Manual Printing Squeegee School:
What makes a squeegee, a squeegee?
A squeegee is the quintessential tool you’ll be getting your hands on as a screen printer, quite simply, your ink isn’t going anywhere without one! They come in all shapes, sizes and materials – some with ergonomic handles like the BADASS; today we’re looking at the rubber part of the squeegee, the blade.
Squeegee anatomy is straight-forward; there is a handle for holding and a flexible blade for moving ink across the screen. Handles are typically made of wood with a fixed blade or in alluminium, like that of one of our best-selling alluminium squeegees, which can be replaced. All squeegee blades will typically be made of a rubber material such as polyurethane which is designed to bend, how much bend is up to you – enter, Durometer.
What on earth is durometer?
Durometer is the measure of how rigid a material is, this will determine how much your blade will flex under pressure.
A squeegee with a blade in the range of 50-60 durometer will be considered ‘soft’, this means that the blade will flex under pressure and allow for a wealth of ink to be pushed through the screen.
A soft blade is best-suited to jobs where sizeable sections of ink needs to be adhered to your fabric, but a firm hand will let you print finer spots too.
The most commonly used squeegees are around 70 durometer, this is your ‘everyman’ of ink-pushers, this guy will get the job done, no frills, no matter what. Consulting the chart above, you could expect a squeegee of this duro would give similar flex as a pencil rubber.
Squeegees ranging from 80-90 durometer are considered medium to hard, they’ll offer significant resistance and subsequently gather less ink to be ‘pushed’ through the mesh. A firm blade ensures coverage in even the most precise areas of the print. This durometer class of squeegee blade is the all-star for details because you can really lean into your glide.
Choosing the right blade type for the job:
Commonly spotted in the wild, these squeegee blades are made from a material with uniform durometer – what you see is what you get!
With a single durometer rating, these blades offer easy, cheap replacing – it’s as simple as untightening 2-4 screws on your handle and inserting your freshly-sliced blade. We recommend that you change your blades every 12 months for optimal performance, one roll from us is 3.7m, that will last you for a long time…
It’s also our firm belief that no printshop is complete without Storage Racks.
A blade made of three layers of rubber, sandwiched together to form a single blade with unique qualities. In short, a composite blade will maintain the capability to print fine details because of its high durometer core, despite it’s exterior softer layers, these exterior blades allow for more ink to be gathered in your push and then deposit into finer detailing than you would be able to achieve with a squeegee of the outer duro rating alone.
These composite blades are 70/90/70, 62/90/62 & 55/90/55, they’re great working examples of a higher duro core surrounded by lower duro, softer blades.
Facts to take-away:
- The colour of the squeegee blade will denote how much physical resistance it offers (durometer)
- Blade edges can wear over time, replace approx. every 12 months with a new blade.
- Squeegees can be ‘single rubber’ for general use or ‘triple rubber’ (composite) for more-experienced printers.