The best Exposure Unit for screen printing

A screen printing exposure unit is a device used to expose the mesh of a screen.

There are several different light sources that can be used as an exposure unit: incandescent, mercury vapor, and ultraviolet rays, but incandescent lamps have the shortest life span and generate the most heat thus making them less popular for screen printing work.

  1. KUNHEWUHUA – best UV Exposure Unit
  2. Tabletop Precise – best Vacuum LED UV Exposure
  3. QWERTOUR Precise – best for buisness
  4. Hot Stamping Exposure Unit – best for beginners
  5. UV Exposure Unit Equipment – best for home

Mercury vapor lamps have been replaced mostly by ultraviolet radiation from high-intensity arc lamps such as those made from xenon or krypton gases, metal halides, and fluorescent tubes using rare earth phosphors. They offer bright illumination with energy savings of more than 70% compared to mercury vapor systems. 

Ultraviolet rays are not visible to human eyes or present a risk when they are used properly in a controlled environment with proper safety precautions taken.

exposure unit for screen printing

The exposures are immediate and the resulting images match the screen perfectly every time, making this a true one-and-done process.  

Screen printing Exposure Units – Reviews

ImageProductRated
Exposure Machine for Hot Foil Pad Printing PCB
e Unit review
KUNHEWUHUA UV Exposure Machine
  • exposure area: 210 * 260mm
  • 6 units of 8W UV burning lamps
  • time setting

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Best Vacuum Exposure Machine
Vacuum LED UV Exposure Unit review
Vacuum LED UV Exposure Unit
  • UV LED light source
  • Fast exposure time
  • Vacuum model

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Electric Screen Printing & Hot Stamping Exposure Unit
Hot Stamping Exposure Unit review
Hot Stamping Exposure Unit
  • Exposure size : 18*12 inch(46*32cm) 
  • automatically turns off the tubes
  • four 15W light tubes

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Exposure Machine for Hot Foil Pad Printing PCB

Exposure Machine for Hot Foil Pad Printing PCB

KUNHEWUHUA UV Exposure Unit Review

UV Ultra Exposure Unit

This is a brand new exposure unit, which is designed for quick exposure of photo-polymers plates to UV light.

Top benefits of KUNHEWUHUA

Ultra Violet Exposure Unit

The exposure unit is small in size and lightweight. Adjustable time setting, both exposure, and power indicator are adopted. The drawer design can help dry the plates. A4 size plates can be inserted and taken out easily without any extra adjustment. High-quality material gives durability to the machine.

Pros 

  • The 2 pcs latches on the sides prevent the lid from opening when carrying.
  • Handy handle for opening the lid from above.
  • Steel case.
  • Set contains 8 photopolymer plates.
  • Metal plate drawer.
  • Adjustable time setting(0-999s).
  • Exposure and power indicator are adopted. 
  • Easy to operate.
  • Lightweight & Compact Structure.  
  • Stable Light Source. 
  • LED Display.  
  • Digital Control.

Cons 

  • There is no guarantee.
  • The beep is sharp.
  • The exposure area is small is 210 * 260mm.

Conclusion

The UV exposure unit is a lightweight and compact construction. A light source of the 6 UV lamps.  Digital control, adjustable time setting. The steel case.

The latches on the sides prevent the lid from opening when carrying. Handy handle for opening the lid from above. Easy to operate.

LED display, exposure, and power indicator are adopted.

If this sounds like something that would be useful in your workplace, we recommend checking out this machine. 

My experience

I really liked my experience with 8.3×10.2 in the KUNHEWUHUA UV Exposure Unit because it is very affordable and low-maintenance. I was even able to use it for a single project, which saved me a lot of money on not having to buy a more expensive machine.

The best Vacuum Exposure Machine

Vacuum Exposure Machine

Tabletop Precise Vacuum LED UV Exposure

Low consumption in power and high intensity of exposure, which will protect photo-resin or polymerization in the curing process. Vacuum function makes sure fast exposure speed. Evenly light because of the LED light source. The front panel screen makes it easy to operate.

