Screen Printing Photo Emulsion Tests

Researchers: Kevin Pomerleau and Daniel Chiaccio

Photo Screen-printing is relatively new to the art world, and has become more and more popular due to its fast paced quality results. The process itself consists of taking a light sensitive emulsion, applying it to a screen, then using an intense directed light source to expose an opaque image or mark onto a screen. Although the process seems relatively straightforward, the artist must be aware of the unavoidable hazards these emulsions present when working with them.

The safest product we were able to find was the Macdermid Plus 8000 Universal Resistant Emulsion, which consists of two parts, the filler and the sensitizer. The harmful aspect of this product is the sensitizer, which in this case is a Diazo. It comes in a powder form that must be added to the larger container of filler. The Diazo contains a chloride known as Benzenesiazonium-4-Phenylamine that if contact is made may cause skin irritation, and if exposed in large amounts, medical attention is recommended. Once mixed the emulsion is safe to use in a ventilated space, and has an overall Health Hazard rating of 1 which means “exposure could cause irritation but only minor residual injury if no treatment is given”. Using the proper precautions to protect ourselves, such as gloves, aprons, and face masks, we setup a series of experiments to better understand the characteristics of this product, and how to get the best possible results before bringing it into Zea Mays.

a downloadable copy of the “MacDermid Plus 8000 Universal Resistant Emulsion” msds can be found here