Fat Quarterly Issue 7 is out now! All about colour palettes and where to find help in choosing colours for your projects.

Thermofax Printing

A little bit ago I finished off this design and sent it here to be made into a thermofax screen. I would have liked to have run it through the machine myself but I have yet to work up the courage to go to one of the tattoo shops around here to ask if they have a thermofax machine and whether I can use it!

The screen came back to me within a couple of days - extremely quickly! My only quibble is that I sent a design which I hoped would have been burned on the screen lengthways. Instead it was burned on the screen widthways. This made it difficult to print the edges of the design. I guess next time I have to be explicit with my requirements.

I used a special squeegee, which is more like those you use to clean windows with. Not a lot of pressure is needed to print with a thermofax screen. In fact, too much pressure will damage the screen. A normal squeegee would be too hard.

I also found that I had to change the angle which I held the squeegee. I needed to hold it more upright - about 60 - 90 degrees!

Another difference is there is no well for your ink. It is very easy to over ink the screen. With screen printing I used lots of ink but with thermofax printing this can get you in a bit of a pickle. At one point I had to scrape the ink off as it was getting everywhere and my prints were too ink saturated.

Clean up was very easy. The screen has a plastic frame so there is no worry about damaging cardboard. It is very important to only use cold water and hot water might damage the screen. But with a drop of washing up liquid and a soft paintbrush, the screen was clean in seconds!

What I loved about printing with this screen was the noise it made! Difficult to describe but like that noise when you scratch your fingernails against textured vinyl.

You can apparently turn the screen over and print to achieve a mirror image. However, this risks damaging the screen so I have not tried it yet. I will probably try this when I have had enough of this screen.

Next thing to try is pattern repeats!

Comments (7)


November 13, 2008 at 9:22 AM

This sounds like such an interesting technique! What type of dye did you use?


November 13, 2008 at 11:58 AM

wow, it looks amazing. What kind of ink did you use?

We opened your chocs last night, has a comfort night of wine and choccies as we were feeling a bit miserable about our cat, thanks for your comment on the blog x


November 13, 2008 at 5:32 PM

What's the screen's frame made out of?

Christina Lowry

November 14, 2008 at 1:32 AM

So cute! Congratulations! :)


November 14, 2008 at 3:49 AM

Natasha, I just found you through Tina's blog! I've recently ventured into thermofax printing. A lot less messy than photo emulsion.


November 14, 2008 at 4:37 PM

Thermofax screens are the same as Gocco screens. So you are printing with Gocco screens. I'd like to try it out. But I don't know of an American company that sells the screens and burns them for you.

My Gocco supplier said they will still get the unframed meshes(thermofax)but no bulbs. I can't afford to buy the Thermofax machines.


November 15, 2008 at 1:51 AM

Wow a thermofax screen Ill have to look into that one, images look great!