Posted on August 23rd 2016 @ 3:11 pm by

Designing tips for screen printing

Silk screen printing screens stored in a wooden rack ready for p

Screen printing isn’t limited to only T-shirts. Clothing items are the most obvious choice, but the process works well for tote or lunch bags, mousepads, vinyl binders, clock faces, decals, balloons, tiles, flags, and signs too. Some of these items require different types of inks, preparation, and drying techniques, but the same basic design considerations have to be used.

Unlike printers that can lay down several colors in a precise dot sequence to create full-color images, screen printing is a stencil method that uses one screen per color and lays down one color at a time, usually starting with the lightest color to allow for overlapping.

The first thing to consider when you start a screen printing project is what colors of ink you plan to use. It’s helpful to plan the color of the substrate at the same time.

By mocking up these combinations on-screen, you’ll be able to make sure you have your desired contrast and the colors work well together. Keep in mind that if one of the design’s colors is the same as your T-shirt, you can use it as negative space and save on an ink color.

ScreenPrinting3_0816After the colors are chosen, then add all of them to the color swatches panel in the software you’re using to design your image. These can be either RGB or Pantone (PMS) colors. Keep in mind that PMS colors can vary from screen to screen, so rely on your printed Pantone guide for the expected outcome on your substrate and be sure to use the Solid Coated Formula Guide. If using RGB, you’re relying on the your screen colors to choose the closest available PMS color based on what you see. This can be affected by the brand of the screen, the computer display setting, and ambient lighting.

A vector format, such as EPS or AI, that uses math instead of pixels to draw shapes, lines, and curves is preferred when designing for screen printing. Illustrator is a favorite software of designers and allows for resizing without sacrificing quality. A vector format is generally also smaller in file size and isn’t flattened, so it’s highly editable.

When you’re ready to work on your design, change the background color to match your substrate and create a separate layer for each color. This will enable you to turn the colors on and off, which gives you a visual of how each ink color works individually.

If you’re working with text, I recommend that you leave the working text box on the pasteboard. Then, copy and paste it on to your artboard and create outlines. If you’re sharing your file with anyone, this eliminates the need to worry about fonts. You never know where you’ll end up with a design, and sometimes it’s necessary to start over with an element. Trying to remember what font you used and any other formatting you started with can be time consuming and frustrating.

Another consideration is the size of the lines in your design, and it strongly relies on the size of mesh being used to screen print. Generally, a 0.5pt line is too small, and 1pt still might not be big enough. If you don’t know the size of mesh being worked with, then, to be safe, you might need to use 2pt lines. Also, if you’re using your design for several types of printing, be aware of how resizing is affecting your lines and what your preference setting are. There is a Scale Strokes & Effects option in Illustrator under General.

Don’t forget that just by creating a design in Illustrator, you’re not guaranteeing a vector image. To do so, you must save using the proper file format. Vector formats include AI, EPS, and PDF.

These are just a few tips to get you started designing for screen printing. No two screen printing setups are identical, so be sure to understand the resources you have available and what limitations they have before you start designing.

Posted on August 5th 2016 @ 2:23 pm by

Stuffed spaces – classroom storage ideas

Classrooms seem to constantly need more storage. Whether it’s finding space to store pop bottles for AP rockets, wood blocks for CO2 cars, or screens and ink for screen printing, you often have to be creative and take advantage of the smallest spaces. Schools like to use what they have and make things fit when they can.

To take an existing old or generic product, and making my own modifications to meet my classroom needs was common during my teaching days. Don’t get me wrong – I had adequate scope and breadth for what I was teaching, but using a flat filing storage cabinet to store light-sensitive offset plates made me nervous on more than one occasion. This method for storage worked as long as students followed the procedures they were taught, however occasionally a drawer would be left open and light-sensitive materials would become damaged.

Later in my career, when I began teaching drafting, I appreciated having the flat file storage to better manage student projects, and the use was more in line for its design. Although teachers are known for their creativity, getting boxes from the schools’ food service or copy room is practical for only so long, and those resources can become limited depending on the number of other staff looking for alternate storage. So what is a teacher to do?

First, purge.