Qomolangma Tabletop Precise 24.8 x 32.6 120W Vacuum LED UV Exposure Unit

Top benefits of Vacuum Exposure Machine

If you’re looking for a high-intensity UV exposure unit, then this model is worth considering. Its tabletop design has the ability to be mounted to a desk or cart and features an LED that provides even lighting. The vacuum pump ensures fast exposure time and the PLC controlled panel makes it easy to operate. Fast exposure time is guaranteed. A durable tabletop design can be mounted to a desk or cart for versatility. The top benefits are that it has fast exposure time and steel case.

Pros

  • Low consumption in power and high intensity of exposure.
  • Vacuum function makes sure fast exposure speed.
  • Evenly light because of the LED light source.
  • The front panel screen makes it easy to operate.
  • Long service life.
  • External power connector.
  • Steel case.
  • Energy-saving LED lamps.
  • Vacuum pump.
  • Thick rubber gasket.

Сons

  • The vacuum pump requires a standard 110-volt outlet.
  • It is difficult to clean plastic from the gasket.
  • There is no instruction manual.
  • Unknown manufacturer.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a high-intensity UV exposure unit, then this model is worth considering.

Its tabletop design has the ability to be mounted to a desk or cart and features an LED that provides even lighting. The vacuum pump ensures fast exposure time and the PLC controlled panel makes it easy to operate.

Fast exposure time is guaranteed. Top benefits are that it has low consumption in power and high intensity of exposure as well as external power connector which make sure long service life. Cons include difficulty cleaning plastic from gasket as well as no instruction.

Professional Vacuum Exposure Unit

52cmx40cm Precise Vacuum Exposure Unit

QWERTOUR Precise Vacuum Exposure Unit

This product is equipped with special lamps and an auxiliary vacuum suction device.

Top benefits of QWERTOUR

1. The vacuum pump area is 52*40cm, the optimum screen exposing area per piece can be 50 * 40 cm or 45 * 35 cm in size

2. Vacuum degree >=0.025MPa

3. Made of alloy steel

The QWERTOUR 52cmx40cm Precise Vacuum Exposure Unit Screen Printing Machine has a vacuum pump area of 52*40 cm in size. This provides a large surface for rubber sheets to stick on which results into a tighter grip. The optimum screen exposing area per piece can be 50 * 40 cm or 45 * 35 cm in size allowing users to print more pieces without having to change screens as often. It also ensures that there isn’t any air; thus, no bubbles underneath the screen.

The QWERTOUR 52cmx40cm Precise Vacuum Exposure Unit Screen Printing Machine has a vacuum degree of >=0.025MPa, which is perfect for small businesses and family workshops because it can withstand wear and tear. It is also made of alloy steel, which is extremely durable.

Pros

  • The vacuum pump area is 52 * 40 cm in size, which provides a large surface for rubber sheets to stick on
  • The vacuum degree is >=0.025 MPa thus, no bubbles underneath the screen
  • Adjust the exposure time.
  • Setting the vacuum time.
  • Power the button on the control panel.
  • 1-year warranty.
  • Rugged steel case.

Cons

  • It weighs 25kg, making it somewhat heavy to move around.
  • Has a high price tag.

Conclusion

The QWERTOUR 52cmx40cm Precise Vacuum Exposure Unit Screen Printing Machine is a perfect fit for small businesses and family workshops.

The vacuum pumping area (sizes of rubber blanket) is 52*40 cm in size while the optimum screen exposing area per piece can be 50 * 40 cm or 45 * 35 cm in size. It has a vacuum degree of >=0.025MPa and is made of alloy steel, which ensures that it will withstand wear and tear over time to last you many years with proper care.

With its 1-year warranty, this unit may not be an investment that goes out quickly like other units on the market today; thus, making it worth your consideration as long as you have enough space for it.

Electric Screen Printing & Hot Stamping Exposure Unit

Hot Stamping Exposure Unit Review

A great choice for those who print small-batch products such as stickers and labels

This small exposure unit is mainly used for exposure of small screens, printing plates, hot stamping

This is a 60W 110V electrically operated machine with 18″ x 12″ (46cmx32cm) exposure size.

It features timer control. With its reasonable design and high-quality materials, this machine guarantees great durability in use.

Top benefits of Hot Stamping Exposure Unit

-The 18″ x 12″ (46cmx32cm) exposure size is perfect if you’re just starting out with screen printing or looking for a small exposure unit.

– automatically turn off the tubes when an overloaded power occurs.

-Safe tempered glass cover 8 mm and shading cloth add reliable performance and add use operator’s safety.

