I received a Yudu Machine for Christmas. In case you haven't heard of Yudu, it's a device that helps you to create silk screens. With the silk screen you can apply ink onto tee shirts, tote bags, invitations, you name it. I would like to offer my recommendation and advice in regards to this amazing little machine. When used correctly, it can be fun and cost effective.
First, I really am excited to share my experience because I have a feeling some of you have considered purchasing one for yourself. My first warning is that the machine itself is quite expensive. If you can find it on sale, the machine will cost you about $200. However, that's nothing compared to the cost of the materials. If you purchase strictly Yudu products it can potentially cost you $7 per design not including the ink or the shirt itself. Including the shirt and ink, it's closer to $15. If you were using the same design for many shirts that estimate would change. However, I believe most people use the Yudu for one or two tee shirts per design.
With the introduction of Zazzle, the idea of making your own silk screened shirt has become less attractive. Zazzle can make a tee shirt with my own custom design in multiple colors for only $21.45 that's including shipping.
To make a screen you must use emulsion sheets (emulsion is a light sensitive chemical). Each sheet bought through Yudu costs $10 a piece! What?! That's a lot considering it's very easy to ruin a sheet and you must use one sheet per project. I looked for cheap sheets online and came across liquid emulsion. So I bought some. It came in a 1 quart container. It says one quart will coat 30-50 screens but it also says to use one coat on each side of your screen which isn't necessary. So you could potentially get 100 screens out of one quart for only $35 including shipping. That's only 35 cents a sheet compared to $10 per sheet!
The inkjet transparencies are another cost issue. Yudu sells a pack of 5 for $10. That's $2 a sheet. I went on Stuff4print and bought 100 inkjet transparencies specifically intended for silk screening for only $37 with free shipping. That's only 37 cents a sheet. It's VERY important that you use transparencies designed for the type of printer you're going to print your design on. I'll explain later.
I've got the cost down to 72 cents a shirt rather than $7 AND I buy my tee shirts on sale for about $2.50 a piece at Michaels. So all together I can make a silk screen and shirt for a total of $3.22! Not bad.
As far as ink is concerned, it hasn't been a cost issue. I scrap off my unused ink and put it back in the bottle. I also use a 40% off coupon at Michaels (which you can get from the Michaels smart phone app). I only pay about $10 for three bottles which last for many uses.
THE LIQUID EMULSION
Using the liquid emulsion is much cheaper than using Yudu's emulsion sheets. It dries much more evenly and faster. It also coats your ENTIRE screen rather than a small 8.5x11 space. HOWEVER, it is a lot messier and takes some hand and eye coordination to apply. That's your only drawback. Once you get the hang of the application, it's easier than using the emulsion sheets. The instructions that came with my kit said to coat both sides of the screen. I've found that to be unnecessary. I only coated one side, reduced my exposure time and achieved a good result.
When we first decided to try our hand at using the machine we were making a present for Brian's friend whom he visited the following day. This was a bad, bad idea. Our first few attempts were failures. I was up until 2am that morning with a cold doing the finishing touches on a shirt with many mistakes. Bummer.
Let me tell you my experience so that if you decide to try the Yudu you won't struggle as we had. Our biggest problem was rinsing off the emulsion after we had exposed the screen to light.
If you are not familiar with screen printing it works this way....you print an image on a transparency. You coat your screen with a light sensitive chemical (emulsion). You put an image underneath your coated screen. You then expose the screen and image to a very intense light placed underneath. The emulsion that is exposed to the light hardens. The emulsion that was hidden by your image remains soft and comes off easily when you rinse it with cold water. You're left with a screen that has a hole in the shape of your image. You then wipe ink over the entire screen with a squeegee and the ink seeps through the areas without emulsion thus creating your design on your printed tee!
Sounds simple. Right?Every time we tried to do this we couldn't rinse the unexposed emulsion after exposing it to the light. IT WOULD JUST NOT COME OFF! And when we resorted to scrubbing, the finer details of the design were rubbed off too. After 4 or 5 screens I figured out my problem. First, my transparency wasn't opaque enough. Therefore some light was getting through the image while I was exposing the screen to light, thus slightly hardening the emulsion.
If the image on your transparency isn't solid black this will happen. At first, I had set my printer to "normal" on "regular paper". I then set it to "transparency" which was even worse. Finally, I set it to "fine", "regular paper", "vivid colors" and I got a very black solid result. However, I could see that some light was still going to make it through the image so I also reduced the exposure time to 5 minutes and 20 seconds rather than the recommended 8 minutes. After that the emulsion came out like butter. No scrubbing, no rubbing, just the spray hose in my sink.
One more thing! I coated my screen on the side without the lip and when I exposed the screen I placed the side with the emulsion against the transparency so that there was no space between the screen and the design. This reduces the amount of light exposed to your design.
Unfortunately, it wasn't before I had made the shirt for Brian's friend which came out smudged. But as you can see the shirts featured in this post came out great!
There are some faded areas in the letters but I think that can be solved by using more ink and a better squeegee. Yudu provides a hard plastic one but if you go to Michaels you can buy a soft rubber one. And always use their 40% off coupon.
So, I hope this post has helped someone who either has the Yudu and gave up or someone who was considering purchasing it but was on the fence. If you have any more questions just ask them in the comments below and I will try to answer them as best I can!