I was a teacher who kept everything that could possibly have a use. Looking back, that might not have been the best use of my space or time. I had boxes of curriculum that went back more than a decade and were used by several teachers prior to me. Was they ever going to be used again? The short answer was no, but then I might have that one student whom I could use it to connect with.

Teaching Graphic Arts and using a large-format printer, I needed a way to keep track of different types of roll paper, and I found a wire bin roll file useful for keeping things in order. In the end, I had all the resources in current material to meet my students’ needs, especially with the changes in technology happening as rapidly as they do.

Look at what you’re going to need for storage in the next year to hold the supplies for planned activities. Plan ahead and be sure to leave space for those activities you will hear about for the first time in the coming months. Then plan for about ten percent more if you can.

You’ll also need to plan for any records you might need to keep on students based on your school and state needs. Vocational and Technology teachers in my state, while I was teaching, needed to keep grade documentation and competency profiles for several years past a student’s graduation date. That takes storage space.

Filing cabinets are a great resource, and come in more than the standard two, four, or five drawer vertical file. Consider a lateral file for similar storage in a more convenient place to access space and make an attractive addition to your classroom. Another option for keeping student supplies is to use a storage cart for the current project or for individual student temporary storage. These come in three-, six-, 10-, or 15-drawer configurations to meet your specific application.

If money is a problem (and in the school setting, where isn’t it!) there are usually students in the wood shop or cabinet making program that need a project to do. This might be ideal from a space perspective, as you can design and have the space custom built to your needs. The downfall is you might be waiting for a student to have time to do the project, or you might need to finish it yourself if the school year is over before the project is complete.

Storage is a never-ending problem. Ultimately, you’ll need to be creative where and how you manage your storage space.

Posted on July 28th 2016 @ 8:17 pm by

Simplifying 3-D to 2-D with the Ortho-Box™


Visualization takes practice. Being able to picture all the angles of an object without it right in front of you is no easy task. Luckily, Hearlihy has you covered with the Ortho-Box™.

An orthographic view is a representation of a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. This is what the name for the Ortho-Box originates from.

The Ortho-Box is a simple way for students to improve their spatial reasoning and 3-D picturing skills. To use the Ortho-Box, place an object inside and use overhead projector markers to draw what you see on the clear, acrylic sides of the box from the front, top, and right. You can use the included wooden shapes as your object or any other object you happen to have. After finishing the drawing, open the box and look at the top and side panels to see an orthographic view of the object inside.

The Ortho-Box gives students a hands-on approach to grasp the basics of an object in the physical world before moving on to the digital world. Doing a few drawings of different objects provides students a solid foundation leading into the next step of using 3-D computerized projection. The Ortho-Box is a hands-on project that all drafting and engineering students can benefit from.

Posted on July 21st 2016 @ 10:00 am by

Metalwork steels skills


Metalworking3_0716There are a lot of processes that lend themselves easily to a classroom. Some processes require specific equipment to perform tasks. Other processes take very little tooling to do the work.

Traditionally, metalworking is a field that requires specific equipment, but there might be a way to incorporate some small-scale metalworking processes into your classroom, even if you have limited tools to work with.

Shops that have the metalworking tools in them today might include a punch/shear machine, a rivet/bend/roll machine, and scroll formers to do the basic operations. Others might have English wheels and planishing hammers for smoothing and forming sheet metal into shapes other than bends and seams.

Basic operations that students need to know to be Metalworking2_0716successful in metalworking include riveting, bending, rolling, punching, shearing, scrolling, and twisting. Metal can also be formed through casting, heat treating, or forming. Seldom does the raw material take final form after one process. Even a simple hammer, as it’s manufactured, goes through several dies as it’s drop forged, trimmed, given the final finish, and then receives the handle.

A hip roof toolbox has been the project of many industrial arts students over the years, and with good reason. The student uses their knowledge of measuring distance and angles to create a three-dimensional object from a flat sheet of metal. The base is a rectangular cube that includes folding, bending, seaming, and riveting the sides together with the bottom with mostly 90-degree angles. The top of the toolbox teaches students how to cut, bend, fold, seam, and rivet with varying angles. Attaching handles and a top put the finishing touches on some projects; others include building a tray of either sheet metal or wood to make the toolbox more versatile.

