook our printed enclosures for 15 minutes at 375ish°. after they've cooled they're ready to move on to the next part of the process which is assembly. Party. Thanks for reading, I hope that was at least interesting.