6. Expose Emulsion

Exposure – Plus Emulsion & Capillex Film

Exposing PLUS Emulsions

Under exposure is the single biggest cause of stencil breakdown on the press.

Using the Autotype Calculator to calibrate your stencil is a good practice to optimize the exposure with PLUS emulsions and Capillex films.


Exposing PLUS emulsions and choosing the right exposure system


Once the PLUS emulsion has been coated on the mesh and dried, it is ready for exposure. The objective with exposure is to penetrate the photo-stencil material all the way through to the mesh to ensure hardening around the filaments and thus obtain good stencil adhesion whilst accurately reproducing the detail on the film positive.


If the exposure is not enough and the whole layer is not penetrated by the UV light, the stencil may wash completely off on washout. Or, more typically the stencil may be intact after washout, but break down or become tacky during the print run - both of which are symptomatic of under exposure.


As a general rule, "direct" systems do not suffer from a lack of flexibility on over-exposure, in fact, if anything, the adhesion to the mesh is improved. However, the resolution and definition of the image deteriorate as the stencil is over exposed. See sections on light geometry and mesh influences for further information.

*The following 3 diagrams on the left outline the effects of under-exposure at 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the optimum exposure for a Diazo sensitized PLUS emulsion.


< Optimum exposure

At full exposure all the emulsions is fully hardened and the stencil will provide the optimum resistance and durability.


As a general rule, the minimum distance between the exposure lamp and the vacuum frame should be equal to the diagonal of the area to be exposed. This will ensure fairly even illumination over the exposure area.


In general terms a light source with a spectral output in the region of 340-440 nM (nanometers) is suitable for exposing photo-stencil materials. Some light sources have a continuous output, whereas others have a discontinuous or line emission. Modern light sources such as metal halide lamps have a line output and it is important that these emissions coincide with that portion of the sensitivity curve of the photo-stencil materials, giving the best results in terms of tanning and image contrast i.e. diazo bulbs or photopolymer bulbs.

Kira Shea