As you plan your classroom for next year, consider how the addition of some small metalworking tools can teach processes and increase the skills that your students will take with them.

It takes a little ingenuity, knowledge of the processes, and understanding of your materials’ characteristics to make really great projects.

The more exposure a student has to a variety of skills, the more options they have in their future. A metalworking project might just spark that one student into a career that they might not have considered otherwise.

Related links:
Metal Toolbox Kit
Practical Workshop Version 2

Hearlihy’s website has had a facelift this year.

When visiting the site, most viewers will notice a rotating image at the top of the home page, which is about three key topics for Hearlihy visitors: drafting, 3-D printing, and printing technology.

When each image is selected, it opens a feature page on that topic that provides a short description, links to major product categories in the online store, and links to articles for most sections.

The biggest change, however, is the addition of the Drafting 101 section. This hosts past articles and new information together in one convenient place for those who need to learn more about drafting, architectural modeling, screen printing, and more.

New Drafting 101 section features helpful content

New Drafting 101 section features helpful content

Current articles include:

  • Why Teach Hand Drafting?
  • Drafting 101: The Basics
  • Create a Custom Drafting Kit
  • 3-D Visualization with Ortho-Box
  • Raise Funds with Printing Tech
  • Using the Mug Wrap

The smallest change appears to the right of the Store section tab: the Community tab has been renamed News, and it links to the Hearlihy In the News blog. Select this tab to find the latest information about drafting and classroom technologies, new Hearlihy products, discounts, and more.

However, we’re far from done.

Checking back over the next six to nine months is a good idea for those interested in more content – we plan to add more articles about 3-D printing and the process of screen printing. Videos are another medium we’re going to develop and add to the Drafting 101 section this year to help teachers and other Hearlihy customers learn how to better choose activities and use our products.

We didn’t want to completely overhaul the site and potentially confuse regular visitors, so it has no radical structure changes. The left product menu is still on the site, so returning visitors shouldn’t feel lost, but both new and returning visitors will easily find helpful information.

So browse the new and stay tuned for additional content in 2016.



Posted on May 25th 2016 @ 7:05 pm by

Building bridges helps student engagement



That sound you just heard was the latest creation from one of your students breaking and shattering into tiny pieces. It was a balsa wood bridge that was carefully measured, glued, and pieced together to test the strength of the student’s design, proving how much the student learned about geometric shapes and force.

Bridge building is an activity using small wooden structures that students engineer and then build to destroy.

The destruction is not just for the sake of seeing sticks break but also for seeing what shapes and structural designs will hold the most force with the least deflection. Kids love every minute of it. It can teach engineering design concepts, mathematical principles, and the production and use of accurate drawings and meet several standards in the process.

This type of activity has been around for a long time. Most of the time, teachers will use balsa or basswood, glue, and some method to hold the pieces together while the glue dries. There are teachers who use toothpicks or paper instead of wood with super glue or white glue for the building process. Yet in the end the objective is the same, to see whose design will hold the most force using a structure tester.

Designing the Project


Perf Inserts can make building easier, especially when used with the Construction Caddy II.

To design this project for your classroom, you can develop the parameters from your experience. This enables you to create the activity from the ground up, including the guidelines, the materials used, and the bridge testing method. You can also base the activity on what resources you have available or be creative and obtain the required resources.

If you don’t want to start from scratch, take a look at the Pitsco BridgePak. The package is available in a 10- or 25-pack, which includes glue, The Pitsco Bridge Book, and student guide sheets. There are also options at including a Balsa Bridges – Getting Started Package, instructions, materials, supporting material to guide the student through the building process, and structure testers. This can help streamline learning by utilizing curriculum developed by those who have mentored students in bridge building during their time in the classroom. This curriculum might also identify standards that are met as well.

Setting Guidelines


The Timber Cutter is a great tool for cutting wooden sticks.

Here are some ideas for requirements to include in your guidelines: material used and quantity, the type and quantity of glue you expect them to use, dimensions, whether you will allow cross bracing, and lamination limitations. Some teachers set up a store and charge the student, using points as currency, to teach efficiency in gathering and using materials. Others provide a set amount of material at the beginning and give credit for material returned. These methods reinforce accountability as a part of the project.

