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Guide to the Best Mesh for Screen Printing

Types Of Mesh For Screen Printing

Traditional silk screens were made from silk. However, with the advent of more affordable synthetic polyester materials, silk is no longer the primary material used. This shift has not only impacted the quality and durability of prints but also has environmental implications.

When you screen print on paper or textiles, the mesh choice is crucial. It determines the clarity, detail, and ink saturation of the print.

Why Mesh Count Matters

The mesh count directly affects the amount of ink that gets through. A higher mesh count means less ink passes through, and vice versa. This is why textiles, which need more ink to ensure vibrancy and longevity, use a lower mesh count.

Textile Screen Printing Mesh

When printing on textiles, especially t-shirts, the feel and durability of the print are paramount. A print that feels too thick or cracks easily is undesirable. The 43T mesh strikes a balance, allowing for a good amount of ink to pass through while retaining detail.

It’s also worth noting that different inks, like plastisol or water-based inks, might require adjustments in mesh count for optimal results.

Paper Screen Printing Mesh

Paper doesn’t absorb ink like textiles. Therefore, to achieve sharp, detailed prints without over-saturating the paper, a higher mesh count is used. The 120T mesh is ideal for detailed artwork, ensuring clarity and precision, however you can use a 90T mesh too.

Table Of Mesh Counts & Uses

The information in the table below was taken from Wicked Printing Stuff Mesh Guides, this has been a great guide for me over the years.

Mesh CountMaterial/Ink
Beach Towels, Pennant Inks, Glitter Inks, Thicker Inks
Textile Inks, Opaque Inks Textile, T-shirts
Textile Inks, Finer Textile Design, Water Based Inks
Enamel Inks, Very Fine Textile In Or Coarse Plastisol Ink Printing
77TPaper & Board Inks, & Textile
Vinyl Inks, Plastic Inks, Plastisol Inks, Solvent Based, Paper & Board
Halftone Printing, Paper & Board Vinyl Plastic, Plastisol Etc
U.V Printing, Or Very Fine Halftone Work, Solvent Inks

Environmental Considerations

The move from silk to synthetic materials has both pros and cons. While synthetic materials are more durable and consistent, they are not as eco-friendly as silk. Silk is renewable and biodegradable, whereas polyester, a petroleum product, can contribute to environmental pollution.

For those concerned about the environment, it’s worth exploring eco-friendly inks and sustainable printing practices. Some modern inks are water-based, non-toxic, and biodegradable, making them a greener choice.


Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, understanding the nuances of screen printing meshes can significantly impact the quality of your prints. As technology and materials evolve, staying informed about best practices and environmental considerations will ensure that your prints are not only of high quality but also eco-friendly.

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