xTool screen printer and xTool S1 laser engraver

How to Screen Print at Home with xTool S1 Laser Engraver

Introduce

When the xtool screen printing machine was launched, it successfully turned traditional screen printing upside down, because people would never have thought that screen printing could be combined with laser engraving to make screen printing easy and fast. Traditional screen printing can take a whole day or even two days to produce a piece of artwork, but the xTool screen printing machine has been able to produce a printed artwork in less than an hour by combining it with a laser engraving machine. This revolutionary advance allowed countless screen printing art lovers to screen print easily at home, all they needed to do was have an xTool screen printer and a laser engraver.

In this article, I will use the xTool S1 and the xTool screen printing machine as examples, showing you how to screen print at home by using them. After reading this article, I believe you are excited about how convenient screen printing is nowadays because xTool screen printing machine does reinvent screen printing with laser. By the way, you can read this article to learn about the xTool S1 laser engraver and cutter. If you don’t have a laser engraver for screen printing, I recommend the xTool S1 and multi-color screen printer kit: xTool screen printer with S1.

xTool screen printer multi-color kit

What you can get from the xTool screen printer multi-color kit

I get a multi-color kit without a laser machine, which is a value of $479. If you want to purchase an xTool S1 20W laser engraver together, this is the best way to save more at $1979.99. The xTool screen printing machine multi-color kit includes the main parts: a xTool screen printer, 4 screen fixing frames, fixing pins for screen fixing frame, a magnetic board, a cutting mat, 12 pieces of the screen, 11 bottles of water-based ink, a squeegee, an ink spatula, a frame fixing piece for xTool S1 and a frame fixing piece for xTool D1, a canvas bag, and user manual books, etc.

The Multi-color kit has 3 more screen fixing frames and corresponding fixing pins than the Basic kit(single color); 7 more bottles of water-soluble ink and 9 more screens than the Basic set. So I recommend you choose the multi-color kit because it will meet your colorful screen printing at home and make your artwork more vivid.

xTool Screen printer multi-color kit unboxing

Screen printing preparation

Before starting to screen print with xTool S1 laser engraver, we need to prepare two simple mounting: mount the screen on the frame and mount the frame fixing piece on xTool S1, let’s learn it step by step.

1. Mount the screen on the frame

Firstly. Start with the back of the screen-fixing frame facing up and open all 6 fixing locks on the edge to the outside, as shown in image 1.

Secondly, place a piece of screen on top of the frame and lay it flat, you should make sure that the cardboard behind the screen is all the right way inside the frame. The fixing pin is then inserted into the groove of the fixing frame at an approximate angle of 45 degrees to fix the screen, as shown in image 2.

Thirdly, after completing the installation of the 4 fixing pins, rotate all the side fixing locks to the inside, as shown in image 3.

Fourthly, Then tear off all the cardboard from the back side, as shown in image 4. When you’re done, you’re done prepping the screen. In my practice, these are easy to do and the manual has a detailed tutorial on how to do them. After fixing the screen to the frame, the screen becomes very flexible.

1. Screen fixing frame backside up
1. Screen fixing frame backside up
2. Positioning the 4 fixing pins
2. Positioning the 4 fixing pins
3. Rotate the lock to the inside
3. Rotate the lock to the inside
4.Tear off the cardboard from the back of the screen
4. Tear off the cardboard from the back of the screen

2. Mount the frame fixing piece on xTool S1 laser engraver

The frame fixing piece is very important for laser engraving screens because the frame fixing piece holds the screen in the same position, which is critical for multi-color screen printing. The multi-color screen printing requires the engraving of multiple screens, the frame fixing piece is needed to help keep the screen in the same position every time the screen is changed.

Mounting the frame fixing piece on xTool S1 laser engraver is a breeze. Just mount the frame fixing piece on the right side of the xTool S1, screw it in place, and simply align the screen with the position when engraving the screen. When finishing these simple mounting, you can use the xTool screen printing machine and xTool S1 together to screen print artwork at home easily.

frame fixing piece on xTool S1
frame fixing piece on xTool S1
frame fixing piece on xTool S1 for multi-color screen engraving

How the xTool S1 empowers single-color screen printing

After completing the previous screen preparation, I couldn’t wait to get ready for laser engraving patterns on the screen, and the first project I worked on was a one-color screen printing. So let’s have some fun with the xTool screen printing machine at home!