Be sure to give the students resources to research the forces that a bridge will undergo. They will need to decide how to handle each of the destructive loads placed on a bridge – static and dynamic force, compression and tension, and torsion and shear.

Activity Alternatives

Do you have students that have experience with bridge building already? Have them explore beyond a standard beam bridge. If the beams are long enough for the bridge to meet the criteria set by you or the curriculum, encourage advanced students to build an arch bridge. Add string or fishing line and see how a suspension bridge can withstand the forces compared to the bridges built by first-time builders. These options are good activities for students who have been through a similar curriculum and think they know the best way to build a bridge.


Now that your students have their bridges built, it’s time to test them. Make the activity fun for yourself and for your students. If the resources are available, place a camera to show the stresses on the bridge and stream the action to a TV in the classroom so all the students can view without obstructions.

The skills that students learn during this activity range from determining structural strength to selecting material to applying construction methods. Students will learn to work under a time constraint and can work individually or with a partner, learning teamwork. The project will run smoother when appropriate constraints are placed on the student.

Bridge building can give your students opportunities to practice the engineering design process in an environment conducive to learning. They can make something, have it break, and still get a good score and learn skills that will help them prepare for life.

Posted on May 10th 2016 @ 5:13 pm by

The latest Hearlihy catalog has arrived!


The April 2016 Hearlihy catalog is here!

At the bottom of our new catalog (and all others) you will see the words:

  • Superior customer service
  • Engaging products
  • Fast shipping
  • Customer satisfaction

This is not just a footer at the bottom of a page, it’s the way we do business. From our helpful call center to the warehouse staff who prepares your order for fast shipment, your satisfaction is truly the bottom line. And let’s not forget about the student – who is ultimately why we’re here.

Drafting is a long-standing art form and engineering process for putting ideas to paper (or cave wall, depending on how far back you want to go).

WhetheHearlihy_Cover2_0416r it be for a dwelling or a mechanical part, hand drafting is a communication tool for conveying a desired outcome or sharing ideas. Lines, shapes, construction symbols, and the written word can be more easily applied to drawing surfaces using Hearlihy’s vast array of templates, scales, French curves, boards, and papers.

For nearly a half century, it’s been Hearlihy’s desire to provide what our customers need and want for the drafting classroom.

Our many prepackaged tool kits are compiled to help teachers in their purchasing decision for a desired area of focus: Mechanical, Engineering, or Architectural. From beginning drafting to advanced drafting, we’re sure we have what it takes to benefit both. If not, give us the opportunity to give you a bid for compiling your own prepackaged custom kits. A Hearlihy representative is ready to assist you.

Over the last few years, you might have become aware of our 3-D printing packages and curriculum – another great tool for letting students see how their ideas can become a tangible object, from conception to the drawing board to a computer to production via the 3-D printer. This adds to our other successful products such as bridge making and testing, screen printing, metals, alternative energy, and model building.

Our new ARCKITS are sure to become a favorite for architectural model builders looking for a reusable snap-part building system.

Hearlihy is a trusted source that teachers return to again and again to help make their drafting program all that it can and should be. And as mentioned earlier, we have other engaging products as well. Who said that drafting class can’t be exciting?

Thanks for your continued support. We look forward to a long-lasting relationship that benefits both teacher and student. And you, our valued customer, make it possible.

Posted on March 30th 2016 @ 7:42 pm by

Hat printing tips


Are your students getting ready for summer and wanting to use your screen printing press to print hats or visors, but aren’t sure how? Are you feeling like you don’t have the right tools to do the job? Of course, you can find suppliers with attachments to make hat printing easy, but those are typically pretty expensive. With a few minor modifications and a little ingenuity, you can put your design on hats in no time with a smaller investment. Plus, this can be a great problem-solving and engineering activity to help engage interested students.

The process of printing a hat is not much different from printing a t-shirt. You prep your screens and get your artwork ready. Next, you expose the artwork onto the screen and process it. Place the screen on the press, align the screen, and then print the image. Dry the ink on the substrate, and deliver the product. Reclaim your screen and start over. The end product with hats is a little different as there are some specific challenges to overcome.

