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Understanding screen mesh count begins with understanding what the count means. The mesh count indicates how many fibers there are in one square inch of the screen, so a 160 mesh count screen has 160 fibers in one square inch of the screen. Lower mesh count screens have larger openings that allow more ink to flow through, while higher mesh count screens allow for finer details in your printing but with less of a coating of ink.
Experience will help you determine which mesh counts you prefer to use on individual projects, but there are some guidelines that will help you get started with using different mesh counts.
110 to 160 mesh count screens are the most versatile and the most commonly used in screen printing. Screens on the lower end of the mesh count spectrum put down heavier ink deposits and are ideal for printing underbases or printing bold colors on dark fabrics. At the higher end of the mesh count spectrum, you can print a more detailed image while maintaining a fair ink deposit.
180 to 200 mesh counts are perfect for printing somewhat detailed images in light inks on dark fabrics.
230 to 280 mesh count screens will deliver detailed prints with a softer hand feel; however, because they allow for lighter ink deposits, prints created with these fine screens won’t be as bright or vivid.