There are a few key essentials for any screen printer–one of which is the squeegee. To newcomers, it may not seem like the choice of squeegee you use when printing can make a difference, though the truth is that it can largely impact how your designs turn out. To help you get the best results, let’s go over some of the main types of screen printing squeegees, their characteristics, and how you can select the right one for your next project.
When you’re browsing through the different types of squeegees available, one common word you might notice is durometer, which refers to the hardness of the squeegee blade. So, some squeegees will have a higher durometer, meaning they have a harder blade, and others will have a lower durometer, or a softer blade. This will directly affect the thickness of the ink deposit.
Below are some of the main durometer levels you’ll find in squeegees, and what type of screen printing projects each is best suited for.
50-60 durometer (soft): leaves the thickest ink deposit, so it’s good for high-density designs and lower mesh counts; can be better suited to water-based or specialty inks
70 durometer (medium): the most versatile and a go-to for many screen printers; can work with both fine detail and high-density prints
80-90 durometer (hard): leaves a minimal ink deposit, so it’s a good fit for higher mesh counts and more complex designs
Comparing Blade Shapes
Squeegee blades can come in a few different shapes, including:
Round: These squeegees have a round profile and leave a thicker ink deposit
Square/straight: These have a flat profile, and are very versatile and widely-used
Beveled: These have an angled edge on one or both sides; they are best for precise and detailed prints
In addition to the shape and durometer of a squeegee, the blade and handle can both be made from a variety of materials. Traditionally, the blades were made from natural rubber. These types of squeegees are still used and are some of the cheapest available, however, they are known to absorb inks more than other materials and aren’t as long-lasting as some of the other options.
Nowadays, some of the squeegee blades that are more widely used include those made from neoprene and polyurethane. Neoprene squeegees are in the middle of the road budget-wise and are more durable than rubber blades.
On the higher end are polyurethane squeegee blades, which are the most durable you can find. Many professional screen printers like using neoprene or polyurethane squeegees because of how they can withstand long-term use.
When it comes to the handle, there are a few common choices: wooden, aluminum, or plastic. Wooden handles tend to be the most comfortable to use, though they can be difficult to clean if they get ink or other substances on them. If you’re using a plastic or aluminum handle for better durability, consider finding one with an ergonomic handle for comfortable use.
Which Squeegee is Best?
There is no squeegee option that is necessarily better than the others. It all comes down to your own personal preferences and the type of job you’re doing. Understand how your selection of squeegee will impact the final results of your prints, and choose accordingly. For this reason, you may want to have a number of different squeegees on hand to handle each of the different types of jobs you complete at your shop.