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Marketing Ideas Centre / 6. What is ? /
What is Emulsion Up ?
Author Message
sign maker

What is Emulsion Up ?


When preparing screen printing, and in particular for large panel sizes, the high intensity light exposes an light sensitive solution that is applied to the screen. This cures the silk screen where ink should pass through AND where it should not, the solution sets hard, not allowing ink to pass through.

This is how screen printing works, areas where the hardended solution is set, protects the silk and only allows ink onto the sign where areas are not hardened. e.g. The letters are washed clean and the hardened solution is a non penetrable background.


Emulsion UP is the chemical on the clear artwork film and nothing to do with the silk solution. Because sometimes screenprinting signs can be 3000 mm long, the artwork clear film may upto 2mm thick so as not to get handling creases etc. The mesh density may be coarse etc. So the Emulsion on the Artwork Clear Film is set to UP.


To create / make a silk screen, a thin clear polyester film with artwork (just like a polaroid negative) is overlaid onto the silk with the chemical emulsion closest to the silk.

Although very thin, the black areas of the film can be one face or rear.

Screen printing uses Emulsion UP so that when exposing the artwork film onto the silk, there is no thread shadow, AND that none of the silk cross threads create light bending.

Shadowing is caused because/when screen printing panels is very large and the distance/time from the exposure light and the silk can sometime be longer than 10 minutes.

So, by asking the film bureau to supply the artwork emulsion UP, you are ensuring that any long exposure times do not create a 'fuzzy' edge around letters, borders etc.

I'll take a photo of the next big film layout and post it here for you.

What is Emulsion Down ?

Offset printers and other printing equipment may use Emulsion Down for the opposite reasons as to a screen printer. In their case, they want the artwork exposed onto a plate. This means that by using an Emulsion Down, they have no shadowing. They may also use such terms as Right Reading, Negative read etc.

Always ask your preferred printing company which suits their machinery FOR EACH JOB as they may switch from machine to machine depending on size, material etc.

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