-The machine is of reasonable design, high-quality materials which guarantees great durability in use. 

-Equipped with a 20cmx30cm sponge inside to press the film.

-Electronically controlled timer, precise and reliable; countdown timer can be set.

-The front panel is opened easily for your putting light sources in and out, which takes about 60 seconds for a complete operation. 

-The machine has a shading screen outside which can be used as a shield from UV radiation for you.

Pros

  • Suitable for beginners.
  • Tempered impact-resistant glass.
  • The case is made of steel plates with paint spraying.
  • Exposure time setting.
  • Setting memory.
  • Sponge in the set for a tight fit.
  • Shading cloth included.
  • Automatic timer function that shuts off the machine when finished or an overloaded power occurs.

Cons

  • The machine requires a 110V 60W power supply and not 220v.
  • No manufacturer’s warranty.

Conclusion

This machine can be used to expose small screens, printing plates, and other products with a size of 46cm x 32cm (18″x 12″). It features timer control. In addition, it has a safe tempered glass cover of 8 mm and shading cloth which adds reliable performance and adds use operator’s safety. The machine is of reasonable design, high-quality materials which guarantees great durability in use.

UV Exposure Unit Equipment for Silk Screen Printing

Exposure Unit Equipment for Silk Screen Printing

UV Exposure Unit Equipment Review

UV Exposure Unit Equipment is indispensable equipment for screen printers to make the original design on the printing plate. Because of the strong light, when people use it wrongly can cause damage to our eyesight.

To minimize this risk, please follow these safety tips:

Always wear UV protection glasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB light (check the labeling). These are usually only available in amber tint; however, clear glasses give adequate protection if worn over tinted lenses.

Never look into a bright source of ultraviolet light directly without special eye protection.

Make sure both lights are off before removing screens from holders!

Don’t expose your skin or clothing to direct UV light.

Top benefits of UV Exposure Unit Equipment 20×20 inch for Silk Screen Printing

The exposure unit is exposed to two 26W UV tubes, which can be swivel adjusted while exposing.

The holders can be easily installed because of the two-way clamps; besides, it can be adjusted in different heights and angles to satisfy different exposing demands.

The equipped countdown timer makes it easier for exposing time control. The equipped black rubber subplate can reduce the ultraviolet reflection during exposure, which can guarantee a better exposure effect.

The equipped glass protection cover on both sides is protected by an aluminum shell heat insulation layer with double thermal barriers to avoid temperature running high after long periods of work (for example painting).

UV Exposure Unit Equipment Pros and Cons

  • UV exposure units are cheaper than other alternatives
  • Use light intensity controller to set exposure time
  • Dangerous for people with sensitivities to light

Conclusion

Is a great product that’s well worth the price. You’ll need to wait just over thirty minutes before your art will be finished, but this exposure unit has everything you need in order to make sure it turns out right!

It includes two 26W UV tubes and can be adjusted at different heights and angles perfect for any screen printer looking to get started with platinum printing without spending too much money on expensive equipment. If you’re worried about how dangerous these lights are, don’t fret; they only emit UVA rays which provide sufficient protection when used correctly.

This device also comes equipped with an adjustable timer so you know exactly how long your screens will be exposed. If you’re looking for an inexpensive exposure unit to experiment with, this is it!

How to choose the best exposure unit for screen printing? 

What can be considered the “best exposure unit” for screen printing? There is no one answer to this question. It depends on many factors, such as:

  • What kind of art (silkscreen or direct emulsion) do you want to make?
  • How much money you are willing and able to spend?
  • What type of equipment is available at your working place?

As we know, there are two kinds of light sources used in exposing silk screens for print: ultraviolet (UV) light and far-ultraviolet (FUV). For making a high-quality image using UV light, expensive equipment is necessary because FUV is not bright enough. The FUV exposure units cost less than the UV ones but they have a number of drawbacks.

In the process of exposure, FUV light is multiplied by a UV absorbing material, which may have its own characteristics and affect image quality. FUV usually has a very short wavelength. Usually, it’s not more than 100 nm (1/10 of the wavelength of UV light) but still, it’s enough for printing.

What else should be considered? If you’re not experienced in this kind of work, don’t save on gloves and glasses because they are cheap means of preventing eye injuries. It’s also very important to wear a respirator because almost all kinds of exposure units emit harmful gases which may cause serious lung diseases or even death when inhaled too often or without necessary precautions.

