My Yudu Experience

    So I got a Yudu Machine for Christmas. In case you haven't heard of one, it's a device that helps you to create silk screens that you can use to squeegee ink onto a shirt, tote bag, invitations, you name it.

    First of all, I really am excited to share my experience with this machine because I have a feeling that some of you out there have considered purchasing one. My first note is that it is quite expensive. If you can find it on sale, the machine will cost you about $200. But that's nothing compared to the cost of the materials. If you purchase strictly Yudu products it could potentially cost you $7 per design NOT INCLUDING the ink or the shirt itself, including the shirt and ink, it would be closer to $15. Now if you were making the same design in bulk tee shirts that estimate would change but I think most people use the Yudu for just 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. I can have Zazzle make a tee shirt with my own custom design in MULTIPLE colors for only $21.45 that's including shipping.


    Now, here's my solution to this cost prohibitive problem. To make a screen you must use these sheets made out of emulsion (which 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 use one per project. I researched 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!

    Now, 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 silkscreening for only $37 and 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 from. I'll explain later.
    So now, 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, so far it hasn't really been a cost issue. I scrap off all my unused ink and put it back in the bottle AND I use a 40% off coupon at Michaels so I only pay about $10 for three bottles
    that last for many uses.


    Using the liquid emulsion is a LOT cheaper than using Yudu's emulsion sheets. It dries much more evenly and faster. It also coats your ENTIRE screen rather than a tiny 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 is unnecessary. I only coated one side, reduced exposure time and got a good result.


    When we first decided to try our hand at using the machine we were making a present for Brian's friend that he was visiting the next day which was a bad, bad idea, because of course 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 print an image on a transparency. You coat your screen with a light sensitive chemical (emulsion). You put your image underneath your coated screen and expose the image and the screen to a very intense light. 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 squeegee ink over the entire screen and the ink seeps through the areas without emulsion thus making your printed tee!

    Sounds simple. Right?
    Every time we tried to do this we got stuck on rinsing the emulsion after exposure to 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 on the transparency while I was exposing the screen to light, 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 only exposed my screen for 5 minutes and 20 seconds rather than the 8 minutes that is recommended. After that the emulsion came out LIKE BUTTA. No scrubbing, no rubbing, just the hard 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 emulsion side 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.


    But not before I had made the shirt for Brian's friend which came out all smudged:( But as you can see the above shirts I made for the girls and the one to the right came out great! (Remember I told you I was a sci-fi nerd).

    There were 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 to buy their stuff!

    So, I hope that helps someone out there who either has the Yudu and had given up on it or was considering purchasing one for themselves. If you have any more questions just leave them in the comments and I will try to answer them!

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My Yudu Experience

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