Rotary printing

Rotary printing is printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas a of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. A roller or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink past the threads of the woven mesh in the open areas.

  • Due to the semi-continuous process, low productivity, and non-continuous patterns of flat-bed screen printing, inventive machine makers developed rotary screen printing. In concept, the idea is to take a flat screen and simply shape it into a roll by sealing the ends of the flat screen together. The simple modification converts a semi-continuous process to a continuous one. However, initially there were many technical hurdles to overcome before rotary screen machines became practical.

  • In basic operation, rotary screen and flat screen-printing machines are very similar. Both use the same type of in-feed device, glue trough, rotating blanket (print table), dryer, and fixation equipment. The process involves initially feeding fabric onto the rubber blanket. As the fabric travels under the rotary screens, the screens turn with the fabric. Print paste is continuously fed to the interior of the screen through a color bar or pipe. As the screen rotates, the squeegee device pushes print paste through the design areas of the screen onto the fabric. As in flat-bed screen printing, only one color can be printed by each screen. After print application, the process is the same as flat screen printing. By converting the screen-printing process from semi-continuous to continuous, higher production speeds are obtained. Typical speeds are from 50-120 ypm (45-100 mpm) for rotary screen printing depending upon design complexity and fabric construction. Initially, no continuous patterns such as stripes were available with this method due to the seams in the rotary screens.