DIY Computer-to-Screen (CTS) Screen Maker: A Technical Overview

Creating a DIY Computer-to-Screen (CTS) screen maker can be a cost-effective and efficient solution for screen printers looking to enhance their printing process. A CTS system, also known as Direct-to-Screen (DTS), allows users to print designs directly onto a coated screen without the need for film or additional ink. This article explores the technical aspects and considerations of building a DIY CTS screen maker, providing a step-by-step guide and practical solutions to common challenges.

Understanding CTS Technology

A CTS screen maker integrates digital technology into the traditional screen printing process. Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

  1. Screen Preparation: Load a normally coated screen into the machine.
  2. File Selection: Choose the design file to print onto the screen.
  3. Printing Process: The unit uses built-in RIP (Raster Image Processor) software to handle halftones and ensure precise registration.
  4. UV Exposure: After printing, the screen requires a quick UV exposure.
  5. Washout: The screen is then washed out as usual, ready for printing.

This method eliminates the need for film, reduces waste, and ensures consistent image placement on each screen.

DIY CTS: Components and Setup

To build a DIY CTS screen maker, consider the following components and steps:

Printer and Ink Selection

  1. Printer Type: A DIY DTG (Direct-to-Garment) style setup can be adapted for CTS purposes. Printers like the Epson 7880 are suitable for larger print areas.
  2. Ink Selection: Selecting the appropriate ink is crucial. Regular water-based inks may not be ideal as they can run on the emulsion. Ecosolvent inks are a potential alternative, but their reaction with the emulsion needs testing. Commercial CTS systems often use specialized UV-blocking inks, such as the M&R i-Pak UV Blocking Ink.

Software and RIP Configuration

  1. RIP Software: Use RIP software to manage color separations and halftone processing. Software like Simple Steps or Acro RIP can be configured for this purpose.
  2. Ink Management: For effective UV blocking, consider using white ink tanks with black ink in a two-pass print mode. This ensures adequate UV light blockage.

Addressing Common Challenges

Ink Compatibility

One major challenge in DIY CTS setups is finding compatible ink that does not run on the emulsion. Testing different ink types, such as ecosolvent or specialized UV-blocking inks, is essential. Understanding the ink properties used in commercial CTS machines can provide guidance.

Registration Accuracy

Maintaining accurate registration is vital for multi-color screen printing. The built-in RIP software in a CTS system ensures that images are printed consistently in the same position on each screen. This feature significantly enhances registration accuracy compared to traditional methods.

Exposure and Washout

After printing, a quick UV exposure is necessary to harden the emulsion around the printed design. The final step involves washing out the screen, which reveals the design ready for ink application.

Exploring Further

For those interested in diving deeper into the world of DIY CTS screen makers, various resources are available. Engaging with online forums and communities, such as T-Shirt Forums, can provide valuable insights and shared experiences from other DIY enthusiasts.

Additionally, consider exploring more technical content and tutorials on our YouTube channel at BCH Technologies. For hands-on learning and local support, visiting Greensboro, North Carolina, can offer opportunities to connect with experts and access further resources.


Building a DIY CTS screen maker involves understanding the technology, selecting the right components, and addressing common challenges. With the proper setup, a DIY CTS system can enhance the efficiency and precision of your screen printing process, making it a worthwhile investment for dedicated screen printers.

Follow our YouTube Channel, read our Tech blog, or visit us in Greensboro, North Carolina, to learn more about innovative screen printing solutions and DIY projects.

May 24th 2024 Jee Comendador

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