1. Setting single-layer vector file with xTool Creative Space

Vector files are recommended, I’m currently using XCS 2.0, which is a more user-friendly version of the software, and its ability to convert images to vector files makes it easier for me to set layers. There are a few things to keep in mind when setting up a laser engraving for a screen.

Firstly, you need to use a vector file, if the image is in color, you can use the “trace image” function within XCS software to convert the image to a black-and-white vector file, this is the important way to ensure that the laser engraving on the screen is successful and that the coating will be completely burned off.

Secondly, you need to select “Screen preparation” mode and “0.2 mm Coated Screen” material on the software, because after selecting these two settings, the software will automatically set the energy parameters of laser engraving for you, which is one of the factors guaranteeing the success of the engraving on screen.

Thirdly, in order to ensure that you print out the pattern and the original picture the same, you need to set the picture on the software mirror image, according to the actual situation, and select “Reflect Horizontally” or “Reflect Vertically “. In this project, I just need to select “Reflect Vertically”.

single color screen printing sorftware seting
select “Screen preparation” mode and “0.2 mm Coated Screen” material
single color screen printing sorftware seting
Reflect Horizontally or Reflect Vertically

These three settings are critical to ensure that you can successfully engrave your screen with the xTool S1 laser engraver and print your work with the xTool screen printer. The rest is routine laser engraver operation. The whole operation is very easy, and the parameters can be set up on the xTool Creative Software, which is really user-friendly.

2. xTool S1 laser engraved on a screen

The next step is the super easy and efficient laser engraving step, since this is a single-color printing project, I only need to laser engrave one screen. As you can see in the picture below, the xTool S1 perfectly reproduces the setup image on the screen, and the burnt part of the laser allows the water-based ink to pass through perfectly. I am just amazed that the xTool screen printing machine has really reinvented screen printing with the laser, making it easy for me to screen print at home.

xTool S1 laser engraving the screen

3. Single-color screen printing on the T-shirt and a canvas bag

First, place the magnetic board on the xTool screen printer and lay a T-shirt or canvas bag on top of it, making sure the surface is flat and wrinkle-free. Next, release the rotary button on the bottom right of the xTool screen printer and lower the screen to a suitable place. You can press the screen gently with your finger, if the screen can touch the T-shirt, it is at the right distance and you can tighten the rotary button.

magnetic board on the xTool screen printer
Single-color screen printing on a T-shirt

In the single-color printing project, I used the xTool yellow water-based ink to screen print my T-shirt and a canvas bag. As shown in the picture below, simply pour the right amount of water-based ink onto the screen, and then use the squeegee to move from left to right while pressing down firmly. However, I repeated this action 2 times to ensure perfect printing results.

Single-color screen printing on T-shirt and a canvas bag

As you can see, the pattern really is perfect on my T-shirt and black canvas bag, which is a real feeling of accomplishment! It’s amazing how easily I can do screen printing at home!

xTool screen printer
xTool screen printer

How to multi-color screen printing with xTool S1

In this section, let’s experience more interesting multi-color screen printing at home together. Compared to single-color screen printing, multi-color screen printing requires laser engraving the same number of screens depending on the number of colors. So there are some things to keep in mind to ensure the success of multi-color screen printing.

1. Setting multi-layer vector file with xTool Creative Space

In my multi-color screen printing project, I plan to screen print a two-color cat. But at first, it’s just a picture, and you can’t turn different colors into different layers. Luckily, xTool Creation Software has “Trace Image” function, it will automatically recognize the image, convert it to a vector file, and separate the different colors into different layers. I can’t help but appreciate xTool Creation Software, it’s really user-friendly!

Convert the image to a vector file
Convert the image to a vector file

After the software automatically divided the image into different layers by different colors, I set up each layer the same way I did for the previous single-color printing. But here’s the important thing, for this project I needed to laser engrave a screen for the orange layer as well as a screen for the black layer!

It’s quite simple, I prepared two screens, and when I laser engraved the orange layer, I simply turned on “Multiple object selected” for the orange layer in the software, but I needed to turn it off for the black layer. When the orange layer is finished engraving on the screen, I have to change to the second screen and prepare to engrave the black layer, all I need to do is to turn off “Multiple object selected” for the orange layer and turn on “Multiple object selected” for the black layer in software.

turn off Multiple object selected

2. Application with frame fixing piece to multiple screens laser engraving

The frame fixing piece plays an important role in multicolor screen printing on the xTool screen printing machine. When laser engraving these two screens with the xTool S1, it is important to ensure that the two screens are kept in the same position to ensure that they perfectly reproduce the artwork after printing.

multi-color screen laser engraving
multi-color screen laser engraving

3. Multi-color screen printing on T-shirt and canvas bag

Multi-color printing with the xTool screen printing machine is really a fun process! For my project, I only needed to print two colors, which I did in my T-shirt and canvas bag. Multi-color screen printing is also easy, just replacing the two screens in turn, but it’s important to note that you have to wait for the ink first printed on the T-shirt to dry completely before you can screen print another color of ink on the T-shirt.