I have known screen printers to claim, “If you can hold it still long enough, I can print it.” They were referring to the type of substrate that could be printed on, and a hat is just another substrate. The difficulty in hat printing comes from a curved surface with a projection (the bill) close to where you want to put your design. Let’s look at some options to overcome these difficulties.

The artwork you’re going to use for your hat needs to be sized to match. A typical full front cap is about 4″ x 6.5″, so the artwork will need to be smaller than that. The preparation of this artwork is the same as for t-shirts, but it’s recommended to use less detail on a cap, as it’s harder to hold lines that are too thin.

There are two basic options of getting an image onto a hat – direct and indirect (heat transfer).

HatPrinting_0316To print the indirect design, you print your image onto transfer paper like you do for other projects. To transfer the image, a transfer press is probably not the best option as it will flatten out the hat and make creases where you don’t want them. The best course is to see what the recommended time and temperature is for the transfer, and use a household iron with the hat on the end of an ironing board to help maintain the curvature of the panel on the hat. Use an infrared thermometer to verify ink temperature for the cure.

If you have a lot of hats to do, you can try the Cap Press with Golf Cap Platen. This is specifically designed to transfer a printed design onto hats, and can be used to put logos on t-shirt sleeves and other smaller, hard-to-transfer locations.

If you’re direct printing, you have a couple of options: curved or flat. Direct printing on a hat with a flat surface may be easier for someone who wants to do just a few hats and has some tools to make parts that will fit on their press.

To print on the curved surface of the hat, you can make a smaller screen that has a radius similar to that of the front of the cap, using a thin edge on one side. Most frames that use this method have a thin, flexible holder that is usually made of thin steel or other metal that the screen is mounted to. It needs to be strong but flexible. The fabric tension on this device is extremely important to the success of the final print. It must be tight.

The holder with the processed design is then attached to a curved holder, creating a frame. Three sides of the holder can be lumber, with one side either 1/4 metal or wood. This allows for close alignment with the bill of the cap. The platen will have to be designed with a curvature similar to the shape of the hat, and must be a little larger (at minimum) than the design to be printed. The thin edge is the part that is nearest the bill of the hat. This is the method that most commercial hat printers use to mount on their press.

HatPrinting2_0316The platen is a smooth surface, and a spray tack can be used. To keep the shape of the printing area consistent, however, a clamp of some type will be needed to hold the hat stationary. The key is to keep the hat from moving while you’re laying down the ink.

To print the hat flat, just make a smaller platen for your press that the hat will fit on. You will need to use a screen with a thin edge for near the bill, and you’ll need some type of hold-down for the hat. Without a hold-down, the hat will move around on the platen and the image will be smeared or else not able to be kept in alignment for subsequent colors.

For both curved and flat, you will need to cure the ink. To do this, running the hat through the same heat tunnel that you use for other printing will be fine. You might have to adjust the height of the opening and delivery, which means you might need to slow down the belt to get a full cure on the ink.

Printing hats can be a fun challenge and bring creativity and problem solving into your classroom. Plus, they have the bonus of showing off their talent throughout the year.

Posted on March 28th 2016 @ 10:10 pm by

Hands on, real world


Ready to get your hands dirty? As the T in STEM, technology stands as an important asset in the hands-on STEM approach to learning that is typical of many modern makerspaces. But let us home in a little more on the make of makerspace. While technology is definitely a tool that requires continual exploration in a use-it-or-lose-it understanding, there are also benefits to taking your makerspace old school.

In my day, we didn’t spend our time in front of monitors – we were outside . . . working or, as my dad liked to say, experiencing the real world. I would quote Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man and say, “That’s the way it was, and we liked it!” but, truth be told, we would have preferred to experience the technology of our day instead of experiencing the real world.

All of that to say that those real-world experiences really were the best things that we could have done. They gave us hands-on experiences. They gave us the opportunities to think on our toes, so to speak.

