Thermofax Screen Printing & Heat Press

thermofax prints with flock and foilScheduled 2022 dates:
Please get in touch if you would like to know about dates for this class

11:00am – 5:00pm

Venue: INTRA
Suitable for ages 14+
Class size 8 max

Make a lightweight thermofax screen from your own artwork using this super easy screen printing method. Print onto fabric, paper, a t-shirt or a tote bag and experiment with flock and foil finishes using a heat press. Then take the screen home for more printing!

‘Thermofax’ screens can be made with a heat system devised by Japanese company Riso. The machines use either a flash of bright light or a digital thermal head to make the stencil on a heat-sensitive film. Once you have the stencil, the method of printing is very similar to regular screen printing but with lighter frames and squeegees. It’s a great for artwork with line art and solid colour, only takes a few minutes to make up a screen, and offers an instant solution for screen printing smaller work up to A4 in size.

The screens last well, are very easy to store, and can be reused again and again. Use your screen to print party invites, t-shirts, birthday cards, bags, fabric, stationery and wrapping paper etc.

In this workshop led by Xtina Lamb, you’ll expose the heat sensitive screen mesh with your own artwork, stretch it on a plastic frame, then print onto textiles using a squeegee and one ink colour at a time. You’ll see some of Xtina’s extensive Riso machine collection, and use a Riso Screenfax or MiScreen to expose your screen.

Making thermofax screens

thermofax prints, some with foil effects

Workshop includes:

  • Create and keep a thermofax screen
  • Use your own artwork or source an image from the studio’s design library
  • Print onto paper, card or textiles
  • Compare Riso Screenfax and MiScreen machines
  • Add foil and flock effects to your prints with a heat press
  • Troubleshooting tips
  • Look at examples of thermofax screen printed work

It’s a small group so you’ll have individual attention, and all the materials are included in the price. No printing experience is necessary.

Textile print of flies with heatpress foil effect


  • Pay online £75
    Please get in touch to enquire about dates
  • Pay by phone 01634 790959
  • Pay by cash or cards in person at INTRA

If you have any questions about the course or payment, please call or send us an email.


After booking you will be sent details of the types of artwork that work best with this system. You can bring along artwork to use or create or copy something on the day. The general rule is to use clear black and white lineart with good contrast, and avoid grey tones and shading. You can bring along images on a memory stick, or print outs at roughly A6 (postcard) size. If you don’t have your own design to work with, you can pick something from the studio’s design library with hundreds of illustrated and vintage books.


Please give us as much notice as possible if you are not able to come to a course that you have booked. If you cancel with seven or more days notice, we will reschedule or refund your booking. For cancellations less than seven days before the workshop date – we may be able to offer you a discount on a future booking, but please note that we have to cover space, preparation and tutor costs and if you cancel at the last minute we still have to pay for these.


What is the difference between Thermofax machines, Print Gocco, XpresScreen, Riso ScreenFax, GoccoPro, and MiScreen?

Riso SP-180 and SP-275 Screenfax machines

Riso Screenfaxes SP-180 and SP-275

‘Thermofax’ is a generic term for screen printing stencils created with a heat process, using a mesh made by the Japanese company Riso. The material consists of two layers – a polyester mesh much like regular screen printing fabric, and a heat sensitive film coating. It is a popular method for printing on textiles, but can also be used to good effect on paper.

German-made Panenka thermofax machines were used to make screens using line art or textured areas rather than solid blocks of open stencil, but since the discontinuation of Riso’s blue mesh they have fallen out of use for making screens as they don’t work with the new white mesh. If you have a Panenka, you should find it easy to sell it to a tattooist though as they make excellent spirit stencils. 3M thermofax machine owners have reported mixed results with the white mesh.

Screens made with a Riso Screenfax (sold as XpresScreen in the US), GoccoPro or MiScreen can cope very well with line artwork and large printable blocks in stencil designs. The Riso Screenfax is an older style machine that requires a drawn or printed inkjet or photocopied image to be flashed with bright xenon bulbs to create the stencil. GoccoPro and MiScreen are digital machines that connect to a computer, so the artwork is sent to a thermal head and as the mesh passes through the machine the stencil is opened.

Print Gocco kit for screen printing

Print Gocco

It is also possible to make thermofax screens with another Riso machine, the Print Gocco. This is a small scale system for making short runs of about 200 or 300 postcard sized prints inside a machine that easily fits on a kitchen table. Print Gocco was hugely popular for home use in the 80s in Japan, where there is a tradition of hand making New Year’s cards. Sadly however Print Gocco machines use flash bulbs that have to be discarded after use, and the consumable supplies are no longer being made.

MiScreen kit with its box

Gocco / thermofax screen printed tote bags

Thermofax screen printed tote bags

9 thoughts on “Thermofax Screen Printing & Heat Press

  1. Hello Xtina, can you advise me on where to get a thermofax machine in the UK. I understand you can use tattoo transfer machines for this ourpose but want to make sure I dont buy he wrong one.

    Many thanks Sue Jones

    • Hi Susan
      There are no manufacturers of suitable thermofax machines in the UK that I know of. You can buy a Panenka thermofax machine from Germany or second hand, but I don’t advise it as this needs the blue ‘S’ type Riso mesh and that has been discontinued so their usefulness is limited now for screen printing. Only the white type for the GoccoPro machines is still being made by Riso. You can still buy the blue type in some places but it’s getting harder. Don’t buy a random tattoo spirit master machine as it’s unlikely to work. Some of the old 3M machines work with the new mesh, and if you can find a Riso Screenfax or XspresScreen Screen Maker 1000 those work with it too. I’ll be selling my Panenka machine to a tattooist when I can no longer get the blue mesh, and I’m switching to the white mesh for use with my Screenfax machine for most thermofax screens now.

      • Quick update – I’m now selling my A3 Panenka Thermofax machine. It’s the larger of the two German-made machines, and can be used to make screen printing stencils or tattoo spirit masters for transferring designs to the skin. The machine has a UK power supply. You can still buy the blue mesh at the moment to make screens, though I’m not sure how long it will be until the supply runs out, so it would be best to buy as much as you can afford. Spirit masters are still easily available. Get in touch if you are interested, it’ll be going on eBay soon.

  2. I just switched to the white mwah from the blue thermofax mesh and found a difference in the quality of the image.

    Have you found this too? If not, any suggestions how I can get the same quality print with the white mesh?
    I am using the 100 grade.


    • Hi Mary
      I think you contacted me via Etsy didn’t you? I like the white mesh and have no problem with it. But I use a Riso Screenfax or MiScreen, so maybe that helps. Try the 120 mesh, I find that to be super fine.

      • Oh yes, I did. 😁
        Thanks for getting back to me.
        Will check out the 120 grade.


    • Hi Ann
      I sold my Panenka thermofax to a tattooist as it seemed like there was barely any blue mesh left for sale. The last place I saw with some was NEHOC Australia. It was getting expensive though. The MiScreen is a great replacement machine. It takes the new white mesh and works directly from a computer.

      • Thank you Xtina
        My family live in Australia so I shall contact them and see if they can help. If not I shall look into getting a Miscreen.Once again thank you.


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