Printmaking chemical use policies

We have discovered that we have had a failure to properly communicate the Printmaking Committee’s policies on the use of the various supplies involved in printmaking. With the knowledge and consent of the
committee chairman, I have posted the following sign outlining the current policy of what supplies Printmaking has approved for use in the committee area:

All inks, emulsions, solvents, and cleaners must be sink safe. The DMS Printmaking Committee uses
soybean and vegetable oil based solvents and cleaners for all classes and training.

Flammable and/or solvent based chemicals are not allowed due to environmental and safety issues.

The DMS Printmaking Committee does not provide for the safe storage or disposal of flammable or hazardous materials. All members who use the Printmaking area and/or equipment are expected to be aware of the chemical makeup of any materials or supplies that they utilize in the Committee area, and use only those materials that are in accordance with this policy.

Please note that this is not a new policy. This is the same policy that has existed for several years and has been taught as part of all basic training classes in the Printmaking Committee’s curriculum. We are aware that our online information needs to be updated to include this information, and we will make a point of doing so in the next few days, as well as noting this policy at the next official Printmaking Committee meeting.


Similar to the recent 3d Fab discussion, if this is gonna be a rule, it has to be passed by the committee. If it’s passed by the committee, it has to be recorded in the minutes. Minutes need to be posted within a reasonable time after the meeting. I’ve not seen this rule having been passed by the committee. Also similar 3d Fab, the last minutes I am seeing for printmaking on the wiki are from last October.

Assuming this has something to do with the collection of containers on a table in the flex area covered with blue tape marked “TOXIC Not allowed at DMS”.

It’s been taught in all classes for over 2 years. It is NOT a new policy, it’s been in effect since before we moved out of the Creative Arts Annex (now Logistics Purgatory). Part of the origin of this policy was when Logistics removed the fire cabinet and the storage for flammable materials (like the mineral spirits that used to be used for plastisol cleanup). We’ve been made aware that it hasn’t been properly annotated to the wider membership at large, and are working on fixing the issue.

Yes. Even if this policy was not in place, DMS in general has policies against the use of volatile solvents in general work areas. The inks and cleaners in question are highly toxic, and should only have been used in an industrial setting with full commercial PPE available. The MSDS included issues with flammability, carcinogens, mutagens, and “Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects” (direct quote from the hazard label on the bottles in question).


I don’t know what to tell you Paul. I’ve taken the screen printing class in that time. It wasn’t taught to me. It sounds like some people knew it, some people didn’t, and it was never adopted as a rule by the committee, which it must be if you want to enforce it.

How is the barring of the use of chemicals like this in any way different that the standing policies of the DMS where you don’t flush untreated, poisonous chemicals down the drains, or use volatile compounds in general use areas with no controlled ventilation?

Additionally, we don’t have fire cabinets to properly store these chemicals, and we don’t have fireproof trash receptacles to handle the trash and residue from cleanup.

I think there are valid conversations to be had around this topic. I did about two hours of research today and spoke to a professional screen printer I know about this topic today. The issues don’t seem nearly as cut and dry as you seem to think they are.

Regardless, if the policy is that DMS printmaking comittee will not purchase these materials, that’s one thing. A rule restricting what products a person can being in from outside for their personal use is something else.

So you’re on board with letting people bring in known carcinogens, mutagens, and fire hazards against general DMS policy and have them used in a general open work area. Sounds fantastic.

There’s no need to get snarky. So far, I’ve been nothing but respectful to you.

My position is that you have to follow the rules of you want to attempt to restrict what members are allowed to do here. If we were to pass a blanket rule forbidding anything hazardous here, many committees simply wouldn’t exist any longer. We have rules for a reason, they are not difficult.

It’s hard to be respectful when seemingly intelligent people who supposedly have the best interest of the DMS in mind are willfully being bullheaded and resistant to an EXISTING policy that is ALREADY in place, (and has been for multiple years) that is for the safety of both the members and DMS as an organization.

We have already stated that we realize that we need to put the policy into an “officially recognized” format. We apologize that it’s been in place so long that it was around before all of the heavy regulation on specific documentation was put into place. We are actively working to get it fixed.

I truly fail to see how it is in ANY way against existing general DMS policies to not allow the use of non sink safe chemicals in an area where the cleanup procedure is going to end up using a sink, or the use of flammable inks and cleaners in an area with no fire resistant trash cans for the resulting trash. DMS got rid of the fire cabinet years ago to reduce such hazards. Printmaking is simply publicly repeating these policies in a format specific to the possible use of such items in our area.

