Make stencils for screen printing

Business Sectors (Suites): Post Press
Developed by: Improve
Approved on: 26 Feb 2021


This standard is for pre press operators preparing and processing stencils for screen printing

This standard covers:

  • selecting and preparing the appropriate mesh
  • transferring images to stencils using film **or by direct etching
  • processing stencils

It includes:

  • identifying the mesh type and frame size
  • selecting and preparing the frame
  • stretching the mesh (when necessary) and checking the tension

  • checking the condition of mesh material

  • degreasing mesh material (when necessary)
  • applying and drying emulsion or use pre emulsion mesh
  • positioning the photo-positive or use the appropriate file
  • exposing, developing and drying the stencil

When working with stencils it is important to make sure that the positive films match with artwork elements and the correct exposure values to produce required stencil characteristics are:

  • complete
  • sharp and clean
  • the required resolution

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

Prepare mesh and frame

  1. check the job details you have are complete
  2. identify and select appropriate mesh types and frame sizes for each job
  3. check that the tension of mesh on the frame meets job requirements, stretching it yourself where required
  4. check that new or used mesh is in a suitable condition for use in accordance with organisational procedures
  5. prepare mesh so that it is in the appropriate state to accept the stencil, roughening it and degreasing it in accordance with organisational procedures where required
  6. report when the frame or mesh is no longer suitable for use in accordance with organisational procedures

**Process screen printing stencils

7. check that the job details you have are complete
8. check that photo-positives are fit for use
9. apply emulsion to the screen and dry it in line with procedures where required
10. position photo-positives on screens and confirm that exposure is sufficient to suit stencil systems
11. develop stencils using water at the appropriate temperature and pressure in accordance with organisational procedures
12. dry stencils at the appropriate temperature, checking that drying is even over the entire surface, in accordance with organisational procedures

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. how to identify the machine to be used
  2. how to select the frame
  3. how to identify the required mesh material
  4. why it is important that reclaimed mesh is free from stains and ghost images and how to confirm this
  5. why pre-treatment is necessary for new screen meshes and how to select treatments
  6. how to treat mesh material
  7. why it is necessary to degrease the screen mesh and how to do this
  8. how to check that stencil residue has been completely removed from reclaimed screens
  9. the health and safety requirements when using chemicals and what personal protective equipment to use
  10. to whom to report unsuitable frames and meshes
  11. the methods to use in the production of the different types of stencil
  12. how to select the type of stencil to use
  13. how the stencil type affects the quality of print
  14. the materials available for the production of stencils
  15. what safe light conditions are
  16. how to determine the resolving power of materials
  17. why it is important to position the photo-positive correctly and how the machine affects positioning
  18. how to achieve the optimum exposure
  19. the effects of under- and over-exposure
  20. how the condition of the stencil affects the printed image
  21. what the critical parameters of the stencil are


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

31 Jan 2024





Originating Organisation


Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Printers, Printing Machine Minders and Assistants, Printing Trades

SOC Code



print, pre press, stencils, screen printing, photo positives, mesh, frames