Durable 5 mils thick inkjet film
Waterproof Screen Printing Inkjet Film review
Waterproof Screen Printing Inkjet Film
  • 8.5-17" x 11-22"
  • 100 Sheets
  • Anti-curl, anti-yellowing

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Exposure Times 21 Step Wedge
21 Step Wedge Exposure Calculator review
21 Step Wedge Exposure Calculator
  • Help you dial in your exposure times
  • Regular image you want on your screen
  • This calculator is easy

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Exposure units fall into a couple of categories

  • UV Exposure Units 

UV exposure units are those that use ultraviolet light. There are 4 kinds of UV exposing equipment: black lights and mercury bulbs, halogen lights, argon ion lasers, xenon lamps, and plasma tubes.

  • Halogen Exposure Units 

Halogen exposure units utilize a halogen bulb. A coil of wire that has been electrified generates the heat that shrinks film and rips stencil material from screens. If you want to start small, buy a halogen light kit. Halogen lights are cheap, available at many retail stores, and can be bought in simple kits.

  • LED Exposure Units 

LED exposure units are long-lasting. They can run for 100,000 hours with minimum power consumption. LED units produce consistent light without hot spots.

  • Vacuum Exposure Units 

Vacuum exposure units use high-powered halogen lights, xenon lamps, argon ion lasers, and plasma tubes.

They are very expensive but they enable the operator to get rid of many problems associated with UV curing devices.

For example, there is no ozone produced during vacuum exposures so stencils last longer than in other methods. Because of their capabilities, these devices can be used by professional screen printers for large production runs.

What type of exposure unit for screen printing is the best?

Screen printing exposure units are fluorescent lamps that provide the right kind of illumination for this type of work.

Several factors can help you determine which is the best exposure unit for your needs:

1) How many screens would you like to expose simultaneously? Will you be screen printing t-shirts or posters? A multiple exposure unit will save you time and money, allowing you to make several exposures at the same time rather than adding another lamp each time.

2) What kind of image are you trying to achieve with your direct emulsion screen print? For example, if it includes a halftone graphic there are some exposure units better suited for this project than others.

3) How bright is your studio? If it does not have great exterior window space, obtaining enough light for exposure can be difficult.

4) How much are you willing to spend on an exposure unit? The best exposure units are not cheap but do provide excellent performance.

5) Who will operate the equipment? If you have no one within your studio to help with this aspect of screen printing, choose a system that is easy to use.

6) Do you need video tutorials or other guides on how to work with the products? Some companies offer DVDs or online videos to help users become familiar with how their products work even before they open up the package.

7) What warranty comes with the purchase? Most manufacturers offer two-year warranties although some extend it further than others. Screen printers should always ask about the warranty in case they need to replace their screen exposure unit in the future.

8) What kind of accessories come with the purchase? Some manufacturers include everything you will need to use your exposure unit, including gloves and eyewear that protect your hands and eyes when working with light, while others may require that users obtain this equipment separately.

The top-rated exposure units all worked well for screen printers who said they were able to achieve excellent results even when using them on a daily basis. Users also complimented ease of use, portability, affordability, quality construction, and durability so these are some of the most important factors to consider before making a final purchase decision. 

What thickness of screens should be used with the exposure unit?

This depends on the light intensity your exposure unit uses. If it uses UV light, you won’t have problems when printing using either 0.3 or 0.5 mm screens. FUV light is much dimmer so the thinner screen you use, the better result you’ll get.

How does the exposure unit help in screen printing? 

Screen exposure units help screen printers to burn the stencil so they can print as many times as desired.

What is the purpose​ of exposing screens?

The main purpose of exposure is to burn the stencil so it could be easily removed from the printing surface.

Can I remove a black mask from a white-backed film without using a unit?

Yes, you can burn it if you have a UV lamp that has enough power for this purpose. You’ll need to place your screen with the emulsion side down and cover it with glass or Plexiglas sheets.

They will serve as a reflector and increase the intensity of light passing through your stencil thus burning it faster. This method saves time but it’s not as effective as using a unit.

How long should you expose your screen? 

This depends on the intensity your exposure unit uses. If you use UV light, it typically takes 30 seconds to burn a screen.

Can I expose my stencil thicker than 0.5 mm?