If it’s already in place, point to the minutes in which it was adopted. If it never was, then it isn’t a rule. Plain and simple.

Like I said before, I familiarized myself with the issues surrounding the cleaning of solvent based screen printing agents today. I did not find the prevailing literature to recognize them as the dooms-day hazard you represent them to be. I see no reason that they could not be safely used at DMS with some common sense rules regarding their use. Regardless, those rules, like the ones you propose, would need to be passed by the committee.

That’s nothing new; committees have been required to document things for ages. The difference is that people actually care now to enforce that requirement. The lack of documentation causes nothing but problems: lax enforcement of rules which created safety concerns, enabling of abusers since the rule isn’t written/posted, abuse of the finances of the space through evading procurement requirements, trying to conceal processes within committees from the membership, and an overall lack of accountability.

We actually have said fire cabinets. The number in the building actually increased by a few since I’ve been a member.

Metal has a fire cabinet, Science has one (as well as acid cabinets), Jewelry has one, Automotive has one (but does not yet use it), and I may be missing some I’m unaware of.

Metal even has steel trash cans explicitly for flammables such as greasy and solvent materials to mitigate fires in the welding bays.

I get where you’re coming from, and I’d support the rule if the committee forms it. But if the person brings their own equipment then things need to be established in writing. And to have a policy for people not using your supplies in the committee area, it needs to be in writing as a committee and not as an instructor/former chair.

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It sounds like you are suggesting that every rule that was created before the formal meeting documentation requirements were imposed no longer exists. And that you have created additional workload for all committees to figure out what rules they have that don’t meet the formal documentation requirements and run them through committee meeting so that they do exist going forward.

Or is there some middle ground where at least rules that have been in the wiki since before some cutoff date are also valid? (Or is that too difficult to prove sometimes?)

And why is everyone talking like minutes and having rules posted are a thing that somehow only recently came into existence?
Just because you could get away with it for long enough until there are too many members to rely on tribal knowledge?

That’s the whole problem here, these rules aren’t on the wiki. To make a major rule change requires an act of the committee. They can’t just post new rule changes to the organization’s record out of the blue

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I absolutely get that the discrepancies that have happened since the policy are frustrating. But even as a member who joined late enough that this is the only location I have known, I know that committee operations used to fail to update new rules to the wiki more often than not. And committee meeting results getting posted to talk was rare enough, let alone to the wiki. The rule requiring formal meeting minutes be posted has existed for what, about 20-30% of this organizations life? (If even that much) When it came out, I don’t remember seeing anything stating that everything that happened before the rule was going to age out. Nor would I expect every committee rule to get changed in a year or two such that they would all be in meeting minutes.

This isn’t a case of me or anyone else being pendantic. If this policy had been documented anywhere, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But it wasn’t, so we are.

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TBH, as a new member the OP is a little confusing. There are plenty of solvent-based products that are perfectly safe, like most press washes, and plenty of “sink safe” stuff you wouldn’t want to get on your skin or in your lungs, like discharge agent (which has put me in the doctors office before). There’s some stuff out there that definitely doesn’t belong in a communal space like DMS, but the way it’s worded doesn’t really make that clear - by the definition in the OP, something like the CCI 147 that I use every day isn’t allowed.

From a practical standpoint, it seems like it would make more sense to just say folks need to use Franmar or sGreen products, and have to stick to plastisol, non-discharge HSA, and wb graphic inks. Way too much wiggle room otherwise.


Welcome to the Makerspace, I hope you will share your expertise by teaching some classes when it is appropriate to do so. I would look forward to learning from you.


Thank you for this perspective Tom. I sincerely hope you will help the printmaking committee develop a policy that makes sense- one that keeps our activities within the bounds of the law and reasonableness, but allows members to pursue their interests without having to deal with overly strict rules. Please let me know if I can help in any way.


Thanks y’all - happy to help in any way I can and also looking forward to teaching some classes. I work for one of the larger contract screen printers in town, so I deal with a lot of this on a daily basis. What’s the process here - just start attending the printmaking committee meetings?

Also, as far as classes go, I used to help teach the Screen Printing Experience class for Ryonet so I have a decent amount of material ready to go. If there’s anything y’all want to learn, either the basics, or fun stuff like special effects printing, foil, or multi-decoration techniques, just let me know and I’ll pull something together.