How to Use Speedball Speed Screens: Screen Printing at Home

May 8, 2024 | Beginner Tutorials, Screen Printing, Screen Printing Press


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Looking for an easy way to start screen printing at home without the messy emulsion coating or costly setup? I’m going to walk you through an ideal option for beginners: Speedball’s Speed Screens.

Speedball Speed Screens are pre-coated photo emulsion screens available in 2 sizes. These handy screens allow you to skip the messy setup of coating your own screens with photo emulsion. Plus, this photo emulsion method of screen printing doesn't require a vinyl cutter like my typical method of screen printing with vinyl.

Benefits of Using Speedball Speed Screens

To get started with Speedball Speed Screens, you will need an inkjet or laser printer to print out your design on a transparency. Since you’re using a home printer and not weeding vinyl for this method, your design can be pretty detailed!

Speed Screens can be washed and reused. Once your design has been exposed on the Speed Screen, it is permanent. The screen can be reused over and over to screen print on a variety of surfaces.

Use Speed Screens to print t-shirts and much more. Just like my vinyl screen printing method, you can screen print on more than just shirts. This process works great for adding your own design to koozies, tea towels, napkins, wood signs, paper bags, shipping boxes and so much more. The possibilities are unlimited.

     speedball speed screens kit

​Supplies Needed to Get Started

For the 10×14 Speedball frames (like the ones included in my Screen Printing Kits), here are the supplies you will need:

Optional Supplies

Screen Printer Starter Press

The Screen Printer Starter Press will help you align your screen on t-shirts or other surfaces for accurate placement. This is especially helpful when you are making multiple prints. A huge benefit to using a screen printing press is being able to check if you have enough ink on your print. If you missed a spot, you can lower the screen back down and squeegee more ink. The press will ensure the design lines up in the exact same spot each time.

Watch the Setup Process:

If you’re ready to get started, here’s my User Guide to walk you through the basic process of using Speedball Speed Screens:

Creating Your Design

I create my design in Photoshop on a letter size document. When using the larger 12.5 by 16.5 inch size Speed Screens 3-pack, you can scale your design to use the full 8.5×11 size and it will fit nicely inside your 10×14 frame.

Print your design with black ink only on transparency film.

screen print at home setup easy

Setting Up Your Speedball Speed Screens

Grab one of the Speedball Speed Screens inside the black resealable bag. These mesh sheets are pre-coated with photo emulsion and are ready for exposure.

NOTE: These screens are light sensitive. While you don’t need a dark room or fancy setup, you do need to avoid placing these in direct sunlight during the setup process.

Place your printed transparency on top of the Speed Screen with the shiny side up. Be sure to center the design in the middle of your Speed Screen.

Exposing Your Design

With your design and Speed Screen ready, it’s time to expose it using a light source. The Speedball LED lamp works perfectly for this.

Place your items under the light in this order (from bottom to top):

  1. Sheet of Black paper or card stock
  2. Speed Screen (shiny side up)
  3. Transparency Sheet
  4. Clear Plastic Overlay: This comes inside your Speed Screen bag. The clear plastic overlay will ensure even exposure over your entire design.

Holding the light 19 inches over, turn on the light to expose the screen for 2 minutes.

If you’d like to avoid holding the light over, you can clamp it to a shelf.

speedball speed screen user guide

I created a DIY box out of black foam board to hold my light, making it easy to setup each project. 

Washing Out Your Design

After exposure, rinse the screen with hot water until your design appears. Be sure your screen remains vertical while washing. You want to avoid soaking the sheet or laying it flat in your sink. I found that placing my Speed Screen on top of a screen printing frame worked best.

Pro Tip: avoid over-washing the screen. Holding your sprayer in one spot too long can cause the emulsion to break down and lose the details of your design.

Drying the Speed Screen

Blot your Speed Screen with a paper towel and leave it on the original carrier sheet to dry completely. Drying time will depend on your room conditions. You can speed up the drying by placing it in the sun or by a fan.

Post Exposure

Once your screen is dry, place it back under your LED Light. Expose it again for 2 minutes with your light at 19 inches above. This post-exposure process will strengthen the screen, making it last longer.

Now the screen is ready to use! You can place the screen directly on top of your blank surface and start screen printing.

I prefer to mount my Speed Screens inside a wood frame, which requires one additional step.

Mounting the Screen

Mounting the screen inside a wood frame is optional but I have found it easier to reposition this way, especially when screen printing multiple items.

Use the white cord to secure the mesh tightly in the frame. I use a screen rolling tool for this.

Pro Tip: You want the tension of the screen to be extremely tight. This may take some practice. Watch this video starting at 5:41 to see how I ensure the screen is installed tightly.

speed- screen frame press

Printing Your Design

Now comes the fun part—printing! If you don’t have a screen printing press, simply lay your shirt on a flat surface and position the screen over it.

Spread a generous amount of Speedball fabric screen printing ink along the top of your screen using a craft stick.

Use a squeegee (a 9” wood handle is my favorite but the Red Baron squeegee from my Speedball Kits works too) to pull the ink over the screen. Repeat a few times.

Lift the screen to reveal your printed design.

You can immediately place the screen on your next blank and repeat the process. This is where screen printing becomes the most affordable way to make shirts in bulk.

If you happen to miss a spot, I don’t recommend trying to place the screen back down on your shirt. It’s almost impossible to line it back up accurately and tends to lead to a bigger mess. Instead, you can use a paint brush to touch up and missed spots. Alternatively, you can avoid this issue by using a screen printing press.

screen printing speedball speed screen

Using a Screen Printing Press

If you love this process, a screen printing press is a helpful tool. You can secure your screen printing frame into the press. This allows you to more accurately align your screen and blank t-shirts – ensuring the design will be printed in the same spot on each shirt.

The screen printing press is also helpful for new screen printers because you can lift the screen and check your print. If you missed a spot and need to add more ink, lower the screen back down and squeegee again. The press will accurately align the design each time.

speedball flex ink speed screen printing

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve printed your design, let it dry completely before handling.

Clean your screen with warm water to remove any ink residue, and it’s ready to be used again for your next project.

The final step to screen printing is curing the fabric ink. Speedball inks are cured at 320 degrees for 40 seconds.

Download my FREE Speedball Heat Setting Guide

Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, Speedball Speed Screens offer creative design possibilities for all skill levels. With these photo emulsion stencils, screen printing has never been easier or more accessible no matter your experience level.

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I’m Jennifer, your go-to for all things vinyl screen printing. I offer both in-person and online classes to help you craft better quality shirts. This blog is full of screen printing inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to learn all about screen printing with vinyl!

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