Multi-color screen printing on T-shirt
Multi-color screen printing on canvas bag

I could literally play with the xTool screen printer all day at home, and the screen printing makes my dressing even more personalized. Look! Today I’m going to wear my new design!

Multi-color screen printing on T-shirt and canvas bag

Tips for the problems you may encounter when screen printing with laser

1. Why the coating on the screen cannot be completely burned off during laser engraving?

This problem is most likely related to the laser energy setting; as long as the energy is adjusted correctly, the laser may easily burn off the coating’s 0.2mm thickness. When you pick “screen preparation” mode and “0.2 mm coated screen” material, the program will automatically determine the appropriate engraving parameters. However, you should avoid using colored pictures directly, especially those with several colors.

As illustrated in the image below, if you can utilize color photos for screen mode engraving, the coating of the dark color section of the pattern will be easily burnt off by the laser, however, the light color pattern will not be burned off.

Colorful image screen laser engraving
Colorful image screen laser engraving
Engraving pattern failed
Engraving pattern failed

The right way to do it is to use the “Trace Image” function of XCS to process the color image so that the color image can be converted into a vector file with only one color.

vector file for screen engraving
Vector file for screen engraving
Engraving pattern successfully
Engraving pattern successfully

2. Why wasn’t the pattern screen printed completely?

The pattern was incomplete because of issues during the screen printing process. There could be several reasons:

  • the screen might not have been prepared correctly, with the pattern not fully engraved due to incorrect settings, such as question 1, you probably used a colorful image directly for screen laser engraving.
  • Dried ink on the screen could have blocked the imprint of the pattern. This can happen if there were long breaks between printing or if the screen wasn’t cleaned properly.
  • The ink might not have been squeezed evenly through the screen, leading to missing or lighter areas in the pattern.
  • Large ink particles could have clogged the screen, preventing ink from passing through and creating the pattern.
  • The speed of squeezing the ink through the screen might have been uneven, causing some parts of the pattern to be too heavy, light, or missing entirely.
  • The ink might not have adhered well to the material being printed on, resulting in an incomplete pattern.

3. Why do the screen printing results become poor after using it several times?

The screen printing results became poor after using the screen several times because the screen itself degraded with use. There are three main reasons this might happen:

  • Loose Screen: The pressure from printing can loosen the screen over time. This loose screen makes the pattern imprint blurry, especially around the edges. Regularly checking and adjusting the screen tension is necessary.
  • Blocked Mesh: Water-based ink dries quickly and can clog the mesh if left on the screen for too long. This blockage prevents the ink from passing through properly, leading to poor printing results. Using a water mist on the screen, switching to faster-drying ink, or ink with higher fluidity can help prevent this.
  • Dirty Screen: Even with careful use, ink can leak or splatter onto the back of the screen, staining the imprints. Regularly checking and cleaning the back of the screen with water or a damp cloth is crucial to avoid such stains.

4. Why is the ink spread out at the edges of the pattern printed?

  • Ink on the Back of the Screen: During batch printing, some ink might leak or splatter and adhere to the back of the screen after the previous print. This ink on the back can then transfer to your next print, causing the edges to blur or spread. Regularly cleaning the back of the screen with a damp cloth before each print can prevent this.
  • High Ink Fluidity: The ink you’re using might be too fluid. Ink with high fluidity can easily spread beyond the intended pattern edges. It’s recommended to use ink with moderate fluidity, such as xTool-selected screen printing ink, which is specifically formulated to work well with the xTool Screen Printer.

Final thought

This article shows you how to screen print at home from my actual experience, and I can responsibly tell you how easy and convenient this innovative method of screen printing combined with laser engraving is! Compared to traditional screen printing, xTool has reinvented screen printing with the xTool screen printer and xTool S1 laser engraving, making screen printing a less complicated process. All of us art lovers can screen print our artworks at home.

xTool S1 and xTool screen printer