Transparency film is necessary when beginning your silk-screening project, as it’s the first step in your transfer from image to screen (and then to canvas). Whether sketched or inkjet printed, an image will first be crafted on transparency film before it is then transferred to a screen that is coated in photo emulsion with light. The benefit of most modern transparency film, however, is that you can create your image on the computer and then easily machine print it onto said transparency film, to start off your project with the most intricately detailed images and designs. That said, not all transparency film is created equal. Some are cut in smaller sheets, others larger rolls; there is a difference in crystal-clear appearance as well as paper weight. No matter what your project dictates, however, ARTnews has picked the product for you. Check out the best transparency film for silk screens below.
1. CISinks Waterproof Inkjet Transparency Film
We love this transparency because it’s slightly larger than the rest: at 11 by 17 inches, there are so many more possibilities than with a smaller sheet. But, that said, it’s still a manageable cut, as opposed to industrial-sized rolls. The porous paper absorbs the ink instantly, resulting in a streak-free print that dries instantly and is totally waterproof. Though your printer needs to be able to handle paper of this size, it prints easily with household tabletop inkjet printers. Additionally, though the whole pack costs almost $43, it’s actually quite affordable per piece, as the pack includes 100 sheets of transparency.
2. Gold Up USA Waterproof Inkjet Transparency Film
As teachers are always on the hunt for the best product for those on a budget, this is a great option when seeking transparency film that can be shopped in bulk. For less than $17, you can pick up a pack of 50 sheets of 8.5-inch by 11-inch transparency film for all of your silk-screening projects. And, if that’s not enough for you, the brand also sells the same in packs of 100 and 200. The sheets resist curling, are made of high-quality PET base material, and are prepped to be anti-static as well. The 8.5-inch by 11-inch size fits in most standard inkjet printers and dries instantly with a waterproof finish. It is four millimeters in thickness, meaning that it’s easy to maneuver and transfer once printed upon. The paper is not completely clear, as it boasts a slightly milky sheen that does not affect the transfer itself. Despite its price point, it’s just as reliable a product as its more expensive counterparts.
3. Koala Waterproof Inkjet Milky Transparency Positive Film
This transparency film is great for the at-home screen printer. These 8.5-inch by 11-inch screens fit in a normal inkjet printer and lie flat with no curling. The paper is five millimeters thick and made of a high-quality PET base material, boasting a slightly milky appearance in transparency. It absorbs ink well, as long as you make sure to print on the correct side of the paper and dries instantly after printed upon. To figure out which side is the printing side, simply wet your fingertip and touch both sides—the slightly sticky side of the paper is the printing side that enables the ink to properly adhere to your film. What’s more, this paper is also completely waterproof, so any excess liquid will not cause your print to bleed or smudge.
4. Octago Inkjet Transparency Paper
The thing that makes this paper stand out from the rest is its crystal-clear appearance. For screen printing, a milky tone doesn’t make much of a difference, but it must be noted that there are other projects for which a clearer transparency is necessary, like overhead projectors and special crafts. This film is sold in a pack of 30 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheets that are all inkjet printer compatible. The ink dries immediately and is produced in brilliant color. Even though each side is totally clear, it doesn’t mean that you can print on either side. In fact, there is a right and a wrong way to print. If you exhale while holding the sheet to your lips, the side on which you do not see your breath is the one that should be printed upon.
5. Screen Print Direct Waterproof Screen Printing Inkjet Film Transparency
This transparency sheet is a large roll, so it’s best used for machine-printed and industrial projects. The roll is 100 feet long, and, though this particular product is 13 inches wide, it comes in a variety of widths that reach all the way up to 63 inches. The film is five millimeters thick and has anti-curl technology integrated into it, so that the roll storage doesn’t cause any issues with transfer. The film is thick and durable and ensures clean lines and mess-free printing and transfer. Though an at-home printer is clearly not the place for this giant roll, it works with most industrial printers from Epson, Canon, HP, and others. Though it doesn’t matter in terms of the output of print, it must also be noted that this film is slightly milky in appearance and not crystal clear—which could matter if you choose to use the film for something other than classic screen printing.