How to Screen Print Surfboard decals onto Rice Paper

Rice Paper originally came from China and Japan and made from, you guessed it, rice!

Whilst still known as rice paper it now can be made from other raw materials including Bamboo and Hemp and can have a variety of finishes. 

Some are more porous than others and for making decals that you can laminate onto surfboards or ceramics we used the more porous variety so the paper becomes more translucent when applied. 

Screen printing onto rice paper is no different than printing on to most other kinds of paper. However it is quite thin and delicate so care is required. Below are some of the items and equipment we recommend for this process. 

Screens

We recommend using a higher mesh count, 90t or 120t that lets less ink through and is better for finer lines and detail. 

Of course you can use a lower mesh count for some speciality inks and heavier coverage but here we are focusing on a thinner deposit. 

Squeegees

We used a square blade with a medium stiffness (75shore). To keep a thinner deposit make sure your square blade is nice and sharp. If it is old and rounded then you will get more ink down that maybe is wanted. 

You could also use a v-cut blade for very high detail and finer prints as this blade shape puts even less ink down that a square blade. 

Inks

Most water based inks should be fine, but in this instance we used Speedball waterbased acrylic ink that stands up better to the resins used in surfboard construction. 

                                              

Get your supplies ready. As with all printing the setup is very important. 

We used a small amount of waterbased pallet adhesive, just enough to stop the paper moving underneath our screen. You can also use some masking tape to hold it in place.

We set up our screen with about 2mm off contact. (that's the height of the screen from the paper before printing). This allowed the screen to pull up nicely as the squeegee passes over it. 

 

We used a Custom Exposed Aluminium Screen with 90T mesh to hold the high detail of the Halftone image. (created in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator)                                        

 

Flood the screen lightly then clear with a smooth but firmish pull. Its best if you can clear the mesh on the first pass. This prevents too much ink laying down and helps prevent any blurring or bleeding. (A well exposed screen from good art work is the first step here.. )

The decal Paper (Rice paper) we used had a matte side and a slightly shiny side. We print on the matte side, the shiny side goes down on the foam of the surfboard and stops the ink bleeding through. 

The finished decal. A fine halftone print. Here you can see the semi transparent nature of the rice paper. This will become pretty much clear when the resin (or glaze) is laid over the top. 

Get a full Custom Exposed Screen and printing kit and start making your own decals today.