We made decisions by analyzing the situation, our supplies, our power, and the extent of work that needed to go into any given situation. We couldn’t google how-to directions. We couldn’t watch a YouTube video to walk us through, step by step, how another person completed the same or a similar project in the past. We didn’t have software to lay out our project for us. Nope, none of that. We worked it all out on our own.

Drafting is a good example of mixing a little old school into your makerspace learning. It’s not without a purpose. Learning drafting from scratch is a great way to get a real understanding of all that goes into the process. The drafting software can simplify things, but you will have the knowledge and skill to create your own blueprints by beginning with pre-digital tools.

A few product ideas to add to your makerspace – True Scale House Framing Kit, Hearlihy Wood Framing Kit, Combo Drafting Kit, Grid Paper, drawing boards, and so much more. These tools will get you started experiencing drafting.

While I appreciate and value the surge in and continual expansion of technologies and all the benefits that are at our disposal because of it, it’s also a reassurance to know that we don’t have to rely on technology to get a job done. We can gain the skill by learning to do it ourselves before we turn to technology for assistance.

Posted on March 3rd 2016 @ 9:11 pm by

Why we should still learn hand drafting


It seems a foregone conclusion that drafting is done with computer-aided drafting (CAD) software in the modern world. But does that necessarily mean that drafting by hand is no longer something we should teach?

According to many working drafters and architects, the answer is simply “no.”

On the CADD Manager blog, people wish for coworkers with better drafting foundations, citing that operating CAD does not make one a drafter. One commenter says, “I could teach someone to use CAD in a month. It would take a year or more to teach them to be a drafter.”

CAD Professionals List Benefits of Traditional Drafting
A look at forums for drafters and architects reveal many professionals agreeing with this line of thinking. While most agree CAD is a needed skill, they also contend that a foundation in hand-drawn drafting is important for a several reasons:

  • It encourages students to think through ideas and to have better processes and workflow than CAD. In the long run, learning this mindset can save time even when using CAD to do the drawing. In fact, several professionals commented that old-school drafters who did not use CAD were no slower than their CAD-using counterparts.
  • Traditional drafting teaches visualization and three-dimensional understanding better than software.
  • Hand drawing is better for forming ideas (while software is better suited to precision and clarity of a design).
  • It doesn’t require the large monetary output to get started like CAD does – high school and college students can do it at home with a modest investment.
  • Architectural CAD software isn’t as fluid as artist software. Sometimes, hand drawing is more freeing and creative.
  • The presentation of hand drawings is more aesthetically pleasing, especially to clients.
  • Traditional drafting – according to architect George Showman – boosts students’ confidence more than CAD. Plus, the relatable scale of hand drawings makes them better for peer review.

The comments on the Arch Daily website signal that many professionals and students find that the traditional skills are important.

“I find that hand drawing is a reliable complimentary tool to my digital modelling. With all the things that computers can do now, it is easy to get caught up with the ability of whatever tools you are now using . . . . In retrospect, hand sketching helped me control my digital tools (instead of it controlling me).” – Amanda

Some point out the difference between learning hand drafting within education versus the workforce.

“I think that drawing in an educational setting serves a different purpose than drawing in a working office. To me, the previous is about learning to see. First-year students, specifically, tend to ‘see’ a building very simply; however, once they have to reproduce what they see by hand, they start to understand the intricacies [of] a building and its parts.” – Mark M

So while teaching CAD is key to career success in drafting, it looks as though learning hand drafting lays the foundation for improving workflow and processes – soft skills that are hard to gauge but important.

Need help?
Need some assistance with teaching hand drafting? Consider some of these classic and affordable resources or visit the Hearlihy store to find others.

Instructional Workbook for Drafting Level 1 (and instructor’s guide) – Students are first introduced to drafting instruments and equipment and how to measure using a scale. They become skilled with American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) line conventions and geometric construction and conclude with basic dimensioning and drawing techniques.

Fundamentals of Mechanical Drafting – Emphasizes the basic elements and concepts of mechanical drafting and uses procedural line drawings with a step-by-step approach to teach students how to read, plan, and create mechanical drawings.

Mechanical Drafting Concepts Teaching Aid – Includes wall chart, transparency, drawing exercise, and blueprint reading test plus model blocks to teach about different drafting drawing concepts.