Yes, you can but doing this will not give positive results. You’ll need to use lower power or multiple passes in order to get the desired result. This method is very time-consuming and therefore not worth your effort unless you are printing using thick mesh (180-220).

How does an exposure unit work?

A modern exposure unit has an ultraviolet lamp connected with an inverter that regulates its voltage and wattage across the electromagnetic coils of wire inside the bulb. As these coils heat up they produce UV light which is directed at your screen.

Do I need to burn both sides of my film?

This depends on what kind of screens you are using and the manufacturer’s recommendations. All mesh that has a white backing must be burned from the backside.

Can I use a halogen light for exposing mesh with a dark mask?

No, you cannot because it’s not strong enough to burn these meshes in less than 30 minutes thus making this method time-consuming and hardly worth your effort.

What type of bulb should I buy for an exposure unit?

UV bulbs come in two varieties: arc lamps and cold cathode. They both have their own unique features but they basically work the same. The first one produces more intense UV light while the second one allows you to turn on the exposure unit immediately.

What is the optimum distance between mesh and light source?

The larger this distance, the higher your mesh tension should be set. Therefore, if you expose your mesh from 10 inches away it should have lower screen tension than when exposing it at 3 inches away.

This allows less stretching of mesh thus preventing possible breaks during printing. If you are using a cold cathode lamp then there is no need to adjust screen tension because its UV light requires no focusing.

The only disadvantage of these lamps is that they require time to warm up before use which also means that you cannot print right after turning on your exposure unit.

What’s the Best Type of Light for an Exposure Unit? 

There are so many different light sources to use for exposure units. You can choose to use either a cold cathode halogen lamp or ultraviolet arc lamps.

The first type of lamp stays cool during the entire printing process while the second one requires time to reach its optimum temperature which means that you’ll have a slow start-up time after turning on your exposure unit. If you decide to buy this type of lamp then it’s very important that you control its wattage with a special regulator. Otherwise, if the voltage gets too high it will burn out in less than an hour making it useless thus wasting your time and money.

What Size Exposure Unit is Best?

When choosing the size of an exposure unit, always go for larger models because they feature stronger UV lights. The larger your exposure unit, the more mesh tension you can set which makes it possible to print using thicker meshes (100-400).

What Power Should a Fluorescent Lamp Have?

Make sure that your fluorescent lamp has a power of 58 watts and if you need a higher intensity then use a 100-watt bulb. Anything above this will burn out very quickly because high voltages can damage or explode the light bulbs.

This is why you should never check the voltage of lamps featuring arc lamps as they may be dangerous for your health. If you want to test them safely then put them underwater as water conducts electricity well enough for testing purposes only.

How Do I Test My Exposure Unit?

In order to test the exposure unit, you will need a halogen lamp. Set the exposure unit to its lowest settings and turn it on, then use your exposure meter to measure the exposure time in order to find out how many seconds per square inch you need for burning your mesh.

If your exposure unit has no fusing capabilities then automatically add one additional second per square inch in order to compensate for the absence of this feature.

How Do I Know When My Exposure Is Done?

In order for you to know when your exposure is done there are certain guidelines that you should follow: if you have a cold cathode lamp, expose it for no less than 20 minutes because not doing so will cause printing issues during the development process. Cold cathodes require more time trying to reach their optimum temperatures.

If you have an arc lamp then expose it for 10-15 minutes. If your exposure is done correctly, most of the UV light will result in a white line on the mesh. This means that it has been fusing properly. If nothing happens to the mesh at all, repeat the process until finished.

What’s the Best Type of TYPE OF EMULSION for an Exposure Unit?

An exposure unit is a perfect choice for an emulsion that produces a thin layer that gets quickly dry. This means that you should use fast dry emulsion when developing your mesh because it provides better results in an hour or two instead of a couple of days.

The only downside of fast-acting emulsions is that they’re very brittle and can be easily ripped apart by water thus requiring extra care when handling them.

If you don’t want to lose time then choose slow-dry screen printing emulsion as it will require several hours before being printed on the mesh.

The advantage of this type of emulsion is its incredible durability but at the same time, there’s a higher risk of ripping during the development process if the mesh has a low tension level due to the thin emulsion layer.

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Jennifer Behm

Where to buy exposure unit?

T Shirt

What is the fastest exposure unit for screen printing?